The black dilemma

Letters to the Editor

The black dilemma

Friday, February 14, 2020

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Dear Editor,

There is some level of relief among many in our communities every time the police or someone with authority kills a bandit. After all, in most instances it's a young, black man with slippers or sneakers, underwear showing, and hair in braids. These individuals who kill with no sense of compassion or reason stay away from school, work, or any place where they are required to fit in the norms of society. They prey upon the weak or unprepared and are willing to die in their quest for quick cash. So, to many, they are cockroaches to be dispensed with. Whenever one suggests that they are humans in need of some direction and guidance he/she is looked upon as supporting crime and criminals. Who are these black people really?

Imagine for a moment, if you can, society, everyone in authority, the Church, the law, the politician, caregivers saying to you that you must not learn to read. If you were caught trying to read or write you would be severely punished. Then this society says to you that your children are not yours and will be taken away from you whenever they wish. Imagine watching your child crying, begging you to rescue him/her while he/she is taken away from you and sold to another person, and you very likely will never again see that person in your lifetime. Imagine being unable to have a relationship with a person of the opposite sex as the purpose of that person is solely to impregnate or to be impregnated so that their children can be sold or used for labour. Imagine you have no choice in what you wear, what you eat, what you speak, where you live, or how you worship. Imagine that in your life there are no kind words, no love and brutality, and pain is a way of life; anything you do is underlined with whips and pain. Imagine watching your fellow men buried up to their heads in dirt and dogs allowed to consume them while alive to prove a point. Then imagine someone having the right to hang or shoot you while you grow accustomed to seeing others disposed of in that way. Then imagine that structure in place for over 300 years or for generations.

To survive that person had to lose the desire to love, to be attached to family, to crave learning, to understand kind words, instead of severe punishment and, moreover, to consider oneself a human being.

Then one day society changes and immediately the questions are asked: Why are they not learning, reading, and writing? Why are they so dumb? Why are they so violent? Why do they not care for their children? Why are they so far from God? Why are they so uncivilised? They say to these people forget the hundreds of years under slavery; that is the past, forget the pain, learn to love and have a family, continue, however, to work for the people that once owned you and continue to treat them with the respect and dignity they insisted upon or else.

Do we as a society have the answers to deal with the social ills that plagues almost every black community that was subjected to slavery? Is the answer simply to kill off those that failed to transform themselves and embrace qualities that they forced out of their DNA for centuries? There is no easy answer.

The black man's social situation is complex and cries out for attention that goes beyond simply killing them off or incarcerating young men.

Steve Alvarez

Political leader

Democratic Party of Trinidad & Tobago

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