Last Saturday, three men were shot dead in their neighbourhood around 2.30 p.m. Six hours later, the newspapers went to press not knowing the identity of two of the men while the other one was more likely to be named as “Warlord”. They were nobodies.

On social media, some rejoiced and wrongly accused them of criminal acts, including the shooting of a police officer. How could we not know their names? How could we callously kill them and not know their names? Easy. They are nobodies.

Sadly, they are not the only nobodies in our country. Nobodies are found everywhere and from every ethnicity. They are the poor lagoon dwellers. They are the peasant farmers who can no longer make a living by feeding us because of large scale theft of State lands.

They become invisible since to acknowledge their presence is unsettling. They are bullied and we remain silent when state violence pushes them off the land which is then given to large business interests.

We retrench them but never speak their names. It does not matter, a circular letter would work. Or so the story goes...for now.

In 1962, there was a dream that every child, regardless of their family or social background, would have an opportunity to improve their lot in life. Educational opportunities expanded. Rich and poor lived side by side without the poor having a sense of inferiority. All went to the same schools and churches.

If your parents did not have an idea of where you could reach, the priest or teacher knew and mentored you. If your mother worked for a wealthy family, you were often cared for as a child of that family.

You were somebody. We were told that “our future was in our schoolbags” and we had “boundless faith in our destiny” even as we dared to believe “here every creed and race find an equal place”.

Now? Black holes of death and despair. Not just in Laventille. Despairing poverty knows no race nor political party. It is a myth that there are no poor East Indians. They too are invisible to all, scorned by all. The uncomfortable vision we filter out.

Poverty is a family tradition, solidified in the family structures, and by religions that offer no social support and by politics.

Poverty breeds pessimism, negatively impacting masculinity and thereby destroying homes. Children and wives are abused even though the abuser’s drug of choice may differ.

In some communities, it is alcohol and in others, marijuana and cocaine. They live in hovels or in an HDC development and can scarcely do the schoolwork yet the well-intentioned pontificate about the chances that are available but never recognise the handicaps which hold the nobodies back.

Nobodies are not chauffeured in fancy cars to school. They have full-time jobs, “mothering and fathering” their siblings, which robs them of the joys of childhood. They cower when the “rum talks”.

Their hopelessness leads to a lack of imagination and robs the will to take on life. The teacher, no longer the mentor, is as hopeless as they are, and the church is silent in observing their pain. The dice is loaded against them.

Ralph Ellison (1952) captured the pain of these nobodies and the societal cost. “I am invisible because people refuse to see me... when you feel like this... you begin to bump people back... you strike out with your fists, you curse and swear to make them recognise you...” Since then, times have changed. Basil Davis was a nobody whose name we learnt in our fear.

We were the “essential” but now the “dispensable” workers.

As the Black Lives Matter movement insists, ‘Say my name!”

Will we do so willingly, or will we be forced to do so?

Noble Philip

Blue Range

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Newly-released video of the police involvement in the Beetham protest in which the pregnant Ornella Greaves was killed calls for a serious review of the statement by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith that no officers were around when she was shot.

While the public is yet to see the video on which the Commissioner has based his claim, new video clips being shared on social media show a large number of police officers, with guns drawn, descending on protesters and shooting in the midst of the protesters with their hands up chanting “Don’t shoot”.

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines “unreality” as “the quality of not being or seeming to be real”.

Will what awaits us after August 10 subdue the unreality that normally pervades a general election campaign in Trinidad and Tobago? Will we be real?

My principal but probably vain hope for the general election, to be held on August 10, is that it will not polarise the country further.

Realistically, one cannot hope for more, and it is mamaguy to feed us dreams of unity and overcoming, while our leaders are likely to engage in verbal warfare, way beyond the so-called cut and thrust of political debate.

I met Sophia Chote only once, but was enchanted by the intellectual sophistication and emotional maturity of her columns. Her writing reminded me of the quali­ties that one found in the thinkers of the romantic movement of the 19th century: a belief in democracy and republicanism, an appreciation for the sublime and transcendence and, most of all, a belief in the power of imagination.

I don’t know why Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar thought it necessary to appeal to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to invite a team of observers from The British Commonwealth and/or Caricom to witness the conduct of the general election that will take place on August 10.

This letter is addressed to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. Sir, following the recent protests staged by the people of severely challenged communities over the killing of three residents, you have made a masterful response and appointed a committee to undertake an analysis of the situation and make recommendations on the way forward.