The various ethnic groups of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have “become creolised and integrated” over the last four decades and there is no dog-whistle racism in the country.
This is in contrast to the “elephantine whistle racism” in some developed countries where people are encouraged to chant “send them back” in reference to naturalised citizens, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says.
Speaking at Saturday’s launch of “Renewal @40”, a series of events and activities to mark SVG’s 40th anniversary of independence (Oct. 27, 2019) Gonsalves said that during slavery and very much into the early years of the 20th Century, the ethnic, racial, cultural sections in SVG “each had its own relatively distinct pattern of socio-cultural integration”.
He, however, told the event at the Villa Campus of the Community College that “through the fever of history, we have seen people coming together, intermarriages”, adding that one-quarter of the population is identified in the census as persons who are mixed.
“And in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we do not have any institutional racism and at a personal and individual level, if you find an individual racist, it would be an individual racist and that person would have to hide himself or herself in the privacy of their bedrooms.
“In today’s society, we can teach, in today’s world, we can teach developed countries, some near to us and some not so near to us a great deal about integration. In this land, after 40 years of independence, there is no racism, there is no xenophobia, there is no anti-Semitism, there is no Islamophobia, we see people as individuals, and they have their rights.
“In this country, citizens — all citizens — have the same rights. And we have here in our country, citizens from America who are Vincentian citizens, from Canada, from Britain, from Europe, from all through the Caribbean; Latin America, the Middle East, and every single one of these citizens can vote in an election, they can run for election, including for the office of prime minister.
“In some countries, the dog whistle racism, indeed, it is so heightened, you can’t call it dog whistle anymore, you have to call it elephant whistle racism; some countries, theirs is elephantine whistle racism.
“We did not tell anyone who is a citizen of our country to go back from where they come. We do not chant and we do not encourage anyone to chant ‘send them back’,” Gonsalves said.
The prime minister’s “send them back” comment was in apparent reference to chants at a rally of United States president, Donald Trump.
The president did or said nothing as the chant directed at naturalised US lawmakers continued for close to a minute.