I joined Banc of America Securities in Charlotte, NC in the year 2002 as a bright eyed, bushy tailed youth straight out of college. The first thing they did was put us through a 6 week training course on all of the bank’s products and the way the bank operates.

One of the first lessons we were taught is what I like to call “the front page principle”. Basically we were told to never, ever do anything that if we ended up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal we would bring shame to ourselves, to our family but most of all to Bank of America. This was the Wall Street version of the “mommy rule”. The one that says never do anything that if people found out it would make your mommy cry. Granted this is ironic given the shenanigans of the 2008 financial crisis but still…

Unfortunately in Trinidad and Tobago, shame and self-respect are a couple things we lack in sufficient quantity. Far too often we see leaders on the front page accused of alleged corruption and other illegal activities and they’re smiling, safe in the knowledge that even if on the remote chance they’re prosecuted nothing will happen to them.

The youth of the nation see that and they learn from it. When parents are trying to teach their kids right from wrong the argument that there are consequences for wrong choices holds no water. If you tell a child don’t steal or you will go to jail, they can retort with numerous examples of prominent people who have done the very same thing and continue to walk around with impunity.

But I digress…my point is that, I know I’ve done lots of things in my life that I’m not proud of and thank God there was no social media in those days or people filming me in the recent past. However, clearly Naila Ramsaran and others like her do not share the same healthy respect of either the front page principle or even the mommy rule and that is the scary part.

As I’ve said elsewhere, this offensive behavior is learned and most of the time learned at home. I rebuke the assertion that negative interactions with persons of a particular group could somehow excuse you looking negatively at the whole group. If the neighborhood pot hound bites me does that mean I would go home and abuse my dogs because ALL dogs bad?

It’s easy to say you’re not racist or have no prejudice towards anybody but are you truly cognizant of what you’re teaching your offspring? As Trinis we have racism built into the fabric of our culture. Things like anti-immigrant sentiment, the view that all Vene women are prostitutes trying to steal your man, songs like Chinee Parang, referring to every Asian lady as “ling-ling” or supporting politicians solely based on race are all unacceptable.

None of us are perfect but we should strive to reach as close to it as possible. You shouldn’t be going to whatever place of worship you go to every week and speak of loving all men equally when you have hate in your heart.

Ok…coming off my soap box.


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