a terrible admission from a journalist but every now and then I treat
myself to a news blackout. For the usual reasons.
of reading about things that make me angry - like a calypsonian who
demands respect and expects subsidies because he is “promoting the
culture” and is meant to be a social commentator, but can’t accept
defeat gracefully over a party song and goes to court for a car.
of hearing that yet another woman has gone into a coma because her husband
has beaten her senseless; yet another human being turned into minced meat
on the roads because we are too hip, too cool, too proud, too macho to
obey the law and drive properly. Courtesy on the roads is a weakness, and
a true gentleman who uses his strength to protect rather than attack the
weak is a wimp. We are prepared to kill and die for Machismo. Such is its
week we get the same thing wrapped up in a different package; the lament
of the down-trodden Indian, the chant of the outraged African, the boring
statistics of the technocrats, the banal utterances of politicians who
cynically walk over the poor, ill, unemployed or angry masses to place
themselves strategically in a game of power which only benefits the
know that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones but if the truth
be told, sometimes I get sick of reading myself too; so much angst over
and over again. But we write what we are. Small Island people in the New
World. We are all, readers and writers, editors and advertisers,
Panday’s brothers and sisters, Manning’s ladies and gentlemen,
swimming round and round the fish bowl because, we LIVE in one.
self-imposed media blackout, however brief, has its disadvantages. The
last time I treated myself to one I had e-mails from Trinidadians
everywhere, Canada, England, America, saying, “So sorry to hear about
Kitch,” to which I actually replied “What are you sorry about?” and
then rushed out to get a paper and turned on the news which revealed he
had died two days back.
Catch 22 in a fishbowl syndrome. First comes nausea and regret from the
news, then comes relief with the blackout, then comes the stirrings of
curiosity which grow until unbearable, then comes the binging on all the
newspapers, flicking between channels on radio and TV for the news. This
time round, four media items in particular carried me to nausea and regret
at ending my news blackout.
were letters to the editor.
first, a John Austin from Cascade complained that older female flight
attendants should keep their weight under control as since their job does
not demand “highly skilled persons... a pleasing appearance helps
shorten a tedious flight.” Why not male flight attendants? Are female
clients not entitled to “a pleasing appearance?” Can Mr Austin further
demand that all employees performing low skilled jobs, including postmen,
hospital attendants, traffic controllers, construction workers, petrol,
shop and fast food attendants, waiters and waitresses either be
“pleasing” by going on crash diets or are fired for getting old? I
have never heard such sexist, fascist, patronising, hypocritical rubbish
in my life.
other letter writer claimed that domestic violence was CAUSED by women who
are unfaithful to their husbands and then went on to advise men who horn
spouses to do it discreetly. More hypocritical sexism. There is NO excuse
for anyone, man or woman beating up anyone in the home unless that person
is trying to kill you. And if we applied that reasoning to men, then half
the men in this land should be whipped by their wives and girlfriends for
the literature has now revealed that domestic violence is caused by men
who are INSECURE, men who tend to be both bullies and cowards, so they
resort to thrashing anybody woman or child weaker than themselves.
third was a photograph in the front page of the Guardian. That of a
handsome smiling young man in the front page of the Guardian accompanied
by another (older) smiling man and in the background there was a third
man, also smiling.
tableau could be charming except that the smiling young man was being
escorted to court after being charged with the death of his 10-year-old
son, who reportedly died of a broken neck and fractured spine.
Radjman, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, is the hero of our
new generation. The whole world seemed to be smiling with him. Made in
Trinidad and Tobago and there’s plenty more where that came from.
fourth was a TV report which made me want to throw up. In his attempt to
score cheap points in a by-election campaign, opposition MP, Jarette
Narine implied that Education Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, fell ill
because she wore a Baptist outfit and interfered in people’s religion;
on the Baptist holiday. He was sucking up to the African voters but in
fact insulting them, and Baptists, by believing that they would fall for
such base talk. Even Mr Manning appeared to be cringing in the background
while this little man let loose such gobar to the country. You don’t win
an election by crowing over another MP or by mocking a politician’s wish
to partake in a celebration in a multi-racial society. Hundreds of
African, Chinese, White, and people of mixed decent wore saris last year
for Divali, and that was heart-warming. As was Mrs Persad-Bissessar’s
public show of respect to Baptists.
Narine, politicians even if they fall far short of it should have -at
least as a mission statement - that at least one third of any campaign
should deal with issues which affect thousands of our people, like
poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, and the worst of all loss of hope.
to the Baptists is not enough. Formally apologise to Mrs Persad-Bissessar
in Parliament. Power, especially the power of the word, is dangerous in
the hands of the ignorant. Build that library. Round up children whose
parents are too poor to send them to school. Educate Educate Educate.
We’ve lost the last generation since it’s already produced ignorant
letter writers. But we CAN save the new generation if we educate them.
Give them books and they will give us back our humanity.