One of the challenges we have in Guyanese politics is that while everybody knows voting is driven by “race”, there’s still a significant number of folks who don’t think we should talk about it in the public sphere. Your Eyewitness would give these presumably well-minded people the benefit of the doubt that they’re not just sticking their heads in their posterior aperture. They seem to believe if you talk about race, it’ll “inflame” passions and matters may get out of hand – especially during the combustible elections period.
Now there’s no question this is one possibility – but will a curfew on race change anything? Or will it simply drive it to under the “bottom houses” or its modern equivalent – social media – where it has always created the most toxic results? Your Eyewitness believes that to try to stop a discussion based on the lived reality of people is doomed to fail. And race – or ethnicity, if you will – IS the lived reality of all Guyanese. You may try to “rise” above the categorisation, but others will treat you based on their perception of you, which is more often than not racial/ethnic – and force you to react. We cannot escape the sociological fact that our “identity” is defined by those around us. As Cornell West reminded us since 1993, Race Matters!
The way to go about addressing our discursive dilemma on race is not to silence it, but to allow reasoned discussion about the issue and its effects in the public space so that the “other” can try to appreciate your reality. Also, as the ERC has done, we can all call upon the political leaders to denounce race-baiting in whatever shape or form. Right now, with the campaign only two weeks old we are witnessing the bottom-house/social media toxic exchanges, but thankfully, also a more positive public discussion from leaders and opinion shapers.
From the PNC platform a week ago, Joseph Harmon, the heir presumptive in the PNC set-up, dismissed the PPP’s selection of Brigadier (Rt’d) Mark Phillips as its PM candidate as “Black Tokenism”. But this week at the PPP’s Albion Rally, Phillips shot back: “Harmon, if we are to follow his reasoning, he is telling you that all non-Africans on the (Govt) coalition are mere tokenism and we don’t believe that. We believe everybody has a right to support which party they want to support”!!
Now this discussion goes to the heart of the dilemma of politics in Guyana: how can the two major parties, which are both ethnic based – convince the “other” that they are truly represented?
With no ethnic group constituting a majority, Guyana’s fate hangs on the answer!!
…appraisal of Chinese
Sunday was “Chinese Arrival Day”. As one of our “six peoples”, the Chinese – like all the others – have made significant contributions to this nation. And it’s high time this is recognised by one and all. Back in the day when Burnham’s dictatorship was in full swing, he mandated that all organisations bearing ethnic labels were to get rid of them. The East Indian Cricket Club became “Everest Cricket Club” and the “Chinese Sports Club”, “Cosmos Sports Club”.
But it seems it’s now OK to be Chinese publicly again. But the question being raised around the country is “which Chinese?” There is the distinction being made between “our” Chinese – descended from the 13,541 souls who arrived between 1853 and 1879, and the “new” Chinese who’ve flooded our shores with the rise of China as a major world power. Some say that these new Chinese immigrants are a strategic fifth column encouraged by the Chinese Government to supplement their economic investment and expansion across the globe.
Should we worry?
…appraisal of ERC
While it’s good the ERC has called upon leaders to eschew divisive rhetoric, shouldn’t they be taking a more pro-active stance against the violence that’s been committed against PPP activists and their flags?
How long will they be taking the false equivalence cop-out??