In order to understand this, a historical perspective is key.
Not only Trinidadians, but many societies who have been through colonization, are still joyfully within it in their minds. There is nothing as effective as the enslaved who do not know that they are still proudly acting as slaves. You get the same bang for the buck, without spending the buck.
With colonization came catholicism/christianity, for one, and in Trinidad - until the first steel orchestra played in a church, black people - from the same pool who created the instrument, took the church's, and the colonial establishment's original lead of demonizing the instrument, and those who created and played it. So - some people of that generation back in the forties, and later, are still alive today, and still stigmatize the instrument. Society is made up of a mix of them, and those who have come after, and adopted the same mindset. I know of people in Trinidad in some cases who still do not dare tell their "bosses" that they "play pan." They know the probable cost, disparaging, and even possible victimization that comes with it.
Tell them about "conventional" - (from those who originated their slavery) piano, general instruments, and more, and classical orchestras, and they are proud to have their children play with and in these. But woe for some who take up and adore the steelpan instrument. And it is not only Trinidad. Up and down the islands, there is still disinterest, and basic stigmatization of what is not only a Trinidad and Tobago national instrument, but one that is synonymous with the Caribbean.
Thankfully, there are many people with common sense, and have proudly decided to play pan - society be damned, Trinidad and Tobago included. Big UP!
But I tell you what: if the queen of england were suddenly to commission a british steel orchestra of a hundred or so players, and it begins to tour, and becomes the "toast of tinseltown" so to speak, sparking a worldwide interest of all the so-called "developed" basically white-ruled european and westernized countries to follow suit - so there is a world wide explosion of featured and/or touring one-hundred player orchestras (featuring mainly people of a "lighter color" of course) but now predicated by the former colonizers and slave owners - that will make it RIGHT. All of a sudden, you could check with your former landlady a couple years later - and see what she says then.
after reading this not only will i say it is an amazing assessment of the past, but a piece that should be shared around the world to hear. it is a very deep synopsis and with most of it i agree.
The last paragraph though i feel must be taken up on.
when pan first travelled the world it wasn't with people of light color, but of ordinary extremely talented mainly dark skin men. the world has taken to pan with an almost holy grail type passion. This must not be forgotten.
i think sometimes we forget how big pan really is around the world. How respected it is. OK pan hasn't many multi millionaires, but that doesn't mean it hasn't changed the lives of thousands of people worldwide.
The fact that there is a stigma is because there was so-called Pan wars, and the bad john image of the past, but that isn't true today. people are ignorant because they are, there is no real reason to put on it. Others talk for the sake of it, but deep down trinidadians are very proud of pan......