Everything we consume acts either to heal and nourish us or to poison or harm us. It is important to note that nourishment is not only what we take in through our mouths. Interestingly, what we consume with our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and our bodies can also be considered, “food.”
Food can also be viewed in the context of the conversations going on around us, and those we participate in are also food. The real question is, are we consuming and creating the kind of food that is healthy for us and helps us grow and develop?
When we seek the noble goal of articulating and expressing things that nourish us and uplifts the people around us, we are exhibiting the genuine spirit that is characteristic of what it is to be truly St Lucian, which is feeding love and compassion. On the other hand, when we speak and act in a way that purposefully breeds tension and anger, spewing and boiling at volcanic temperatures, we are promoting violence and suffering.
The latter is perhaps comparable to second-hand smoke where we are ingesting toxic communication exhaled from the fumes of those around us, from what we watch on television or read from various sources.
As a people of wonderful nature, peaceful, loving, understanding and compassionate, we must begin to preoccupy ourselves with thoughts that would espouse our virtues and aspirations. Are we ingesting thoughts that grow our understanding and compassion? Clearly, that is the case which we should always strive for as this is good food that would further catapult us to ascend to the heights of ‘Godly grace’ and virtue that is endemic to the Lucian spirit.
Often, we ingest communication that is engineered and calculated to make us feel bad or insecure about ourselves or judgemental or superior to others. We ought to adopt a posture that is devoid of causing tension and anger with malicious intent in expressing our thoughts and ideas.
Therefore, we must be thoughtful about what we consume and instead communicate in a manner which requires the key vital ingredient of mindfulness. This mandates us to let go of judgements while returning us to what is in us and around us. It helps us know and understand if what is around us is healthy or unhealthy.
There has been for some time, a perverted, spiteful and vicious attack on the “non- negritude” of Allen Chastanet by virtue what Mr Velon John refers to, as the pigmentation of his epidermis. There appears to be a relentless pursuit to attack Prime Minister Chastanet, with what perhaps now clearly borders on the realm of open racism and prejudice because of the colour of his skin.
To put this discourse in its proper context it is momentously important to define and place into setting the definition of prejudice to give further clarity. Prejudice means preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. Someone may decide not to like another person because of their skin colour (this is racial prejudice). There are other forms including religion (religious prejudice) or nationality. Such prejudices can lead to discrimination, hatred or even war.
It is worthy to note when this vicious attack on Allen Chastanet started. It came as a virus which attacks the immune system of those who have less chocolate melanin in their epidermis. I can assure you that it started long before Covid-19.
The biological definition of melanin informs us that it is the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their colour. Melanin which gives dark-skinned people more colour in their skin than light-skinned people is produced by cells called melanocytes.
Melanin is unquestionably a pure factor of the biology of genetics. Prime Minister Chastanet is being crucified on the altar of political pigmentation for a biological factor that he, like many others, was born without or in lesser quantity.
I seem to recall that this colour vendetta or crusade against Chastanet’s colour, which he had no say in, started, when Allen Chastanet did what is a normal practice, of contesting the leadership of the United Workers Party (UWP) in mid-2012.
The Parliamentary Opposition unleashed its political diatribe with a missile of attacks on Chastanet. One of the unforgettable projectiles of antagonistic expression was that those who control economic power now want to control political power. Most certainly, I am aware that almost anyone can offer themselves for public office including the Prime Ministership. As some would say, what’s wrong with that? Shouldn’t every man, woman or child, irrespective of whether they are “shabin” in complexion or not aspire to the highest offices of our land?
Thankfully we do not have race issues such as Trinidad and Guyana, but we seem to be creating a class issue inflamed by partisan noxious language, which attempts to draw a sharp non-existent divide as articulated by Dr Cornel West, Professor of African American Studies at Harvard University, between chocolate communities and vanilla suburbs.
Racial prejudice particularly when motivated by hostile party-political radical rhetoric, ferments, fuels and cements a kind of hatred and breeds unhealthy political tensions and contributes to violence that is uncalled for. As Martin Luther King Jr, reminds us, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it . . . It is to be noted that the psychology of violence is not only manifested in its physical attributes of reactionary responses through brute force, but it lingers and anchors in the form of a permanent domicile in the mind, infects and contaminates the heart and soul, robbing it of kindness, love and positive affection towards others.
The time is and will always be now, to understand that race and prejudices are a litmus test for maturity (especially political), a test to wake up from releasing the toxic venom of hatred fuelled by blatant and discriminatory attacks solely based on the colour of one’s skin.
Muhammad Ali points out that “hating people because of their colour is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which colour does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.” To use politics as a vehicle to promulgate, breed and contaminate others with the virus of hatred through open racism in our politics, is like spreading “Political Corona”.
We therefore need to continuously wash our hands daily of this contagious political malaise and wear a mask of love, kindness and friendship towards each other, even if we disagree with each other’s point of view.