My country is in a quiet crisis. The crime level reached such a height that the government declared a State of Emergency with certain parts of the country under curfew. The citizenry is nervous and the media’s talking heads are more polarised than ever. Amid this, an unexpected figure has emerged to set the blogosphere aflame and the nation in uproar. She is a teenager from Northern Trinidad known only by her YouTube username: Granny Quila.
The fourteen year-old uploaded a video blog in which she spewed obscenities, racial slurs and spoke of ending the Prime Minister’s life. In all honesty, I have not watched the clip because I don’t want my brain polluted by such obnoxious ranting. Granny Quila hastily removed the offensive video only to find that others had already re-posted it with gusto. The backlash was instant and substantial. What she did not expect was that her proudly held views attracted the authorities’ attention and they were moving to make an example of her. Especially during a State of Emergency law enforcement is having none of that.
Nothing about this bacchanal shocks me. I am surprised, not shocked that she felt secure enough to put her face on the internet. Our country is small enough that such attention-seekers will get it, even if they suddenly realise that it was a really, really bad idea. Frankly, I’ve seen Granny Quila’s my whole life. Since primary school, children were clearly copying the blind hatred and idiocy of adults around them. Nobody is born bigoted. We are taught to hate by our parents.
My pale skin, academic achievements and nearby large home made my primary school experience a mostly miserable one. I can count on one hand, how many friends I ever had. Everybody else either ignored or bullied me until it became clear that I could give as well as take. Once in Standard One during recess a classmate lambasted me because her father was having difficulty providing for their family. She said that my “kind of people” were the cause of her family’s suffering. Her rage made no sense to me. I tried to explain that my father was nobody’s boss and he had a boss himself. Life was comfortable for me only because my parents worked hard, saved as much as they could and invested wisely. She did not want to make peace. She wanted to vent and I was a non-retaliatory target. My tears of confusion and empathy were mistaken for weakness but made her happy. By Standard Two I was done with crying and learned how to cope with my tormentors. This little girl’s mission was to study hard, pass Common Entrance for a good secondary school and never let a Granny Quila make me cry again.
In secondary school race, poverty, class, privilege and political dramas occasionally boiled up. However, I won’t discuss those because almost the entire graduating class is on my Facebook friends list. High school is the place for screwing up and offending people. We didn’t have YouTube in our day and hopefully would have had enough good sense to make positive video blogs if we did. Now we’re all grown up and some who used to be just like Granny Quila have gotten over themselves as well as their parents’ issues. Some of them have even married outside their race and are blissfully ‘douglarizing’ the nation.
Granny Quila should be back to school now. She will undoubtedly have to face the ire of fellow students offended by the video and not believing a word of her apology video. Some outraged folks in discussion threads warned that she jeopardized her future because there is no employer that would have her. Possibly true but she may not be recognisable in the next five years. More to the point, who will even remember her by then? Recall Danah Alleyne, the last Trinbagonian teenager to gain instant infamy via the internet. Granted, Miss Alleyne did not expect a singer/rapper/whatever to give her the ragdoll treatment all over the Zen nightclub’s stage or that it would go be a global sensation. I received the video in an email before her identity was uncovered. It was horrible that any woman would allow herself to be treated in such a distasteful manner. Perhaps that is why she was sought out in the first place. Then the world found out that she was only fourteen years-old which seems to be the golden age for girls in Trinidad & Tobago to embarrass the country.
Redirecting to the YouTube menace of August 2011, let’s not kid ourselves here. Granny Quila is not an exception to the rule. It is unfortunately the other way around. For as long as tribal politics control the fate of our nation, Granny Quila is not merely a racist, potty-mouthed Trinbagonian. She is the racist, potty-mouthed future of our nation. Feel free to Google her and watch the video if you’d like. Take a good long look at the attitude, the hatefulness, the utter lack of decorum and intelligence. If any of us adults have ever spoken like that around a child, then Granny Quila is merely a reflection of that. We made her. We are her. She is the fruit born from the seed of discord planted the moment race equalled politics in Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago: where every creed and every race are supposed to find an equal place.