“How many rivers do we have to cross
before we can talk to the boss?
All that we’ve got, seems we have lost
we must have really paid the cost.”
– Bob Marley, Burnin and Lootin
If yuh think the shooting of Denelson Smith and Mark Richard does not affect you because your particular class position affords you the chance to ignore the reality of others – yuh lie. And plentee people here frighten Dey racist and classist too, but rell plentee frighten. Because if yuh child pass for a school in Laventille, it go affect yuh pocket for a private one. When you have to give transport to friends or colleagues from the area, it might affect yuh honesty. And when wayz give you a shortcut through the hill when yuh in traffic, it affect yuh backside.
Few times we are offered the truth about ourselves. Our prophets and cries of everyday mothers, fathers and sons are often ignored for the ‘expert’ opinions of politicians, policy experts and media pundits that determine profits from headlines rather than printing continuous commitments for us to be aware.
Morpheus offered Neo a choice between two pills. Or did he? The red pill signified a direct confrontation with reality and truth about the world. The blue pill was something that carried you through tomorrow as if nothing happened, the status quo continues and “ignorance is bliss.”
The dilemma that was presented to Neo and all of Trinidad and Tobago is not that there are two pills – one of truth and the other of fiction. The dilemma is that choosing the red pill puts you in a perpetual state of questioning, creating an “examined life” in a Socratic sense.
The brutal murders of two young boys, a “youth issue” by all means that should mobilise the youth population, makes the fact of class inequality in society obvious and blatant without disguise. You see: the price of some lives in T&T are valued with less worth and possess less political capital than others and as long as this continues, politically monstrous statements on Facebook and Twitter and sermons of hypocrisy in parliament will crowd our mind space or win a Road March in a year of shitty soca musc instead of bringing comfort to communities in pain.
This is structural, more than an individual tragedy. This is the direct product of continuous governments state-funded empowerment of gang leaders for political muscle in these areas; the maladministration of schools that were touted as “innovative” and “rooted in communities” that have endured perpetual neglect of Education authorities from complaints about the architecture of the school to the population matters; and the failure of the State to integrate civic-minded, grassroots organised voices into the development agenda (NB: The Black Power Revolution was trampled for this).
We have the choice to be aware that we live in a Trinidad and Tobago where “Trinidad nice, Trinidad is a paradise” and full-page colour photographs of distinguished slim-bodied Alumni of prestige schools make front pages for lookin’ pretty in old boys/girls fetes OR a Trinidad and Tobago that has communities and citizens who live on the margins and are in dire need of economic rehabilitation and widespread support to revive them from an abominable social death.
Take this tragedy and ask yuhself some questions.
Is den we go know dat school uniforms doe offer yuh protection
den we go know it have man whoz fourteen borrowin gun and resting corn
den we go know dat by de basketball court, de KFC man geh rob he bike, so dey doe deliver no more and taxis stop at dark, so no food does reach up dey in de night
den we go know bout the ambulance dat ask de woman to get a drop to the police station to meet she because “up dey is a hot spot”
Is den we go know.
Featured Image by Dominic De Bourg, Journey of Power (2009)