There is a saying that A wise man does not need advice and a fool won’t take it.
After all of the sound and fury on the continuing destructive power of the institutionalized racism inherent in the two major political parties privately simmering beneath both of their public agendas we arrive at nothing.
Now where there was understanding there is distrust, where there was exposed evidence of the agenda there is a hush and the Government once again buries an issue of national importance under the rug of expediency, putting off today's problems for others to deal with who may not benefit from the social padding of gas and oil revenue as a buffer.
The last public statement on the issue came from former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday at the conclusion of the panel convened to discuss Nizam Mohammed and the circumstances surrounding his dismissal, who said that East Indian people could not raise the issue of racism whether real or imagined as there is no system for redress.
The Leader of the Opposition accused the Attorney General of practicing racism in a contribution in the House of Representatives recently, and despite having since been shown to be wrong; is sticking to his own facts and embarrassing himself, his Party and the Opposition once more.
The Congress of the People, once heralded as the champions of new politics of T&T and possessing the plan for all inclusivity for all are noticeably silent on the issue as if they too are afraid to deal with an issue that found one of their highest appointees publicly flayed and discarded, leaving the people to rub up against each other knowing full well where the real racism lies and powerless to do anything about it, that is at least until gas meets fire.
What happens next?
Racism and the right to claim discrimination seems to be tied to economic issues, preventing any real discussion if one is discriminated against if one also happens to be otherwise successful.
We have had pastors, priests and poets call for some sort of State acknowledgement of the problem and the beginning of something, anything that could lead to understanding at least if not immediate solution, yet government after government have ignored this call.
Is there a national agenda to maintain racism as policy?
While there is no escaping that the middle passage will be forever stained with the blood of the dead brought here against their will, the poverty and desperation of our lowest class is an example of a people unable to come to terms with itself or its own history. How do we explain Beetham Gardens and Laventille away?
Every time we celebrate independence I call for us to first declare it; that we must address this issue handed down from slavery, indentureship and colonial times and until we do we are just children playing at grown up games; the activists and supporters on both sides need to educate themselves on the possibilities of life in Trinidad fifteen years down the road where it is predicted that oil and gas revenues will be no more.
What will buffer us then?
A stray bolt of lightening can set fire to dry tinder in quick time, but all thunder can do is praise fire; we need to get beyond talk and fast.
We as a people need to come to terms with the fact that Trinidad is a plural, multi ethnic society and we need to do the work to vent past hurts and past oppressions and establish public policy guidelines and legislative controls to make the practice of racism, if not illegal and punishable by law, then at least expensive in civil court.
We ought not to put this off for very much longer, noting the propensity of our people to make much of non issues this one could burn us down out of sheer ignorance fueled by the arms of frustration and peopled by ignorance.
The Government of the day are the only ones who can address this in any meaningful manner and I again call on the Prime Minister to convene a National Council on Race Relations armed with a mandate to first identify, understand and document how we come to be where we are and to suggest (based on national consultation) options to treat with the issue of our plural identity once and for all.
Only good can grow from such an adventure and it would be a testimony to our political maturity if we undertook to do so, not as reaction to negative but as national development and an example to all that it is possible for us to be independent after all.