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Thursday 20 June 2019
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Kambon: ‘Oreo’ not racist

Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) president Khafra Kambon.
Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) president Khafra Kambon.

ACTIVIST Khafra Kambon did not think the Opposition Leader’s description of the Prime Minister as an "Oreo" was racist, but he did think generally the country’s elites, dubbed the "one per cent," should be held to account.

He spoke to Newsday after a furore over Kamla Persad-Bissessar saying last Monday that Dr Rowley was an Oreo –black on the outside but white on the inside – helping the elites but not the grassroots who had elected him.

“Something is racist if you are talking in terms of something that is derogatory to the race, but this remark referred to the individual (Rowley),” said Kambon, head of the Emancipation Support Committee. “It is not a statement against African people, but against a person.”

Kambon also made the point that someone is most likely to be dubbed an Oreo by a critic who is proud of his/her Africanness and who feels the targeted person has been betraying his race.

“I don’t see it as racist.”

However, Kambon said he would not be the one to assess the allegation that a person was not doing enough for their own people.

“People slam people all the time. That is something to be evaluated.”

He said the debate/brouhaha should have been taken up from the perspective of whether Rowley had done enough for people.

Newsday asked if local politicians were now descending into white-bashing, with Rowley, at a campaign meeting last Monday ,describing the Privy Council as “the Englishman, the white man,” and Persad-Bissessar’s Oreo remarks possibly being seen as anti-white.

Kambon did not see the Oreo remarks as disparaging whites, but merely as criticising Rowley.

“The defence against it is to show it is not so...calling it racism takes away from the real meaning of the term Oreo.”

Pressed on whether the Oreo remark was anti-white, he said all groups in this society vie for their own interests and coalesce around common interests. Kambon opined there exists a so-called one per cent, comprising particular groups, although the use of that term is “not necessarily racist” (to lighter-skinned people.)

Likewise he was unfazed by Rowley’s reference to the Privy Council as “the white man.” Kambon said the PM may have been speaking so as to try to arouse a particular emotion.

He saw Rowley as justified in advocating that the country shift from using the Privy Council to using the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its highest court. Kambon lamented too many citizens have something in their colonial psyche where they think something British is better than something Caribbean, adding, “This has to do with white and black.”

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