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posted 6 Mar 2017, 17:39 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 7 Mar 2017, 11:58 ]
Now that Carnival done and allyuh head settled (somewhat), could Raymond Ramcharitar explain how

Raymond Ramcharitar
in his February 22nd column in the Guardian newspaper he saw it fit to subtly equate the organisers of the Canboulay event on Piccadilly Greens with the alt-right white supremacist hate group of the United States.

Now as someone who often nitpicks over historical accuracy, I appreciate that there’re some issues over the “re-enactment” of Canboulay. Me eh too sure it had clowns and bats during the original riots in Port of Spain, San Fernando and Princes Town (although there would have been midnight robbers of a different kind). But say wha, artistic license.

However, maybe it’s just the huge chip on my shoulder, but he’s done this before. Once, equating Africentrists with the Ku Klux Klan. So I’d like clarification given the roots of the alt-right in groups that have openly murdered people of colour. I‘m also curious about his definition of resistance since he classifies the original riots as pure criminality (committed by other islanders too!!) who came to Trinidad “because of its general lawlessness and corruption”. 

Xenophobia aside, this is interesting. PNM and UNC weren’t around then, so who were those corrupt people? And it’s curious he made no mention of The Diaries of Abbe Armand Masse, the French Catholic priest who on 30th April 1881 wrote that the marchers often “amuse themselves in a more or less noisy fashion but peace is not compromised” but that year “by a sort of bravado, the Chief of Police…at a dinner…made a wager to stop these bands”. How does that fit into his arguments I wonder?

And Ramcharitar, didn’t James Scott in his book “Weapons of the Weak” argue that peasant resistance to oppressive regimes – which
are militarily stronger – are mostly through passive go-slows, sabotage, disobedience, absenteeism and theft, rarely open revolt? And what were the living conditions that forced ‘small’ islanders out of their homes to come to Trinidad? Not the same slum conditions that existed here in the barrack yards that colonial officials created to force labourers to work close to the estates? The same slum conditions that existed right up to the riots investigated by the 1938 Moyne Commission? You know the answers; they’re there in your doctoral dissertation “THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF TRINIDAD: UNDERGROUND CULTURE IN TRINIDAD 1870-1970”.

Between pages 9-12 you recount the criminally exploitative behaviour of British capitalists against their own people. So how’d you think they’d be when one includes “race”? West Indian barrack yards were London’s sweatshops. Further, you pontificate about “riots, steelpan and violence as primary or significant components of Trinidadian history” but on page 191 of Hidden History assert “overt values held by the masses…were entirely determined by their reactions to a hostile physical environment, authoritarian control over the citizen by police and authorities (and) a contemptuous social structure…”

It’s interesting how “colonialism is long gone” yet you point out that the descendants of that old elite remain in Trinidad, having as much influence as their forbears did – often with the same racist views of the laboring class. Now it’s true, by 1962 they were joined by new Afri/Indic elites; true they all manipulated the working classes when it suited them. But that’s the point: the underclass understood that then and today (which is why MX Prime’s song this year resonated among them; it expresses how they feel about a system that was never meant for them at all)

Keep that in mind the next time you pen another xenophobic rant. Better yet, read over your dissertation as I did.