Khafra Kambon, Director of Regional & Pan-African Affairs at the Emancipation Support Committee (ESCTT).

The Director of Regional & Pan-African Affairs at the Emancipation Support Committee (ESCTT), Khafra Kambon, says the medical doctor who was caught abusing his staff in a viral social media video, must be decertified as a medical professional.

In a news release issued today, the ESCTT chief spokesman says, in light of his hate-filled diatribe, there is no other recourse but decertification, given that this is a medical professional with responsibility for caring for members of the public, of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

Mr Kambon expressed concern that there has been an increase in this sort of behaviour from many persons since the August 10 General Election, and he is calling on the authorities to tackle the problem at the foundation—by employing a systemic and multi-layered approach to improve race relations in this country.

The full text of the ESCTT statement, follows…

Racism and Medicine – A Toxic  Mix: Decertify the Ranting Doctor

The  Emancipation  Support  Committee  of  Trinidad  and  Tobago  is  looking  forward  to  the  decertification  of  the medical doctor at a private clinic in San Fernando whose abusive behaviour, anti-African racist language, and racist sentiments  have  been  strongly  condemned  by  citizens  and  organizations  throughout  Trinidad  and  Tobago. 

His behaviour  and  sentiments  would  be  abhorrent  under  any  circumstances,  but  given  his  profession  and  the  faith which  people  who  need  medical  care  would  put  in  him,  such  racist  convictions  become  dangerous. 

In  his  rant against  Africans  generally,  which  was  recorded,  he  insulted  two  groups  of  local  professionals  specifically:  nurses, making it clear that Africans must not be hired as nurses in his clinic; and police officers, whom he called “dunce”, a charge which in the context of his statement seemed to be an extension of the racial slur.

Inaction  or  delayed  action  at  this  time  is  not  an  option  since  urgent  action  from  the  responsible  authorities  is necessary, both to protect the public from the potential dangers to persons  who may unknowingly place their trust in this  doctor  (who  remains  unnamed  in  the  formal  media)  or  otherwise  find  themselves  in  his  care  through circumstances beyond their control.

In  this  regard,  we  applaud  the  quick  action  of  Minister  Deyalsingh  to  refer  the  matter  to  the  Medical  Board.  The public  is  looking  forward  to  the revocation  of  this  doctor’s  licence.  There  should be  no  place  for someone  filled  with such hate and  bias to practice his profession on  people of any ethnicity.

Our  concern  about  the reported outburst goes beyond the individual however. This is not the first such incident of a racist  rant  in  the  public  domain  that  the  country  has  experienced    within  the  last  few  months.  The  post-election period  produced  some  of  the  most  inflammatory  outbursts  on  social  media,  the  most  venomous  and  degrading  of which  were  aimed  at  Africans.   

The  sentiments  expressed  in  such  outbursts    are  not  new.  They  are  getting  much broader  exposure  due  to  the    nature  of  the  social  media  that  is  widely  available.  Our  society  cannot  continue moving  towards  that  precipice,  more  dangerous  in  a  time  when  COVID  and  increasing    economic  challenges  are pushing us to the edge.

The  doctor’s  outburst    reinforces  what  everyone  in  the  society  is  aware  of,  but    which  has  not  been  addressed  with the  urgency  which  it  requires.  We  live  in  a  society  where  ethnic  groups  are  influenced  by  deeply  rooted  negative stereotypes  about  each  other.  Prejudices  about  race  and  colour  are  substantially  informed  by  the  historical experiences  of  slavery  and  indentureship.  These  oppressive  experiences  are  re-enforced  by  mis-education,  mass media,  mythologies,  religious  beliefs,  prejudices  and  artistic  representations  of  divinity  which  degrade  or  diminish the  Black  complexion.  Up  to  the  present,  the  information  which  could  correct  historical  distortions  is  missing, particularly at the foundational stages of formal education. Our mass media is also lacking in that regard.

While  we  utterly  condemn  the  statements  and  actions  of  the  doctor  and  expect  the  appropriate  punishment therefore,  the  ESCTT,  recognizing  the  depth  of  the  challenges  calls  on  those  in  authority  to  tackle  the  overarching problem.  There  has  to  be  a  systematic,  multilayered  approach  to  overcoming  the  cultural  prejudices  and  racism that  are  eating  away  at  the  society. 

Our  organization  possesses  internal  skills  and  the  capacity  to  mobilize necessary  human  resources  to  address  the  challenges  at  multiple  levels  and  assist  relevant  institutions  in  this regard.

We would welcome discussions with the Medical Board to discuss ways in which their members can benefit from racial sensitivity training to increase their cultural competency.

Khafra Kambon
Director, Regional & Pan-African Affairs