After spending several months reviewing nearly four years’ worth of ‘In the Diaspora’ articles as part of my research, I must overwhelmingly reject S Khan’s mischaracterization of the column as one which promotes “pro black culture,” in his letter which appeared in SN on May 23 (‘An overwhelming imbalance’). I should also add that I am at a loss to understand what exactly this pro black culture he mentions consists of.
Let us assume for the moment that he is referring to who the contributors are or claim to be. Anything beyond even a superficial analysis of its contents will reveal a myriad of opinions from writers of Indian descent from across the Caribbean and its diaspora (not to mention African, Hispanic, Indigenous etc), on a wide array of topics which cannot be neatly boxed in to fit the incredibly narrow confines of what S Khan deems to be appropriate “Indian-ness.”
What I can attest to is that the ‘In the Diaspora’ column is one of the few in the Caribbean which overwhelmingly seeks to bridge the racial divide in the region instead of descending into a racially charged echo chamber by placing Indians in the corner and having them write only about “Indian things.” While there have been many articles covering the topics of indentureship, culture, language and even poetry about curry – these contributors who range from students, community activists, retired professors, artists and journalists have also tackled a number of other important issues facing us across the region today like corruption, domestic violence and inequality. Such efforts and venues to promote cultural understanding as a crucial issue but one among many should be applauded, not dismissed.
In conclusion, the perceived barrier which prevents one from making the most out of the ‘In the Diaspora’ column does not have anything to do with their racial background, visa status or party affiliation – but rather with the openness of their mind.
Department of Political Science,
University of Toronto