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‘Gomry’ Should Go!

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Fri, Oct 14. 2011

Editor: I am disgusted with the racist statements made by my constituency representative and Minister of Agriculture Mr. Montgomery Daniel. The idea that he and the Garifuna people (of which I am a descendant) are superior to the Negros and East Indians in this country is indefensible and inflammatory.{{more}}

My interpretation of Daniel’s statement is as follows: “Who are you to tell me I have to go? You met me here. You came in chains and indentureship. If anyone has to go it will be you…back to where you came from. Your history makes you of inferior status and you have no right to protest against me to tell me go. My history makes me superior to you…make sure Mr. Bowman understand that!”

No living Vincentian came to this country in chains…we were all born here or somewhere else as free men and women. Indentureship is a thing of the distant past. But further to that, a people raped, murdered and stripped of their basic human right to freedom should not be the subject of ridicule by any Vincentian, worst yet by a Minister of Government. I do not know that the Africans chose to come to the Caribbean in chains. And to think that Daniel’s out of place remarks were motivated by placards and words said to him during a protest against his Ministry’s negligent handling of a leaf spot disease which has impoverished Vincentian farmers (with no regard to race or colour)! Even if a protestor used racial slurs again the Minister (a thing that should not be tolerated or supported by anyone in this country), the Minister had two days to frame an appropriate rebuke that will not inflame any further racial tension.

One would think that the Minister will have greater interest in mending the small divide that exists between the Garifuna people of North Windward and those of the rest of the country. One would think that he will use the opportunity on a political platform to educate the populace on the equality of Vincentians and the need to work together for the benefit of the entire country. Sadly, he missed an opportunity to point out that all races are equal and no person should use racist statements against another even in tense circumstances. What he did was to recreate and strengthen what was before a weak divide and inflame people passions to retaliate against the Garifuna people. Now, we are hearing of tales of “DANG-A” being thrown into our faces.

When you occupy a position of responsibility and trust as the Minister does, you command an influence that the ordinary man only dreams of. Your words can start a war and inflame people’s passions, or it can build bridges across broken relationships between races and groups. There should be a conscience that tells Mr. Daniel of the need to apologize to the nation. He should lead a campaign to eradicate racism in a country that never had that as a problem on a large scale.

You are not Carib, Mr. Daniel. You are diluted racially, just as most of us are. Your statements show you only value persons of your racial stock. You think of yourself more highly than you ought to and are not qualified to represent all the people in North Windward. These racist statements do not reflect the sentiments of the Garifuna people who are traditionally hospitable to all. You should just go!

Shefflorn Ballantyne

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