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A surplus of ignorance, a deficit of decency


When Donald Trump first announced his run for the American Presidency, he did so making a clear racist assault against Mexican people, whom he described to his audience as rapists and murderers.

This strident appeal to American racial sensibilities was not new. In fact, Trump’s rise to political ascendancy within the Republican Party had rested upon a sustained campaign of lies that rejected the incontestable truth that President Barack Obama, the US first black president was a natural American born citizen. It is no small wonder then that Trump would direct his latest verbal vulgarity at Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries. In Trump’s world, the black and brown people of this world carry lesser worth and deserve less dignity than white people.

Such a proposition is obviously without merit. Indeed, within the United States itself, several commentators have observed that today’s African and Latin American immigrants, and indeed immigrants from every corner of the world, have massively contributed to the American miracle – the creation of the world’s wealthiest country, with the world’s most ethnically diverse population. They could easily have added that this has been the case from the very founding of the country, and at a tremendous cost to the black and brown people of Africa and the Americas.

There are two salient facts which confirm this. The United States emerged from the conjunction of the two greatest thefts in the history of humanity. First, European colonizers stole the American continents from indigenous Americans, shared progenitors of today’s brown Americans. Second, Europeans stole millions of Africans and enslaved them to work in rice fields, cotton fields, and divers industries in the Americas, which would enrich Europe enormously and deeply impoverish African and Latin America countries. Indeed, in ‘British Capitalism and Slavery’ the great Trinidadian Prime Minister, Dr Eric Williams, would write the definitive book on how slavery benefitted European powers. And in his masterpiece, ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’, the Guyanese historian Dr Walter Rodney detailed the price Africa paid for 400 years of African enslavement.

Trump’s ignorance of this history, or his refusal to acknowledge its enduring consequence for the modern world, is only one strand in the web of racial animus that has entangled his presidency. Few people have remarked on what is absolutely the most frightening component of Trump’s comment, even when stripped of its indecent language. Trump specifically told the group of American lawmakers with whom he was negotiating changes to American immigration law that American immigration law should favour Scandinavian immigrants over African and Latin American immigrants.

And this call to once again embed racial and national animus into American law is not only a complete rejection of the black freedom struggle in the US and beyond, it is also a re-invigoration of the pernicious and absolutely fraudulent idea that the world’s people constitute a genetic ladder of supremacy which places white people at the top of the ladder and black people at the bottom.

Caribbean people are unsurprisingly deeply offended by Trump’s statements. Our own anti-colonial struggles, which resulted in the descendants of former slaves gaining the right to rule their own lives, stand in stark repudiation to the racial principles espoused by Trump. Moreover, Caribbean immigrants stand among the most successful of all immigrants to the United States. Their success runs the full spectrum of American life.

This relationship between the United States and the Caribbean is also of deep value to Caribbean nations. The Vincentian diaspora, for example, plays a critical role in sending remittances back to SVG.

If the worldwide condemnation of Trump’s remarks are taken at face value, it indicates that in the Caribbean and elsewhere, we will not allow racism to once more become the defining feature of the relations between the people of the world.