COMPARING SLAVERY AND INDENTUREDSHIP CREATES CONFLICT

COMPARING SLAVERY AND INDENTUREDSHIP CREATES CONFLICT
Photo : Prof. Bridget Brereton

Professor Bridget Brereton must have an ulterior motive or hidden agenda in extolling the virtues of   blacks suffering under slavery compared to the contracted legal misery of indentureship of Chinese, Portuguese and Indian laborers in her letter in the Trinidad Express of August, 4th 2011 titled "Both bad; but not the same". 

This constant intellectualizing of black suffering can only be an attempt in legitimizing black demands for exclusive rights for first entitlement for government handouts. But with the PNM in power for some 50 uninterrupted years she must also explain why PNM handouts to its black supporters has not made a difference in redressing black depravation and inequality. She must also explain why Trinidad and Tobago must be based on an inequality of one group over another and if the reverse would find acclaim, acceptance, righteousness and validity within her warped mind. She must explain if Trinidadian society must be based exclusively on entitlement to taxpayers funded handouts in perpetuity or a society based on honest hard work and equal sacrifices. She must justify all this in denial to such equality to its native population who predate all our ancestors in the country.

Photo : Vassan Ramracha

Harping on who suffered the most be it Africans, Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, local whites, Syrians and the original Caribs and Arawaks descendants can only be a recipe for continuous conflicts and national disaster. Such an advocacy which claims superiority in suffering   as a priority for first entitlement also denies other groups legitimacy and an equal place in our society.

For some 175 years blacks have had entitlement priority in receiving Trinidad government jobs, services and education after abolition and emancipation in 1838 while Indians and others were neglected on the sugar plantations living under the same slave like conditions from which their black countrymen were liberated. Are the Indians and others not also entitled to their honeymoon of privileges of half the time (85 years) just perchance they allegedly suffered half as much as their   black countrymen?

Certainly, under successive PNM governments, Indians were discriminated more than any other racial groups because of their perceived backwardness   and clinging to strange religions (Hinduism and Islam) which did not celebrate beef and pork as a daily diet intake. When Professor Brereton uses on ethnocentric narrative (slavery) to compare and justify subjugation and privilege over another ethnocentric group (indentureship) it leads to an bias analysis and engenders conflict and hatred. Understanding indentureship suffering must only be examined and understood from the point of view of its own narrative experiences.

Someone else's pain does not lessen another person agony no matter how much it is buttered and rotated on a slow fire of enhance its flavor. Professor Brereton would find it incredibly difficult to debunk the magnificence of Nelson Mandela's South Africa which legalized equality for all colors of South Africans despite the degradation of apartheid. Yet Professor Brereton would nevertheless still scuttle natural justice in denying equal rights to a white woman who was denied   the right to vote in the USA simply because a black woman in slavery was also denied such voting rights and suffered more.

When comparing slavery with virtual extinction of the native Caribs and Arawaks the Jewish holocaust and Indian indentureship with the experiences of other groups such as the local Trinidadian whites and Syrians, can we justify that these last two groups suffered the least and therefore have no equal space in our society and ipso facto deserve nothing, indeed minimal benefits in Trinidad! The truth is Indians suffered just as bad in an era of human emancipation and to magnify by intellectualizing black experiences by minimizing the suffering and hard work of others is academically dishonest and unfair.

These distortions after some 175 years of emancipation and black priority to government   handouts and the best jobs during colonial and PNM rule in Trinidad have resulted in an overall higher per capita income of blacks than any other groups including Indians. Professor Brereton's attempt to legitimize discrimination in our society based on first, second and third entitlement base on their color and intellectual claims of suffering must not be allowed to stand and must be openly rejected.

When entitlement ends hard work and ability must be the fair measuring rod. No group can claim that they were denied of these faculties by God. God does not make mistake; neither does he favor one group over the other. And Professor Brereton is not God's chosen daughter to correct any of his perceived mistakes. When Professor Brereton can fly like Lord Hanuman with a mountain in her hand only then she would have earned credibility and legitimacy to be the arbiter of Trinidad and Tobago's destiny. Her attempts to demolish my God given rights to freedom and equality cannot be acceptable or permitted even in appeasement to her friends.