Message by Chief Secretary the Hon. Ancil K. Dennis on the racial tensions in Trinidad and Tobago

My fellow Trinbagonians, it is indeed a sad day in Trinidad and Tobago when our emotions are heightened to reflect deep rooted hate and divisiveness against our fellow brothers and sisters, based on ethnicity or ethnic heritage. While we may be of varying ethnicities, given the multi-cultural society in which we have the privilege to exist, may I remind all of us that in essence, we belong to one race, the human race.

It must be underscored that such racist comments must never be accepted as a consequence of our elections process – a process that was indeed free and fair for all eligible persons to partake. The right to freely exercise our democracy remains one of our greatest privileges as a country and should never be marred by the cancer that is racism. Therefore, we all have a civic duty to strongly condemn it whenever it rears its head, regardless of the season.  At no time should racism ever be allowed to exist comfortably among us as a people.  We must never allow the ranting of a hateful few to pretend to be or occlude the voice of a sensible majority.

I have been truly disappointed to see the onslaught of negative racial exchanges and expressions on the social media platforms, post our recently held National Elections.  Platforms ideal for unity, camaraderie and positive expressions, have been mishandled and misused as persons have chosen to convert them into their personal vehicles of hatred, venom and bigotry.  Why have we chosen this path?  I have made a personal commitment to do some introspection, to ensure that I too address any areas of conscious or unconscious prejudice within me. We must each take personal responsibility in this situation that exists today.

We ought to ask ourselves whether we have contributed to the problem or the solution and I certainly applaud those who have not hesitated to take a stance against any form of racism or prejudice.  Racism may have its roots in the past, but it actively threatens the quality of our present and future. These incendiary remarks are a stark reminder that deep healing still needs to occur within our multi-ethnic society.  This is not a time to sit unconcerned, unperturbed or unbothered. The future of our Nation depends on your voice……each and every voice.  Silence only makes us complicit observers to a problem currently plaguing our Nation and which has the potential to destroy what we have worked so hard to build.

Fellow brothers and sisters, the elections are over.  We were given the opportunity to exercise our civic duty to elect a group of persons to govern us (the people) and this beautiful land of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. We have been blessed with the privilege of choice and being active participants in our democratic process since 1946.  Let us not allow dissenting views and disagreements to cause us to regress into a people who can be labelled as ‘hateful’, ‘toxic’, ‘bigoted’ and even ‘racist’.  We must reject all forms of these behaviours that are seeking to become strongholds and take up residence.

Today, I encourage all of us to make a concerted effort to live in love, peace, harmony and unity.  It must be a personal responsibility. We must all have a personal interest and desire to see better and therefore be challenged to do better. It is my hope that the current climate disturbs us to the point where we feel obligated to break our silence and make contributions of racial unity and togetherness to the public discussion on the various platforms.  Let us dare to be different and not join in the negativity that is seemingly pervading the atmosphere. As Trinbagonians, the time has come for us to show the world how to truly be multi-cultural and multi-ethnic whilst respecting and appreciating our differences, for we are one people.  “Here every creed and race, finds an equal place.”

God bless the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

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