Trinis Boycott? A Case of All Talk and No Action
I want to start this one off by stating that I do not hate Trinbagonians. In fact, I love my people and I love my country. The reason why I’m stating this is because people have asked me if I am a Trini hater, after reading some of my criticism of our people in my past Outlish articles. Alas, I am about to repeat this pattern, shedding light on some current affairs that actually doesn’t involve the Government (go figure).
As most of you reading this article would know, there was recently a very controversial series of incidents around the ever-so-popular MovieTowne complex. Let me recap the reported. In a nutshell, a couple were allegedly victims of a failed robbery, yet successful brutal attack, in the car park.While being accosted by three men in their car, the husband was reportedly hit in the head with a metal object, causing him to get several injuries, including a gash to the head that required stiches. To make matters worse, the security at MovieTowne was said to have done nothing to prevent it (albeit the guard booth being a stone’s throw away from the incident), and reportedly informed the couple and their family that the security cameras were not functioning, that things like this happen all the time, which they could not prevent.
Finally, to add insult to injury (quite literally), Mr Chin allegedly told the couple – privately – that they “either live here (in Trinidad) and build a wall around you, or migrate to Switzerland”, before making a statement in an interview questioning the validity of the attack and sarcastically asking if the wife was a “gun expert”, after she vividly described the firearm that was used in the attack.
These comments led to a massive plea to boycott MovieTowne, complete with Facebook pages and an event, with an army of Trinidadian warriors emerging, attempting to bring justice to the family.For years, I’ve said that Trinis are all ‘hard talk’ and little or no follow through. The recent call for a boycott is yet another example of this, which leads me to ask – when will we, as a people, stop talking and start acting?
Some people have promised to make a full-out attack on the bank accounts of Mr Chin and boycott going to MovieTowne (from at least June 24, 2011 to July 31, 2011). Bravely joining the battle were a few of my friends, whom I saw had RSVP’don Facebook that they were attending the event, while I was too cowardly to join. So cowardly was I, that I actually saw two movies in two days – one on Sunday, June 26, and the other on Monday, June 27. If it’s one thing I can say positively about my open fear, it’s that it led me to see that maybe some of our newly converted activists aren’t activistsafter all, since on not one, but both days, I saw friends who were claiming to boycott the institution at the cinema.
I personally did not boycott because for me, I just wanted to see a movie. Derek Chin and the unfortunate couple do not come to mind when I see Optimus Prime slicing open more cars than a chop shop, although I do not like what he said and I do have a great bit of sadness and empathy for the affected family. However, for the people who did make a Facebook statement about boycotting MovieTowne, what is your reason for talking hard and no follow through? You say that you do not feel safe at the complex. Then why am I able to see you there less than 24 hours after you make this statement? You say that you do not want to put money in the pockets of a man like Derek Chin.Then why are you still paying your hard-earned $45 to see a movie on his property the same day that you have up a status saying,“Fire bun Chin and MovieTowne!”?
I’m sure there are some people who will seriously boycott MovieTowne. However, I’m sure the numbers are too small to cause a dent.
We have to understand that if we want change, we have to sacrifice. It is often a hard, long road that does not always bring immediate success, unlike easily voting in a new government for positive change and expecting change the next day. I know what you’re about to say… “This guy is saying these things, but he’s still going to MovieTowne”. You’re right. But that’s my personal stance.
However, for all of those who go on Facebook liking pages and clicking “I’m attending” for what is supposed to be a serious protest, what I’m saying is that we all know that Trinbagonians are known for their inability to boycott in strong numbers. And as long as business places and politicians know this culture will remain intact, nothing will change. You won’t get better service at KFC or Royal Castle, and you definitely won’t find a business place seeking to seriously address any fears patrons may have, or not even thinking about being arrogant or insensitive in their response.
According to the author of “What Do You Boycott, and Why?” – Mary Moore – the main ingredients to a successful boycott are communication, solidarity and perseverance. It’s also a matter of using your consumer or voting power in an organized manner. Countries that have successfully used boycotts as an effective strategy for change have done so because they’ve been able to mix these ingredients into their psyches.
If you truly feel unsafe at MovieTowne and despise the comments made by Mr Chin, then take yourself to Globe or Trincity Mall, where there are a higher number of reported incidents at the latter venue. Otherwise, you’re only encouraging the issues that you claim to be so against, and, ultimately, will probably never achieve the change or desired effect you so seek.
So Trinis, you have to accept it if you don’t act on your ‘hard talk’, you’re never going to get your desired results. Even if the situation comes up where you know that you’re fighting a losing battle, you can at least walk away with your dignity. Now we can all banter about who is or isn’t going to continue visiting MovieTowne, or say, “Trinis will never change”, but there’s one thing I really want to know. How can we, as a people, find that ideal mix of communication, solidarity and perseverance? What’s it going to take to create the right chemistry that transforms us from ole talkers into agents of positive social change?