Overly Blaming of the Ghetto


Registered User
There is a nice, interesting thread on Backchat. I didn't get past the first page because some ass saw it fit to air their pseudo-intellectual classist attitude and racist reasoning. I don't know what is their ethnicity and it's not even important because racist thinking can be held by a person of the same ethnicity, sometimes even more so. To speak about people living in depressed communities, particularly the Beetham, as if they are solely - note the use of words - responsible for the position they are in is flat out sophisticated bigotry. You'd think we'd be better at contextualising given our history and the fact that these were the exact same labels used against ALL people of colour by European and Euro-American social thinkers for the last 300 years at least. In fact, they've used it against their own selves, ask the Irish and European Jews; look at inter-ethnic violence in Polish, Greek and Italian ghettos in New York up to World War II. Conditions are made, locations are developed to push unwanted people out of sight, subject them to years of neglect - first by the coloniser, then by the post-independent elite, often manipulated by the old coloniser - and then they are blamed for their position.

I know very well there are many people living in the Beetham, Embacadere, John-John, Morvant and Sea Lots and other depressed communities who have the most disgusting attitudes towards life and honest hard work. Neither will I deny that enslavement/colonialism and the racism that came out of that is over-used to justify a self-defeatist victimhood. But what I cannot stand is the hypocrisy of some people, their wilful ignorance and mental laziness in understanding how things came to be. It appears some of them honestly think that all societies are operating out of a level playing field; that regardless of the racism and institutional mechanisms influenced by racist views of humankind, put in place to keep certain sectors of society in certain lowly positions, all of that is no longer relevant and these things have absolutely no bearing on contemporary society. Captive elephants are restrained by chains as young calves from which they strain against but cannot break. By the time they grow into adulthood, the chain is a rope which they can snap easily but hardly ever do because at the first feeling of resistance they cease trying. The real chain is mental. The other side to that is the people who put the chains on make sure the elephant does not know the limitations of the rope. Make of that what you will.

On this very group we saw a thread telling us about the thousands of West Indian men who worked in inhumane conditions building the Panama Canal. Many of them are buried there. History tells us very clearly that around the same time many did similar work building Port of Spain and environs to what it is today. Some of these people would have lineal descendants in the Beetham, John-John, Morvant, and Tivoli Gardens, Spanish Town and Berbice. If I am to accept that African and Indian ('cause the same things were said about them for years) people are lazy, shiftless, immature and "need to grow up..." then I must accept that that laziness, that immaturity is in their genes. But history shows us otherwise. Not just the Canal, the plantations and the independent attempts to develop self-sustaining communities outside of the plantations - until vagrancy laws made that illegal (something else few who pontificate talk about). Everyday observations of work in the Beethan dump (that eh no landfill) shows conditions that are no less inhumane, backbreaking and dangerous, yet they do it and have developed their own understanding of what is poisonous and hazardous. I see the same determination to work in all the fishing villages - you know, where the oil fucked up the livelihood of lazy black (and brown) people (and don't feel it's only La Brea, when last did anyone drive down to the jetty behind the Sea Lots fish market)

To the hypocrites and self-loathing people passing judgement on lazy Beetham and immature black people who need to grow up, when last did you call out the same mindset among the business and political elites who do the same thing? Even as we speak? Those people who feel they are above due process and adhering to safety and environental laws, tendering practices? You think the Beetham man cutting the grass in Glencoe, Valsayn and Westmoorings doesn't notice? You think the domestic workers from Laventille, Cocorite and Maloney doesn't listen to the owners of the houses in Goodwood Park and Bel Air when they get on the phone to whoever in Town and Country Planning or Customs or Ministry of Works to look the other way when they doing their ratch? Well they do...and they talk about it...and they reason why not them too. I used to hear them every day when we travelled on the same 7 O'clock Carenage bus; I interfaced with some of them when I used to drive around to the various fishing villages. But I guess it's easier to cuss Beetham and Laventille youth for being lazy and entitled.

Dr Morgan Job shrilly (and yes, rightfully too) bleats every morning on radio that the culture and approach to work must change so as to get the ghetto mindset out of people's minds. He'll get no argument from me there. But one of the uncomfortable questions few want to ask is who benefits from the retention of that ghetto mindset? A number of hardened gang-members made the peace accord back in 2009 to end the violence and stabilise the communities. They called attention to the years upon years of neglect and not just broken but betrayed promises made by elites, because they didn't want charity, they had their own ideas of how to make their communities sustainable. Most of them are dead now. Make of that what you will.