I sent the following letter to the Guyana papers … . It was not published.
At the 1st T20 Match in Trinidad, last Friday 29th July, 2022 between West Indies and India, the West Indies cricket team was seen kneeling. Why is this so distasteful on ALL levels for me as a second generation Indian in Guyana?
The West Indies cricket team has always been mostly made up of the major race of the Caribbean (Africans) and it is not my intention to go into that in this letter even though I can never forget Sir Vivian Richard’s reference to his West Indies’ team as the only “Black” team in the world. Indians comprise of a quarter of the population of the West Indies. Indians also play for West Indies. It would be wrong to refer to it as a Black team.
Why is kneeling at this particular series so disgusting and an eye pass on ALL levels? Whether we want to hide our heads in the proverbial sands or ignore the “elephant” in the room, twist it or turn it….there are serious, pervasive Racial problems and resentment between the descendants of Africans and Indians in the Caribbean. Some say that this resentment started when the Indians came and replaced the Slaves on the Estates but that does not make sense as this resentment is not extended to the ones who came before the Indians came….the Portuguese and Chinese. However, whenever there are perceived “problems” and grievances with the one major race(Africans), the Indians have to pay. This has been happening in Guyana since the 1960’s till today. A few weeks ago, a mob of people were protesting (rightfully so) against the killing of one of their kin by a Policeman whose photo in the papers showed that he is of mixed African heritage. The mob of people of African descent, descended on the Indians in Mon Repos Market. These unfortunate people were mercilessly beaten, robbed, goods looted and property burnt. What was their crime? They were Indians.
What has changed in Guyana and Trinidad and the rest of the West Indies since the 1960’s till today? Are Guyanese Indian females still told at the airport in Barbados…”you all Indian ladies come to take away our Bajan men?” Are we still put to sit on the “special Guyanese bench?” In Trinidad, there are racial problems between the Indians of Trinidad and the people of African descent. This is was exposed when the then P.M. Hon. Kamls Bissessar was in India and she touched the feet of the then President of India. The brohaha that erupted from the “Blacks” in Trinidad was palpable everywhere in the twin Island. The now PM. declared…
” it as an act of “ultimate subservient of superiority and inferiority being demonstrated”.
Speaking at a public meeting at the Febeau Open Bible Church in San Juan on Tuesday night, Rowley said, “I am a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, and I take umbrage at my Prime Minister going to anybody’s country and kissing any office-holder’s foot”. Note, Ms. Bissessar did not “kiss” anyone’s foot but just touched President Pratibha Devisingh Patil’s feet as is the Hindu tradition of greeting an elder.
It has become a norm now to tell the people of Indian descent that live in the Caribbean that you are not “Indians” but you are West Indians. We are asked to forget our Indian heritage. The foods brought by our ancestors from India who held onto their culture and food even though it the Massa/Sahib tried to beat it out of them/shame them about eating their “Coo*ie” food and traditions. Today, goat curry, rotis, 7 kind (Jhandi puja food) are called West Indian/Guyanese/Trini/Jamacian/Bajan foods and not a single credit is given to the peoples whose foods are appropriated. The descendants of the people from India do not complain…we are very happy to share our Culture and enrich the landscape of every place we go and inhabit. Our ancestors have made jungles into little havens by adding cultures and foods and also by their industriousness of bringing every fruit/vegetable/plant that they needed to use…..from Tulsi, Paan, Peepal, Bilva to Saijan, Poi Bhaji, Seim, Bora, Karaila, Mango, Katahar, Sapodilla, Dunks…the list is too long to continue.
As I watched the West Indies cricketers kneeling, I thought…..who are they kneeling for? What about the people of Indian descent who are been “KNEELED , BEATEN, RAPED, STRIPPED, LOOTED!!” WHO ARE THE PERPETRATORS AND WHO ARE THE VICTIMS in Guyana and all the places in the West Indies where Indians reside?
Who will “kneel” for us? How can the West Indies Cricket Board be so INSENSITIVE to the people of Indian descent in the West Indies? Don’t INDIAN LIVES MATTER to the WICB? That they are kneeling at a match against the INDIAN Cricket team is even more revolting. Rubbing salt into the wounds of all the Indians who have suffered simply because we are of Indian descent.
What a shame and disgrace to all of us people of Indian ancestors. What a crime against humanity.