TT OLYMPIC Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis says the recent post-election dialogue on race is uncomfortable but necessary to make TT a better country.
“The youth and young people of this generation want to have their say,” wrote Lewis in a statement, adding that he is optimistic the discord will bear fruit.
“The discussion,” he said, “is not just about race but class and perceptions of social and economic inequality. What is necessary is for responsible people to embrace and empower the conversations and not allow those on the extremes to shape the narrative.
“The reality is that for all the wealth that has passed through this country many communities and citizens feel left out and disenfranchised.”
He went on to describe classism and elitism in this country as “a dangerous cocktail.”
“We have not gone pass the divide and rule social construct of colonisation and the plantation,” said the TTOC chief.
“We are no longer our brothers and sisters keeper. And no longer a village that raises our children. We have lost our heart and soul in the pursuit of upward mobility and material success.”
Lewis said many are “comfortable going to sleep with a full stomach while our neighbour goes to sleep hungry.”
He did not specify recent instances of nationwide dialogue about race but there were a number of incidents during the election campaign and following, which fuelled heated discussions about race relations in TT.
In one such incident, a relative of the owners of Ramsaran’s Dairy Products made disparaging remarks online, which were directed to supporters of a political party and were widely viewed as antagonistic and racist.
There was an immediate push back, with many customers calling for a boycott on Ramsaran’s products. There have been several other reported incidents of cyberbullying on the basis of race and religion seen on social media, following the August 10 election.
Lewis said, “If TT is to move forward to becoming a fairer more inclusive, resilient and sustainable country and society, we must embrace and empower the needed conversation,” he said. “If we don’t teach our true history we will repeat the sins of the past.”