Pundit, Let Us Work for Unity

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Alicia Chamely
By Alicia Chamely

Dear Pundit Satyanand Maharaj,

I must say I am rather perplexed as to why you chose to come after me for “lynching” you in public and branding you a “racist,” which by the way I did not. I simply called you out for stroking racial division in a time of great social strife.

Why did you not go after one of the larger media houses that took your unfortunate statements, stirred the pot and added to the controversy with their “Questions of the Day”? Why did not go after their columnists such as Newsday’s Dr Moriba Baker or the Express, which dedicated their May 2 Editorial to you and race relations in T&T? I mean they dedicated paper and ink, full columns…I mentioned you in two sentences.

Perhaps you thought it was easier to come after a lesser-known columnist at an independent media house. Perhaps you just needed to vent and didn’t think I would engage.


Well sir, you were wrong. Very rarely do I respond to these such things. Over the years I have ruffled a few feathers and as such faced fierce backlash. For the most part I just let things go, my skin is thick.

However, in regard to you and I, I feel it necessary to respond as I hope it will serve as a valuable lesson for you and other public figures in the future.

Respectfully pundit, whether or not you meant to create tension, your statements, which I can assume were made from frustration and anger, were interpreted by the majority of the population as racially divisive and prejudice.

Especially when you use statements such as this: “The crime in Aranguez is against East Indian people because we live in Aranguez. We are the ones being targeted… But the perpetrators are not East Indians, the urban youth, the miscreants of East West corridor.”

You continued describing these “miscreants” as terrorising people to “look for a little change to give their mother because their mother 14 and 15 children to mind,” adding they were “urban youth gang members.”

Around this point at your press conference, I believe you were disturbed by a member of the community who strongly disagreed with your stance.

But you continued, “As a people and ethnicity in Trinidad and Tobago we are under attack.”

In fact, you even addressed racism referring to it as, “one of the best kept open secrets.”

Sir, how did you not expect to receive backlash from this? You stated you were speaking your truth, but… and I need you to pay attention here… anytime you, me, or any public figure puts anything out into public, it will not be judged by what our intentions were, but how it is interpreted by the public.

Remember when our first prime minister used the term “the recalcitrant minority”? He assumed we would take this to mean the opposition and its supporters, which is made up of many ethnicities. However, it was interpreted as an attack on the East Indian people, who represent the majority of then opposition support base.

Again, his totally inappropriate statement was not judged on what he claimed he meant, but by what the public interpreted it to mean.


Yes, I did read the suggestions you gave to curb crime and agreed on your stance against just throwing men into prison without rehabilitative services.

Unfortunately, the positive was out shadowed by the negative and your words were harshly judged.

What I wish you and our leaders understood is that not only is bringing race into situations offensive, its dangerous. It gives racists justification for their belief system, and they run with it.

In these dangerous times, where we are all under threat, we need to come together. I know you were specifically dealing with the problems in Aranguez, but crime is everywhere.

Your statements negated the pain and danger people in all other parts of the country feel, as they were interpreted by many as “forgot the rest you, only people like me in Aranguez matter.”

Sir,  I agree with you in that we all need to put more pressure on our government and branches of national security to do more, but we must do this as a united nation, not a broken one.

Pundit Maharaj, while I mean you no disrespect and wish you no ill intentions, I do caution you. Watch your words, once they are in public, they are open to individual interpretation. It is something I often forget and rightfully get my tailed kicked. So, I urge you, in these times let us work for unity, let us work as Trinbagonians.


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