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Monday, April 10, 2006

We wore black... Now, a minor digression...

Among all of the feedback I've received so far, including phone calls and comments on the blog postings themselves, I received the following email from one of our external Trinis, a lady by the name of Sharmaine. It's really good to know that those of us outside are concerned and want to do something as well. With her permission, her email to me follows.
Keith,

I migrated to the U.S. 6 years ago. I visited last Christmas and was besides myself with fear and rage My sister and I were followed by a thug on Frederick street until we made eye contact with him. At nights my heart pounded every time I heard a noise in the backyard. In New York, my daughter and I walk to the corner store at any hour. I am in school again and ride the subway at midnight without fear. For Christmas I was inside as soon as darkness hit. One day my sister went to work and I was alone in the house. Keith I did not answer the gate bell. In fact I never looked outside, even when I heard my cousin screaming my name across the fence. I had not heard his voice in years and thought that it might be a hoax to get me outside. In Trinidad my sister's house has more metal gates than Fort Knoxx. What is going on?

I taught at one of our composite schools before I left Trinidad. I know that its easy to simply say------"Each one reach one" However, I found great success as a teacher and a mother taking that advice. Parents need to stand up to and with their children. Where in the world are the mothers of these thugs?

Whats up with the crazy driving? My brother- in-law told me that I should opt to be driven and when I got on the road I switched places with him. Mind you I had driven in Trinidad for fifteen years. But I had never seen such recklessness.

Keith my heart aches. You are right. My sister called me and told me to wear black and I felt a moment of relief. I felt that at last somehthing would be done. But we are a 'tongue' people. I have made a vow to play the New York lotto and win. Some of that money will be sent home to clean up the streets. (Pray that I win)

Why in Dicken's name are these monsters holding a God fearing, hardworking, educated beautiful country at their mercy?

My nephew attends QRC and has been held up three times walking home in the evening from school. For what? ----his cell phone and sneakers.

My sister asked me when I intended to return to Trinidad. I told her that the previous Christmas I had gone to Disney world and had a blast. Why should I come home to spend my money in fear?

Keith------we who are out here join our hope and prayers with yours.

Trini in New York.

Sharmaine is right in that we do now seem to have completely lost our way. The latest thing does seem to be road rage. Every day we hear a new story, noting that it might well be the same story with another Trini storyteller's colour and nuance, of some driver going ballistic on the nation's roads. Our patience even with each other seems to have disappeared.

Living in jail, as it were, is nothing new though. We've been doing it since Penguin sang a song of the same name.

We all, I'm sure, appreciate the overseas-based Trinis like Sharmaine's concern, and thank you all for your prayers. Prayer is something that we do need right now. We used to be a praying and God-fearing nation. At some point, we did have it right, and it's time we strove to get back there.

The problem though is that, despite Sharmaine's and other well-minded Trinis care and concern, there is another group whose concern is in grim contrast. We hear coming out of the US and Canada over the years that other Trinis are using the crime situation as a tool to sully the country's image even further in the eyes of the international community, painting a picture far, far worse than is reality. Does anyone remember the call to split the country in two, calling the southern portion Indesh, on the grounds that certain people were being terrorized and targeted with violence? That is kind of care that we really don't need. These people don't really have the country's interests at heart, and probably wouldn't give two hoots if the US finally took them on and sent a naval blockade because of their propaganda and half-truths. We need other right-thinking Trinis like Sharmaine to stay in touch with home and speak out against those who seek, from outside and for their own gain, to kick us while we're already down and struggling to get back up.

The country does need help other than that too. We'd all love to get rich and do our own thing to help, but there are ongoing efforts here that only really need a lot of little hands. My employers, for example, deduct 20 dollars from my salary every month for charity. When I thought about it recently, that's a minimum of 20 dollars by some 3,000 of us every month. That's good money that's invested, earns interest on the balance, and is paid out as donations to any number of children's and educational charities. Imagine how much could be done if each Trini abroad donated one day's lunch money to some social support organisation here. And that's all it takes - one day bandin' yuh belly in support o' home.

We can get where we need to be, you know. Like everything - and yes, we know that Trinis have no patience - it will just take a little time. The crime problem did not come out of nowhere. It took years of ambivalence and neglect to get to what it is. It's not going to go away in a day or a week or even a year. We all need to bind together - Government, NGOs, and the public at large - to fix this. We all have a responsibility and a part to play no matter how small. Otherwise, we may never get our country back...

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