“As far as I know, 83 percent of the prison population come from specific communities which predicates the need for a strong and distinct national development plan accepted by the entire society for these specific 16 communities and you know what communities they are. Such a plan must include the churches. A change in abortion laws, strong family planning service with cash incentives for voluntary sterilisation re-education.”
I have repeated what Harry Mungalsingh said in the light of some comments which attempt to turn this into a pro-abortion debate. Crucial to this pro-abortion position is that perhaps Harry Mungalsingh was unwise to say this, but after all no big t’ing since sterilisation is voluntary.
Harry Mungalsingh himself claims that he has been misunderstood and quoted out of context: for sterilisation read Black men. And anyway it is voluntary. This is likely to gain Harry Mungalsingh some sympathy: Black men are for Trini society what Eve and the apple are for European society — the original sin and source of all sin and damnation. In both cases this sin has nothing to do with how the society functions. It certainly has nothing to do with how a society manages to select and to exclude. It has to do with sex.
The actual statement however includes “cash incentives” and a “strong family planning service” to 16 specific communities. These then are targeted and subjected to a “strong” — ie, aggressive — “family planning service.” It is hard to see how this can be considered as a voluntary policy of sterilisation.
Sharp demands for cash
These 16 communities are all of the urban poor with sharp periodic demands for cash whether for illness, a funeral, to pay back rents — to give some examples — or to pay a bailor. The extent of poverty in Trinidad and Tobago can be seen by the otherwise preposterous suggestion by Christine Sahadeo that the poverty level for food could be considered as $8.78 per day. With this kind of poverty the offer of money in exchange for sterilisation, coupled by an aggressive family planning service, will exert considerable pressure on people within those 16 specific communities to be sterilised. This can hardly be called “voluntary” even if it isn’t the SS kicking down your door.
Distinct and separate
Of particular importance is the phrase: “ a strong and distinct national development plan accepted by the entire society for these specific 16 communities.” In this phrase Harry Mungalsingh extracts these communities from “the entire society.” It is because they are different and accepted by society and church as outside of policy and national consensus that, according to Harry Mungalsingh, there is a need for a distinct national development plan.
Apartheid and segregation
This is not far from arguments around the elaboration of Apartheid. The word Apartheid comes from the word “separate.” Apartheid theorists sold their policy, not as racial discrimination, but as separate development.
In the same way for segregationists in the Southern United States, segregation was only “separate but equal.” However only a community that is already considered unequal when measured by the provision and standard of key social services, eg, schools and garbage collection, is marked out or indicated for “distinct” and “separate” development. In every case the communities already have a history of unequal integration into the power centre of the State as into its major economic sectors. If it is true that some key businesses in Trinidad and Tobago will not employ those with an address in, say, Morvant or Laventille, this unequal integration is increasing in our time, feeding back into the silo of crime. It is not by chance that centres of major criminality are always also ghettoes and quasi-ghettoes whatever the city and wherever the country. It is this which remains steady and not race.
83 percent of the
Harry Mungalsingh does not speak without reference to the facts. He has his statistics ready: 83 percent of those in prison come form those 16 communities. To be fair to Harry, he is not the first or only one to use the statistics of those in prison in order to analyse crime: Prof Deosoran has done it. The problem is that “those in prison” automatically excludes from analysis those who may have committed the same crime and who are not, and never were, nor will be imprisoned.
Exempt from prison
In all countries there are some people who won’t be arrested because of their status and sometimes their contacts. Few countries however have as delightfully simple categories of legal untouchability as those we have managed to elaborate:
(i) Only visiting foreign Whites in the category of White go to jail. Local Whites are exempt.
(ii) Syrians are now associated with Whites. They are exempt.
(iii) Chinese on the way to join (i) and (ii) but progress may have been slightly stymied by an incursion of foreign Chinese workers.
(iv) Reds — that depends.
(v) After our hou-ha of the Naraynsingh arrest, position of Indians as a category, subject to negotiations.
It is not altogether surprising therefore that 83 percent of prison inmates are from those 16 communities. Translated, all that this says is that the Black urban or quasi-urban poor are not in the exemption categories I have enumerated. Nothing else. If you have doubts about this check out the racial profile of those who are wanted for extradition to the USA or who are caught on land, sea and air in the UK, Canada or the USA.
There is nothing in this that isn’t common knowledge.
It is also common knowledge and indeed the subject of much nostalgia that there was no crime until recently. This nostalgia is not only ourselves. A writer in the Irish Times, tongue in cheek, recently reproduced what was being said in Ireland, about crime sixty, seventy, one hundred or forty years ago. Then too people were bitching that they could no longer go out and leave their key in the front door as once upon a time they could happily do.
In my own lifetime gangs were there, symbolically but not totally represented by Boysie Singh. Feuds were settled, not in courts but by the more convenient, near at hand and sharper dispenser of justice which was the “cutlash.” Corruption was there good and properly represented by the Caura Dam scandal. In those days the epitome of sexual misbehaviour for the Black middle class was not Black man. It was the Yankee soldier. And before that Red man.
I tell this in no way to distract from the seriousness of crime today. Nor am I saying that yesterday’s crime was as horrific as today’s kidnappings and gun crimes. I do tell it to remind ourselves and Harry Mungalsingh, oh yes and the man of zeal: Cadiz, that in the very recent past, crime was not those 16 communities. It was Charlie Village.
Only a little while ago crime in New York was the Italians bringing from Sicily the knowhow and the contacts of the Mafia. Before them were the Irish gangs. Both mixed religion and politics, forbidden guns and the cocaine of the day — alcohol in a “dry” United States.
Blacks and Guilliani, crack cocaine and Bedsty, dancehall and Foxy Brown are only the newest kids on the block.
This amnesia about the very recent past, the carelessness of prison statistics, the programmed decline of reason, the separation of prayer from action, has permitted the upsurge in crime to be seen not as the result of social factors, but as the result of racial factors. Since “race” is held to be unchangeable in a social crisis, behind racial factors, is always the danger of genocide. It is that the lesson of the 20th century.