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Friday 21 September 2018
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Letters to the Editor

Do minorities count in this country?

And let’s face it, even with First Peoples’ presence here on the island of Trinidad, centuries before the arrival of Africans and East Indians, the chief reason we are only now acknowledging this minority group is possibly because of growing international awareness of indigenous people who were, for too long, denied recognition in much-touted democracies.

And while the region’s First Peoples have arguably been through more violence, torture and exploitation than our African ancestors, they are still treated with a certain degree of irrelevance simply because their numbers are so few in comparison to our two major ethnic groups.

Being of mixed ethnicity (African/East Indian), I can tell my First Peoples brothers and sisters that their struggle for any real recognition is truly an uphill task, because every five years, there’s a battle for the control of our economy.

And the most dominating contenders are our two major ethnic groups who are also descendants of physically and/or psychologically violated people, but you, First Peoples, are unfortunately viewed as insignificant in the decision-making process because while each side can and has successfully appealed to their own masses, your numbers are indeed way too small to make a difference in the battle for political supremacy or in other important decision-making processes. So ultimately, even the little attention you get may be disingenuous.

Local Africans and East Indians are generally a peaceful and affable people and while they have overcome many hurdles and are now in charge of their own affairs, there always appears to be a small percentage within the uppermost hierarchy of each group whose political, ethnic and other cryptic desires and bigoted utterances have kept alive an ethnic consciousness.

In TT, people of mixed ethnicity find themselves in a similar “irrelevant state,” just like the First Peoples. Our numbers might be larger than First Peoples, but we are yet a great way off in becoming an irrefutable factor in the decision-making process, political or otherwise. But even as our numbers are slowly but surely increasing, those far-too-frequent divisive utterances by acclaimed people of the two major races, have practically fuelled the implied irrelevance of minority groups.

As children and even up to adolescence, children of mixed descent attend school and socialise naturally with all ethnicities without any communal/societal hiccups. But as adulthood sets in, awareness of, “being different” and the non-essential nature of their social opinions, begins to creep in, moreso if they reside in communities dominated by any one of the two major groups, which instinctively expects staunch support in societal affairs (especially politics ) by any “neutral,” who “adheres” to their group and which of course makes us (mixed-descent) excellent, “one love” window-dressing.

We are a democracy, aren’t we? We still were, the last time I checked. First Peoples, that one-off public holiday was an opportune reality check in establishing your place in the national community. Yes it’s an uphill task. You cannot change the past but you can determine your future. And while we are aware of your ancestors being exploited, don’t be led and get stuck in that wretched stagnating “they-owing-we” mindset, exactly where supposedly caring leaders of the major ethnic groups virtually confine their devotees solely for their (the leaders) personal game and gain.

Because while this blame mentality gets passed on to your children and your children’s children and their children, the people we are casting blame on are diligently occupied in seeking to further improve their already-established development in commerce, science and technology while passionately supporting their children’s education and total development towards the same.The world is not what it used to be six hundred years ago or sixty years ago or even twenty years ago. Be sure your children are educated, your undivided attention and support in this field (education) is absolutely necessary. Education today cannot be over exaggerated, and in your own positive way, make the most of this opportune recognition. God bless.

Lloyd Ragoo, Chaguanas

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