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XIV) Cultural Identity

It is not only through the Carnival that a Trinidadian aesthetic was being expressed. Cultural organizations strove to articulate and develop a Trinidadian literary, poetic, and artistic movement based on their historical and social experience. Young writers and intellectuals like Albert Gomes, Alfred Mendes, R.A.C. de Boissiere and C.L.R. James published journals and magazines dealing with political and artistic issues of relevance to Trinidad. They also published short stories, poems, and articles which depicted the lives of the laboring classes in Trinidad and sought to capture their ways of speech, values, beliefs, hopes and dreams. As part of an effort to educate the public politically they also explored the relevance of the Russian revolution and socialism for West Indians and promoted West Indian identity by praising local cultural forms and criticizing local African creoles for their self-loathing and denigration of African cultural forms.

These young intellectuals were also concerned with Indo-Trinidadian issues and the nationalist struggle in India. Anti-Catholic, anti-colonialist and hostile to government, they protested the persecution of Shouter Baptists, called for unemployment insurance, better working conditions, and improved public housing (Brereton 1981:176). Their journal, The Beacon, which appeared every month between 1931 and 1933, constituted the center of a movement of enlightenment spearheaded by Trinidad's angry young men of the Thirties. It was the torpor, the smugness and the hypocrisy of the Trinidad of the period that provoked the response which produced both the magazine and the defiant bohemianism of the movement that was built around it (Albert Gomes in Brereton 1981:175).

Financial problems, police harassment, advertising boycotts, and the migration of significant contributors James and Mendes contributed to the magazine's closing in 1933. The movement contributed to the development of a socially aware literary and intellectual group who spearheaded the cultural nationalism of the post-war era.

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