WE ARE ONE

135

OPINION

We are yet to get over the gender barrier.

As a matter of fact, as a nation we are yet to cross over the things that divide us, the issues that challenge matters basic to our traditions and when we are faced with these, we pour scorn upon them which results in the marginalisation of our people.
We have set far too many boundaries which have boxed us in and prevent our own from reaching their true potential. And from the moment one of us be­gins to act enlightened, either the enlightened one or the ben­eficiary of the enlightenment be­comes the subject of ridicule and malaise in a way that is far too difficult to imagine.
It is not just within the recent past that Chief Justice Ivor Ar­chie has demonstrated the knack for identifying talent.
Unlike many other of his pre­decessors, he has shown that in his pursuit for development all persons capable of making that upward move are considered, and in so doing he has shattered the glass ceiling which is nothing more than a thick layer of male mass which dominated the judi­ciary over epochs of time in our short history.

The Chief Justice is making room at the top for women

Sure there have been female judges and females appointed to the Appeal Bench before his time but these were mere tokens, pa­tronizing the fairer folk as true patriarchy does. But never before in our history have we seen such a determined move to elevate women who generally find them­selves suppressed by reason of their sex and forbidden to climb professional echelons.
So the Chief justice is making room at the top for our women, and rightly so for our girl folks need to see their own kind as leaders to inspire them to make the effort to start their climb.
In 2017, Avalon Quinlan-Wil­liams and Marcia Ayers-Caesar were promoted and this caused a furore for other specific reasons but the many who were closely watching the Judiciary over the past few years welcomed the in­tent manifested in the promotion of these women.
Probably it was this bold­ness that encouraged the current Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Chris­topher Rowley to break with tra­dition and lead the appointment of the first female President in Trinidad and Tobago, Her Excel­lency, Paula Mae Weekes, one whose stellar career has shown that she is quite capable. It may be just around the corner for us to see a female heading the PNM which has never occurred, not even once, in that party’s 64-year old history.
The Chief Justice, on the oth­er hand is clearly determined to give the fairer sex a fair chance by exalting them within the Ju­diciary and the appointments of Justice Gillian Lucky and MMe Justice Mira Dean-Armorer give credence to the Chief Justice’s deliberate policy. It was the Sun­shine Today which broke the story, as usual, in its Issue # 86 of Friday 24th, January 2020.

Social media was alit with posts

However, within the Judiciary the insularity, the hate, the rheto­ric of divide again raises its ugly head and this happens every time, especially when females are ap­pointed to positions of power.
Social media was alit with posts that were broadcast that were not just demeaning but that were questioning the sex of these candidates and also inter­rogating their right to occupy such spaces based on their sexual
orientation.
I do remember that the Presi­dent also received such a baptism of fire when the fact that she is unmarried and had no children raised questions about her sexu­ality and Sunshine Today had to ask the question regarding what does one’s sexuality have to do with one’s fitness to hold any of­fice.
In an attempt probably to overcompensate, the President did herself no good in a memo be­speaking that under her Presiden­cy, only married persons were allowed as company for guests who attended functions hosted by her. Whatever became of that I do not know, but regardless what her sexual orientation is, Her Ex­cellency Paula Mae Weekes is doing a hell of a good job thus far and, for a long time to come, the population will remember her speech at the continuation of the Fifth Session of the Eleventh Re­publican Parliament where she chided both the Government and the Opposition for indulging in trivia and not important national issues.

Here is a woman who has legal DNA embedded in her

So, I ask myself, now that Jus­tice Gillian Lucky, in particular, has been promoted, why all of a sudden talk about her fitness for the Appeal Bench has become the talking point on social media. And what makes the situation even worse is the fact that much of the attacks on her are coming from her colleagues some twelve of whom she has bypassed.
It is as though we fail to re­member that here is a woman who has legal DNA imbedded within her. She is the daughter of the celebrated Appeal Court Judge Anthony Lucky whose contributions to our judicature can never be forgotten.
It is as though we choose to forget that Gillian Lucky is a bril­liant lawyer, a former Member of Parliament who performed with fire and distinction in the abso­lute Court of our Land and made contributions in her debates to advance civilisation as we know it in our country.
It is as though recall has es­caped us so we choose to ignore the fact that Gillian Lucky’s law school has produced some of the finest young legal minds in our country. And in spite of all her elevations her contributions to legal development in our country through the development of our youth is what will continue to en­sure that suitable candidates for both the legislature and the judi­ciary are available.
I have even read texts that ac­cuse the Chief Justice of promot­ing persons of like sexuality and this bothers me because if we are to advance beyond restrictive thought we have to examine the content and the contributions we all are capable of making, rather than dwell on our differences and use that as a tool to keep us down.

There was a time that Rastafarianism was taboo in our country

Many years ago, Fitzgerald Ethelbert Hinds would never have made it to Parliament be­cause there was a time that Ras­tafarianism was taboo in our country.
It is not that I believe he pos­sesses the wisdom or the content to be there but that would be my only criterion for not voting him into office; his Rastafarianism hairstyle would not be the basis for denying him my vote.
There was a time when black people, daughters and sons of African descent, could not sport their natural hairstyle and work in banks in Trinidad and Tobago. But that too has changed thanks to 1970 which forced financial institutions to judge black peo­ple based on their qualifications and not the kinkiness of their
hair.
In recent times Islam has come under attack as Muslims are be­ing judged by radicalism across the globe and not by the practice they manifest at home in their Mosques. All Muslims within recent times were treated with suspicion and viewed as possible terrorists.
But there is a shift because the world is now beginning to recognize that Muslims cannot be judged by the actions of their radical brothers and should never be alienated on that basis.
The shift though that seems hardest to make is that shift to see women not as housewives, not as inferior or objects of sex but complete human beings equal to men.
Yes, women are climbing the ladder and making the change even though the prerequisites to do so are different.
Yes, women are being promot­ed but still in this day and age, in many cases, the salaries paid to men are still different from the ones paid to women holding the same job.
I cannot help but express how backward I felt reading narra­tives of hate by people across social media platforms. That is indicative of our lack of growth and development and the will of our leaders to cultivate an all-in­clusive environment.
One can only hope that as we strive to find our identity that part of that search would embrace all as one and not shun those among us based on their differences.
Yes, we are all Trinbagonians. Just as they are all judges.