As a foreigner living in Trinidad for some few years, I realized that there are different opinions/prejudice and stereotypes with regards to the Syrians and local "whites" that live in the country.
One of the most common things I heard is that they are the *big* criminals and the one that *own* the drugs in the country.
I also heard that they are generally "racial" and that they like to live separately of everybody else and that they exploit their employees in order to become more rich and maintain their luxury lifestyles.
What are your thoughts about the Syrians and local "whites" that live in the country? And...be honest with your answer! Do you have something against them? Do you hold a grudge because they have money? or do you think all this are just statements made by people who are jealous and envious of these people?
Beware the day when any of the people involved want to stop the dialogue, not the day when the dialogue is passionate. -- Pohl posted to Slashdot (Mar 24, 1999)
As with any stereotype, the generalization may not hold true for all, but especially in some sections of each community, there may be a basis of truth to them.
The elite wealthy part of any society in the world, can be accused of living separately to everyone else, exploiting their employees to get rich, etc.
However, in the traditional Syrian and Lebanese, and even French/white society in Trinidad, it is true that they had (and some still have) very strict societal rules about only marrying within their own 'clan', for reasons that generally boil down to keeping the money in the family, though there other platitudes they give for their traditions (which still exist to this day, among some families) of arranged marriages, etc.
As for drug dealing and white collar crime, that isn't limited to any ethnic background, anywhere in the world. It however is true, that the "kingpins" of the drug trade here in Trinidad are among our wealthy elite... therefore many of that set are under what I think is justifiable suspicion.
Do I have anything against them because of their colour, or because they are wealthy? Not at all.
Do I believe that any businessperson regardless of race who exploits their employees in order to afford an extra Audi this year, will answer for their actions to God? Definitely.
I remember when the march against crime took place, some people were just furious to see local whites marching, it even made news headlines like if they are not supposed to be there like if they are not Trinidadians also. It seems like everything goes down to colonialism talk and some "grudge" hold because of slavery time. This is my personal impression. Look at this article about the The Keith Noel 136 Committee , it is called "More white saviours". The writer of the article has some good and valid points...yet this IS what I am talking about:
|The truth is that whites in this country are somehow seen as impartial, as credible, as those on whom 'both sides' can depend. They are supposedly above the racism debate, which has been confined to Africans and Indians. The Whites, Syrians and mixed groups are seen as the 'true' non-racist Trinis who go to cricket in the Trini Posse stand and advertise Carib beer in fun loving commercials. They go to Maracas Beach and eat bake and shark, play Mas religiously and patronize theatre and the arts. They control the business interests and so they are seen as being 'concerned' with the bottom line, so of course their motives are not questioned. They continue the construction of the white saviour / plantation owner who only intervenes in the squabbles of its slaves when it begins to affect his own great house and has all the impartiality of a supreme judge. The biological family of Keith Noel certainly did not question their motives or the futility of the exercise. Blacks are only too glad when whites appear to become their champions and appear to be caring about their issues. It gives the situation some validity, as if the big boys are now in your corner. They are quite content to be someone's pet Negro for a day and allow themselves to be used.|
| "The identification parade at the police station was a torture session. They told me to knock on this door, three times. Then there was this crude bellowing: |
""Who is there, what is your name," or some such nonsense. It was their game. The officer demanded that I shout my name and address in the full hearing of the criminal suspects.
"I was told to identify the man who robbed me. "You must walk around and touch the one you say took your money and bag." I wanted to faint. The men were mocking me, calling me names-whitey, ***. They spoke just like the officer. He could have been one of them.
"He had shouted my name and address, and I was supposed to touch one of those mocking, giggling gangsters. I said "I don't recognise anyone sir." Of course, I saw the bandit, but I was glad to get away from those policemen. I feel the gun every day," Victoria lamented, "Panday is a cadaver on UNC. I have to leave this country."
Dr Owen asked, "Did they rob you because you looked like a tourist, and at the station you got special treatment because you are white?"
"I am not white. What the hell does it matter if I was? I saw my great grandmother's picture. She was black. Dr Job is right, "who among the local whites are white?" Nobody deserves to be afraid to walk in Port-of-Spain or stay at home alone because of her skin colour.
LDS, honestly I know first-hand the stupid colour-prejudices of Trinidadians. My family is mixed, so I get called "white" while my sister gets called "black", one brother gets called the "indian" one and others are "reds". I've had people ask me if I'm adopted, or whether my mother had an outside man.
However, watching the so-called 'death march' I was angry. I was angry because I saw "white folks" who I know, that regularly smoke ganja, marching against crime. I saw some of the most corrupt businessmen in our community, hailed as leaders and asked to give speeches. I saw them take the name of some of world history's most horrible and brutal moments and turn it into a street-parade.
When I asked members of the Keith-Noel committee, what their purpose was, in that march - they got angry, cussed me and told me they wished that all Trinidadians like me were dead. Silly me, I just thought that if you were standing up publicly against something, you ought to have at least one idea for a solution to the problem?
So, while I do understand completely the problem "white folks" in Trinidad encounter, I do not have sympathy for the Keith Noel Committee. The way I see it, if Steven Cadiz cared as much about the man as he claimed to after the brutal murder, he would have paid him a salary that would have allowed him to move out of his mother's house and marry his fiancee of 9 years. So no, I don't have sympathy for that particular bunch of hypocrites.
Your second example though, does still happen here - I have seen that sort of thing, first-hand. I believe though, that if that woman instead of being afraid or disgusted with the horrible black policemen, had approached them in a normal fashion, she wouldn't have had that much trouble... I also know that from experience.
|However, watching the so-called 'death march' I was angry. I was angry because I saw "white folks" who I know, that regularly smoke ganja, marching against crime.|
|I believe though, that if that woman instead of being afraid or disgusted with the horrible black policemen, had approached them in a normal fashion, she wouldn't have had that much trouble... I also know that from experience.|
Didn't you see fellow East Indians or Blacks who regularly smoke ganja marching against crime too? What is the difference then?
|What makes you think that she did not approach them in a normal fashion?|
|Nobody deserves to be afraid to walk in Port-of-Spain or stay at home alone because of her skin colour.|
|I have been told by some, that "if you tried, you know you could pass for white" - as though that would be something worth my time.|
|Firstly, because I have seen the attitudes of many of the so-called 'white folks' here in Trinidad. I have been told by some, that "if you tried, you know you could pass for white" - as though that would be something worth my time. I have seen how they (generally) act and react to the darker shades of skin tones, with comments and slurs that honestly have made me give up friendships purposefully, time and time again.|
The very fact that the woman in the story is convinced that they only treated her that way because of skin colour, shows her attitude in the first place.
|Ridiculous! I have never been afraid, walking in Port-of-Spain, nor stayed at home because I'm afraid of all the "darkies" -|