Sad time To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
May 30, 2002

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IT is a sad time for Guyanese of African descent. Their ethnic emotions are being pulled asunder by ugly appeals for ‘ethnic loyalty’ as opposed to common decency, rule of law and their better judgement. Now, they are unwittingly, being conscripted by unscrupulous politicians to give political cover to extremely dangerous criminals whose destabilising actions are helping to perpetuate the ‘ungovernable’ environment, which the opposition politicians desire in their challenge to the government.

Assisting the politicians are the many ‘attitudes, perceptions,’ and blinkered views that previal amongst many in the Afro-Guyanese community. These predominantly negative views invariably hinder progress of the community at large.

One such blinkered view was that expounded recently by our popular and talented local artiste and radio personality Rudy Grant whose brother Eddie has brought pride to all Guyanese, regardless of ethnicity, with his international exploits.

In a letter in the newspapers our dear Rudy complains about a Cable and Wireless cricket advertisement that portrays a young black thief snatching a woman’s handbag. The thief is later disabled by a West Indian cricketer and arrested by a policeman. Rudy feels that this advertisement gives a negative image of black youth and should not be shown.

Get real, Rudy! In what world are you living? Firstly, the fact is that in the West Indies, with its predominantly African descended population, it is a pretty good bet that the criminal element will reflect this and be predominantly of African descent. A bag snatcher of any ethnicity, anywhere in the world, is also likely to be young. But that is not the point. What Rudy really does not see at all is that:

the victim (yes the REAL victim, Rudy) is of African descent and also somebody’s mother no doubt. The fact is that from North America right down through the Caribbean to Guyana, the victims of black criminals are predominantly black people and very often women; that the arresting officer and upholder of the law is of African descent; and this is the most striking, the West Indian cricketer is of African descent.

Thankfully, for society this type of citizen of all ethnic backgrounds is still in the majority.

Instead of focusing on the upright female citizen peacefully going about her business, the police officer doing his constitutional duty and socially important job and the young cricketer who has achieved the pinnacle of his sport in the international community and takes an interest in protecting his fellow citizens, Rudy blindly takes the side of the anti-social fellow. The focus on him should surely be rehabilitated so that he can take his place alongside the others as a socially useful citizen.

Ironically, the same rewarding of negative actions of black people (as in the Oscars given to Denzel Washington and Halley Berry for their portrayal of not so upright characters) that Rudy complains about later in his letter is exactly the image that he naively rewards by his protest. One only needs to look at the ‘freedom fighter’ labels and ethnic support that are being given dastardly criminals in Guyana to realise where this blinkered view takes us.

Sure, society all over the world does need revolutionary change to eliminate the conditions that help to create criminality. But we will not do so by burying our heads in the mud and falling prey to a ‘racial conception of history.’ It will not happen when the discontented take to criminal activity and are eulogized to the detriment of law-abiding citizens. It will only happen when all citizens work assiduously together to implement it.
Johan Gonsalves.