The sickeningly racist Guyana Chronicle editorial has been thankfully, if not resoundingly, condemned. There has been some response but a half-hearted apology and talk of resignation notwithstanding, this bold declaration by the Chronicle, must open the nation’s eyes to the gravity of the racism cancer being perpetuated in our midst. And it is being cultivated by those who benefit from it.
So well have they thought it has flourished that they have now become emboldened to formalize it in a written declaration to the nation. Our sensitivities have been repulsed by the printed words but these words are the manifestation of the conviction of swathes of Guyanese who have been so indoctrinated through bottom-house engagements.
These are not, we must not be led to accept, the isolated rantings of a lone crusader. To quote Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley, “this is real”. We will recall the “bottom of the social ladder” comment, the marginalization, the discrimination and the now token acceptance that Afro-Guyanese are second, even third class citizens in their own country.
A few weeks ago, my wife, who is Afro-Guyanese, joined me in Antigua. I complained to her that I was unhappy living here, and that I’d prefer to move back to Guyana. My wife, who enjoys her many travels but is as fond of Guyana as I am, appreciated how I felt about wanting to be home. She was compelled, though, to underscore reality.
Guyana is a country sharply characterised, as a dysfunctional society of greedy, self-serving politicians, open corruption, accepted injustice, institutional racism, ethnic discrimination, national insecurity and uncontrollable crime. Guyana is a nation of warts and depression – a society in full decay, sunken.
My reasoning to her was that I desire being in Guyana to help change it for the better, not escape it and hope for and look to others to so do. Then she made an observation, biting as it was poignant. I was left anguished and ashamed for my country.
She likes Antigua because “it’s ok to be black here”.
I believe that I have always been acutely aware of the challenges of the Afro-Guyanese man and woman in Guyana, never before though, had it been framed with such distressing and intense profundity in my mind.
Those who wish to know are not in doubt that Afro-Guyanese, under this government, have been systematically marginalised and discriminated against. Reference the historic King Kong case for your evidence. There is now a growing sense that there is an intensification of the racial onslaught and that the infancy of an outright attack is being engineered to be waged against our Afro-Guyanese brothers and sisters to incite them.
The people of Linden live the inequality. Afro-Guyanese, young men in particular, suffer silently, daily, from it – their opportunities being far fewer, if existent; their rewards lesser, if available. They are devalued, dehumanised and criminalized. And now the authorities have become so brazen that they throw it in the face of the nation in editorial.
It matters not how many of our Afro-Guyanese brothers and sisters are accomplished, exemplary citizens. Those who are tasked by the administration to shape the Indo-Guyanese thinking are stressing that Afro-Guyanese – as a group – must always be seen as thieves, criminals, murderers and never to be trusted. And if an Indo-Guyanese sees an Afro-Guyanese who does not fit these descriptions, then that Afro-Guyanese must be considered an anomaly, an exemption.
The observation of independent minded former magistrate in Guyana Yohhanseh Cave, who now lives and works in the British Virgin Islands strikes at the heart of the persecutors.“This (the Guyana Chronicle editorial) is just another reason why so many Afro-Guyanese feel disrespected, delegitimised and marginalised in the country of our birth.”
On the one hand Indo-Guyanese are being conditioned to believe that Afro-Guyanese are of no social value and worthy of nothing good. On the other there is a campaign to debase and psychologically repress Afro-Guyanese into third class citizenry and for which they must show content, not contempt.
Both are equally revolting in conception and practice.
Consider the following:
1. Until recently adjusted none of Guyana’s ambassadors were Afro-Guyanese.
2. Until recently none of the heads of state agencies were Afro-Guyanese.
3. The Berbice Bridge was deliberately located away from New Amsterdam, an area where Afro-Guyanese live. It has been argued that this being to purposefully spite the Afro-Guyanese community, disallowing them from being economic benefactors of this investment.
4. Afro-Guyanese are allocated lots mostly in the decidedly low-income housing schemes such as Parfait Harmonie on the West Bank of Demerara (and far removed from their places of employment).
5. Almost all of the more desirable lots in the Tuschen Housing Scheme were “allocated” to and are occupied by Indo-Guyanese. Afro-Guyanese have been “allocated” and occupy less desirable lots towards the back and long distances away from the transportation system, schools and other facilities.
With regard to house lot allocation, what is at play, in terms of political strategy, ought not escape us. Afro-Guyanese are being moved from their traditional areas such as Georgetown to Region 3 (Parfait Harmonie and Tuschen) which will allow for the opposition strength at the ballot box to be diluted in Region 4. In Region 3, the PPP has traditionally been overwhelmingly strong so the region is able to absorb the increased opposition votes without losing control of the region. The reverse is true with the “allocation” of house lots to Indo-Guyanese in areas such as Diamond. Most of these Indo-Guyanese are not originally from Region 4 so thus they come in and the thinking is that they will bolster the PPP vote in that region. This emphasizes and crystallizes why it is necessary for the authorities to perpetuate race based voting.
6. The obsessive control of radio, which in the year 2012, remains in state monopoly.
7. The refusal to allow Lindeners access to privately owned television stations.
8. The national athletics track is being built at Leonora, a mostly Indo-Guyanese community which is not known to produce track and field athletes and far removed from the communities on the West Demerara and Guyana which are known to produce track and field athletes.
9. The Skeldon Sugar Factory – the largest single investment in Guyana’s history – is allotted to an industry which is in global ruin and in an almost purely Indo-Guyanese community for the protection of Indo-Guyanese jobs while the bauxite industry (where there is a greater Afro-Guyanese presence) is disowned and left to flounder by government.
10. The Guyana National Stadium is located in an area surrounded mostly by Indo-Guyanese and for cricket (a sport dominated by Indo-Guyanese) while there is negligible investment in football (which is dominated by Afro-Guyanese) and no national football stadium.
The examples abound and are available in every form.One political commentator recently raised the issue of the ethnic representation in print advertisements. I have long noted the increasing ethnic disparity, now heavily skewed in favour of Indo-Guyanese and Caucasians in advertisements. This is a certain sign of a cultural acceptance of the superior positioning of Indo-Guyanese and the secondary assignment to Afro-Guyanese and Amerido-Guyanese as well.
In denial we may have been, the truth is now unavoidable. Guyana has become a country in which one is privileged to be Indo-Guyanese and cursed to Afro-Guyanese. It is not just not ok to be black in Guyana, it is a condemnation to a life of less.
Those responsible for this state of depravity must be removed from authority for they have shamed and disgraced a proud nation by systematically committing a people to social, political and economic slavery.
“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.” – Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara