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White Privilege? What It Means In Trinidad and Tobago

”With Privilege Comes Responsibility”

Trinidadian Yoga Business Owner Troy Hadeed Speaks Out About Race, White Privilege In T&T

“I have a responsibility”.

These four powerful words came from Trinidadian, Troy Hadeed who is a part of the White community, a minority represented by 0.59 per cent in his homeland.

A Yoga entrepreneur, Hadeed knows of his White privilege, an admission he made to himself as a young boy and again during June 10 LinkedIn Live with host, Pauline Joseph of LinkedIn Local Caribbean.

In an hour session under the theme, “A Discussion about White Privilege in Trinidad and Tobago” to a mostly Caribbean virtual audience, Hadeed bore his soul.

He spoke about his first consciousness about privilege during his childhood growing up with an Arabic father and a European mother and his interaction with schoolmates who were not like him.

“I was definitely aware that there was if you want to call it inequality. I had access to certain things that not everyone had and with that came an element of guilt, of shame which I think is common. But to acknowledge it and move beyond it is powerful,” said Hadeed.

Growing up in a culturally diverse country, Hadeed tried to distance himself from White oppression during his teenage years and took comfort in being identified as “mixed” or “Red Man”. This applied to his Arabic roots too as he would emphasize that he again was mixed if he was identified by his Middle Eastern heritage.

“The underlying thing was I did not want to be different,” said Hadeed.

But identity is fluid; ebbing and flowing throughout a person’s existence. For Hadeed, he remembered his cultural education coming from a place outside of his family and Trinidad and Tobago.

Immersing Into Reggae Culture, Finding Identity

From the age of seven, Hadeed confessed that he immersed himself into Reggae culture. He explained that he was not sure what to do about the revelation of privilege and he used this space to shape his identity.

“I think that influence of Reggae culture had such a profound impact on who I became,” admitted Hadeed.

He added that he was able to relate to Reggae music in a powerful way as the genre spoke for people that were oppressed. For the popular yoga instructor, the music reminded him that he had a voice and a responsibility.

Acknowledge the Racial Separation

Against the backdrop of the current global social climate, Black Lives Matter Movement, Hadeed told host, Pauline and audience that there is a need to acknowledge the racial separation. He wants and he is trying to understand more about racial problems facing people of color.

He stressed the importance of valuing all lives but he urged that the current situation should be addressed. He further explained that for people of lighter complexions, mixed and white people, it is important to have a discussion about race and privilege.

Have More Conversations, “Be vulnerable, be real”

Hadeed is aware that conversations about race and privilege are happening and called for more to occur and for people to be vulnerable and real and “move beyond their Circles of Comfort”.

He added that he did not choose to be born into his amazing family (that he loves dearly) but he emphasized that with his privilege comes responsibility. Hadeed said that people must be courageous and own their privilege.

“For us to ignore what’s happening and live in our little bubble that is denying our responsibility,” said Hadeed.

‘Question The Narrative’

In the last minutes of the interview, The owner of OneYoga asked his audience to question narratives so they can find out who they really are. Hadeed pointed out that slavery was not that long ago and he noted the importance of being vulnerable and exposing oneself.

“We have so much to learn, if we want to be apart of this healing, we need to let go of what we think we know, what we think it is about and we really need to research, to have conversations and begin to look into it,” said Hadeed.

See the Facebook Live Video here.

Follow Krystal Penny Bowen at LinkedIn

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