Greetings Trinidad & Tobago,
I was moved to express my feelings regarding Mayor Tim Kee, his comments of victim blaming, and violence against women in the community; however, before reading any further please note three very important things:
- I would like to pay the most utmost respect to the family, friends, and the spirit of Asami Nagakiya.
- I would like to send my sincere thanks to all the people that make T&T Carnival a great experience for all residents and visitors alike.
- I would like to say that I in no way mean to offend anyone by my opinion documented in this piece; however, I wanted to share it in order to empower and salute the people of this awesome country.
With all of that being said, let me state this as clearly and as frankly as possible; “I don’t care about Mayor Tim Kee and anything good or bad that may or may not come out of his mouth. You may be remarking that it is awfully easy for me to say since I am a Canadian and he is not my mayor; however, I am saying it nonetheless. I will add that spending any of your precious time, energy, or consideration on him or his sentiments would be a total waste. Again, others may criticize me for being insensitive and I assure you that is not the case. I do not think that you should spend your time worrying about Mayor Tim Kee because his sentiments alone have proven that he is only your leader by ceremony and not by truth or conviction. In other words, you as a people are on another level so to speak. I also think that you should not pay him any mind because the more attention you pay to him the more power you give him. Asami’s murder and Mayor Tim Kee’s awful headlines made global headlines and trust me, the world knows that the good people of Trinidad in no way agreed with his sentiments.
The truth of the matter is that the power to change the way women are treated in this country lies with the people. You are all great citizens of a great nation. Anyone can see that Trinidad has a strong culture, fantastic energy, but most of all, a warm and courageous heart. The outpouring of love, sympathy, and sadness for this young person was truly touching. The action that the citizens took to show how sorry they were that this took place in their country was moving. The words of one man doesn’t wipe that love away. The words of one man are just the words of one man. Silly people say silly things, but you can put silly people in their place and keep them there until they change their ways. The sad thing about this story is that for Mayor Tim Kee to say those words shows that he simply does not know any better. If a charitable person that is close to him wants to help him to learn about violence against women, he would be better for it; however, this will not change the current state of affairs for women in Trinidad.
Man or woman, child or adult, the best thing you can do to improve the welfare of women in Trinidad is take some quiet time to reflect on your own views, perspectives, and actions.
- When women that you do not know pass by do you make comments that would make your grandparents ashamed?
- Do you know of a neighbour or family member that is in an abusive relationship but you turn a blind eye because it isn’t your business?
- Do you force your children to hug and kiss strangers even when they say it makes them feel uncomfortable?
- Do you tell your children they are stupid or allow others in positions of authority to do the same? When you hear “no” do you listen?
- When violence occurs in a different racial/class category from your own do you disregard it?
- Do you look at sexual pictures or videos of young people that may have been taken without their consent?
- Are you outraged by the number of Trinidadian people that simply go missing and most likely are being trafficked into sexual slavery?
- Are you taking part of the grooming process that occurs in sexual and physical abuse?
- Are you allowing yourself to be groomed for abuse because you are afraid of being alone?
- Do your children witness you being emotionally, verbally or physically abused my a loved one or family member?
What is going on mentally that is creating the present environment around you? If you don’t like what you see around you what are you doing to change it?
I know that what I am saying may come off “preachy” but it comes from a place of understanding and some regret. You see, I am from a city called Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Canada. Unfortunately, our reputation isn’t great. We are known for having the highest murder rate in Canada, as being the most racist city in the country, and for the horrible treatment of our Indigenous Women. We are only beginning to learn that no elected official can fix this issue for us and their often ignorant remarks are just s symptom of the infection that we have allowed to fester for so long. I am not proud to say that I have looked the other way when my fellow citizens were being mistreated because of my own prejudiced attitudes. Last year they found the remains of a 15-year-old girl named Tina Fontaine in the Red River and in my heart I knew that the consciousness of the city was beginning to change. We could no longer remain silent and we had to stand up in our own communities and show that enough was enough. Most importantly, we had to look in the mirror and come to terms with our own nasty opinions; whether we admitted to others or not.
I am proud of the huge number of Trinidadians that rose up out of apathy to condemn what Mayor Tim Kee said; you should be proud, too. Conversations of the travesty of his senseless words were buzzing in all nooks and crannies of the country. Nevertheless, it is time to let him learn whatever lesson he needs to learn on his own. Focus on the most important person of all, yourself. Whether you know it or not, at least one person is looking up to you as a role model and you will lead by example. What is your legacy going to be? What are you doing today to make next years’ carnival a safe one for everyone? Better yet, what are you doing today to make your personal environment a safe one. I said it before and I will say it again, I am not concerned about Mayor Tim Kee and anything that he says; however, I have been truly touched by the people of Trinidad and Tobago. My condolences again go out of the family and friends of Asami Nagakiya; may her spirit be remembered and may she rest in peace.
With Great Thanks,
Keisha Paul is a business consultant and facilitator that focuses on teaching small business skills to budding entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds. Her work has brought her to England, St Kitts, and to work with stakeholders from all corners of the world. She is involved in both the private sector as well as in the nonprofit and development communities. Currently, she is focussing on growing her client base and investing in her business.