“They must be broken; Keep the body and take the mind. In other words, break the will to resist.” —James Lynch.
There are very real tensions in Trinidad and Tobago society. We underestimate the importance of situation and context in human behaviour.
The front page of the Sunday Guardian blared “La Puerta cries out; Youth jobless youth forced into a life of crime; plead for jobs. The story written by Joshua Seemungal is a reminder that for want of a nail, the war on crime, youth, gun and gang violence, will be lost.
Last Friday, I attended the Conference on the 50th anniversary of the Trinidad and Tobago Black Power Revolution. A collaboration between the University of the West Indies (UWI) SALISES and the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC).
The two-day event had knowledgeable panellists. All the presentations were informative. In particular, three presentations: Dr Tyehimba Salandy (Analysis of NUFF—National Union of Freedom Fighters and T&T Rastafarians), Archbishop Jason Gordon (Black Power Revolution Unfinished) and Dr Preeya Mohan (Black Power and Entrepreneurship in Trinidad and Tobago). People who should have been in the room weren’t.
Fifty-three (53 years) later the dots connect—youth violence and gang culture are iterations of 1970, 1990 and other social upheavals in Trinidad and Tobago. Young people were on the front line of the Black Power Movement.
On sale at the conference was a booklet entitled “How to Make a Slave”. The content included an address made on the banks of the James River in 1712, by a slave owner James Lynch, owner of a plantation in the West Indies who was invited by slave owners in the United States of America to come and advise them how they should deal with their slaves.
In his address, Lynch said: “In my bag here, I have a foolproof method for controlling your black slaves. I guarantee every one of you that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least three hundred years. My method is simple. Any member of your family or overseer can use it. I use fear, envy and distrust for control purposes. The black slaves after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on, and will become self-refuelling and self-regeneration for hundreds of years, maybe thousands.”
The Lynch playbook articulated in 1712 lives on down through the centuries. The dots connect.
Ignorance is not bliss. Sports organisations take note: the turmoil of crime threatens the existence, growth and opportunity of sports and sports stakeholders. However, the bigger picture is blurred as sports decision-makers fail to connect the dots while for want of a nail, the youth suffer and cry and the future of sport is lost.
Given the significance of the Black Power Revolution in Caribbean history, I looked around Daaga Auditorium and wondered where were the stakeholders of the sport. They missed out on the opportunity to have a conversation with Dr Roy McCree, and servant leader of NJAC Kwasi Mutema about the important role sport must play in national development.
The dots connect between 1970, 1990, NUFF, WOLF, Block four, Block five, the Black Power uprising, the Mutiny led by Raffique Shah and Rex Lasalle, and the ongoing marginalisation of unemployed and under-employed young people.
“We must sacrifice all that we have in order to teach and educate our children, for the future is in their hands.” —Patrice Lumumba
From the ground up, sport is not just about celebrating medals it’s also leading conversations about humanity, better mental and physical fitness, equality and what it means to achieve with integrity. Sports leaders must strive to change, innovate and be a benchmark in the way, we behave.