Indians in the Caribbean should cease seeing themselves as Trinidadians, Guyanese and Surinamese but as Indo Caribbean people. This nomenclature should not by confined to the Caribbean but extended to Indo Caribbean people who have made North America and Europe and other parts of the world their home. This broad identity is essential for survival in this antagonistic world. Our survival would only be possible by our unity in numbers and not by any human right or democratic jargon. We must be our brothers’ keepers!
Historically, Africans have always identified as Africans cutting across geographical and language barriers One can only refer to the Pan African Movement in the 1920s and 1930s that drew its leaders from Africa and the French and English-speaking Caribbean. George Padmore and CLR James were Trinidadians while Nkrumah was Ghanaian. Aime Cesaire who coined the term Negritude and Frantz Fanon who wrote White Skin Black Masks where from the French-speaking island of Martinique. Their vision for Africans was universal, cutting across language and geographical barriers, embracing the motherland and the diaspora.
In the American Civil War of 1861-65, the major aim of the confederate states was to expand their influence into the Caribbean and perpetuate the culture of slavery. Thanks to the northern states and the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln and his abled military the south was defeated and the slaves were liberated.
But what was then a loss for the Confederates has now been made an achievement for the descendants of the liberated slaves, that is, uniting the southern states with the Caribbean. This spirit of Black expansionism and social and political influence is well reflected in the interference of Black academics like Professors David Hinds and Theodore Lewis of the US in politics of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago respectively. Both men unreservedly meddle in the internal politics of these Caribbean territories and unapologetically support the divine right of Blacks to rule these former British colonies.
Black solidarity was well reflected in a protest march in the USA on July 03, 2021 against the democratically elected Irfan Ali government of Guyana. Making allegation of racism against the PPP Government, Rickford Burke, leader of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy, called for the overthrowing of the Guyana Government.
Africans in the Americas and the Caribbean have been party to several social and political movements to win civil rights including the right to attend schools and travel in public buses. You would recall the start of civil disobedience in Montgomery, Alabama when Rosa Parks, seated in a bus, refused to give up her seat to a white man. This simple act led to huge protests for days on the streets and the elevation of Dr. King as a civil right leader.
Black people are playing significant roles in US politics. Currently, the Blacks are influential in the Democratic government of the US. The Secretary of Defense in the Joe Biden administration is Lloyd J. Austen 111. This appointment is nothing surprising. In the past we have seen Colin L Powel, a four-star general, and also Condoleezza Rice serving as Secretary of State. Last but not least was the election of President Barrack Obama to serve as President for two terms.
Blacks are a mere 14.7% of the US population which amounts to $44 million of the national population of 328 million. On the other hand, Indo- Trinidadian are now 35% of the population but do not wield the social and political influence that the black of the US have on their society. Where is the protests and outrage when Indians are by-passed for promotion in the public service? When, if at all, we are going to see an Indian as Minister of National Security, Commissioner of Police, Minister of Culture or Minister of Finance? Would we ever live to see simultaneously Indians as Prime Minister, President, Commissioner of Police and Minister of national Security?
Blacks in the USA plays an influential role in the Joe Biden administration. This does not deny their historic role as mayors in the top cities of the US such as Atlanta, Detroit, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, etc.
Unless Indians shed their roti-mind they would continue to be denied power and more so when they have it would not be able to hold on to it, far more to pass it on. Roti is an essential aspect of life but so is POWER. That power to make and influence decisions-pass laws and vote money for projects- have not really sunk into the psyche of Indians.
Indians need to build an elite class who have conquered the Everest of material welfare and who are passionate about the welfare of the wider society and not their personal and family wellbeing. This is the big challenge!