The issue is ethnic insecurity

Stabroek News
August 18, 2001

Dear Editor,

The letters responding to the current discussion on a national culture and identity portray clearly the racial split in our country. The names of what would most likely be African Guyanese are on one side and Indian Guyanese on the other. On one side, there seems to be a total misunderstanding, or a pretence to a lack of understanding, of what the discussion is about.

Mr Gavin Francisco's statement in his letter [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] captioned "Fragmentation is not the answer" (l5.8.200l) that we "just want to live peacefully and progressively" sums it up. If he was to read carefully and without blinkers what the discussion on identity and culture is about he will see that it is about how we can gain that peace and progress. Many of his comments have no relevance at all. It is not only India and Pakistan that have internal strife. Europe, Africa, even Australia have problems. What's his point?

I think the various writers have been trying to show why the racial problems in Guyana exist. It has been an educational lesson for me reading the letters and I believe the point of the discussion is to try and find ways of solving these. The critics are suggesting that Guyana has no problem at all. Perhaps, it is because they are not the targets of ethnic rage. It is less than four months ago that Indians were scared for their lives as Guyana experienced another bout of ethnic violence. Has Guyana forgotten already? Indian Guyanese haven't. We want it to stop. And trying to sweep it under the carpet and pretending it never happened is not going to help.

I would like to know what Mr Francisco and other critics of the writers think of the cultural imperialism that Professor Rex Nettleford is proposing. Do they agree or disagree with this? Do they believe that Indians must be absorbed into this Guyaneseness they talk about and Nettleford talks about? Or do they believe there is room for all of us to be who we are?

If there is room for all of us, why do they beat us up because we are Indian? Can they explain this contradiction?

Yours faithfully,
Deo Hardat