A virtual national symposium on the eve of Independence on ‘Understanding and Reconciling Race Relations in Trinidad and Tobago’ was an “appropriate….first step” to what facilitators and presenters hoped will be a “meaningful journey” to help bring understanding and unity to this deep, enduring and underlying issue plaguing the country.
Sunday’s symposium hosted by The University of The West Indies’ Faculty of Law and the Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) provided talks from a body of scholars and thought leaders who have spent much of their professional lives exploring this discussion.
The symposium began 1 p.m. via https://www.facebook.com/UWISTA with the national anthem and prayers by various religious leaders.
The four-hour-long symposium began with a presentation by Justice Donna Prowell-Raphael, chairman of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal on the work on the tribunal and the way it can address complaints of race discrimination. Other presenters were Dr Sheila Rampersad ‘Language awareness and Indian/African relations in Trinidad’; Brother Kwesi Mutema, servant political leader, National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) ‘Facing the reality that a fundamental understanding of race relations is key to the nation’s development’ and cultural historian Dr Raymond Ramcharitar.
A visual presentation by artist Jackie Hinkson on ‘Works of Healing’ was followed by further presentations from Dr Bishnu Ragoonath on ‘The role of political leaders in managing racial harmony in Trinidad and Tobago and Evaluating Adherence to the Code of Ethical, Political Conduct’.
Professor Emeritus Rhoda Reddock presented on ‘Understanding ourselves, confronting shame, blame and internalised racism: Reimagining the future’ and Trinidadian author Earl Lovelace read an excerpt from his book Salt, a novel on the social, political and economic situations of the Caribbean in the aftermath of slavery and colonialism.
The symposium also included testimonials from persons on their experiences with racism.
The final speaker, clinical psychologist Dr Katija Khan delivered ‘Finding an equal place in every race—anti-racist solutions in Trinidad and Tobago’.
As of Monday, August 31, the symposium attracted over 900 comments and 12,000 views.
Follow the Catholic News via catholictt.org for more in-depth articles from the symposium. —KJ