Freddie Kissoon's review of Dr. Gibson's book is scholarly
October 25, 2003
Mr. Freddie Kissoon's review of Keane Gibson's controversial book A Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana is indeed scholarly, objective, and erudite; the same cannot be said of Dr. Gibson's work.
The review is scholarly because he examines the book in a comportment a scholar is supposed to. Statements are pedantic, profound and sagacious, and not merely penned for the sake of it; they are supported with credible rationale as possible by a social scientist, in a given situation. It is objective because the issue is observed from an unbiased point of view; conclusions are not based merely on impressions from variable factors related to the question. And it is erudite because the protagonist is not left isolation; opinions are expressed as to how the issues discussed relate to the ethnic situation at large.
Mr. Kissoon has not leveled personal attacks on Dr. Gibson. The criticisms are nothing compared to the barrage of fire set on V.S. Naipaul, about two years ago. And Mr. Naipaul is a brilliant intellectual whose scholarship par excellence; (I say this even though I am not a fan of Mr. Naipaul).
There are lots of garbage that are shown in the media in Guyana, especially on television, which, unfortunately, Guyanese have become accustomed to. But the reason why this refuse has created a furor is not because it is very stink. It is because the designer of the garbage ought to know better than disgorge rubbish. The more enlightened has a greater tolerance of the Keith R. Williamses than for the Keane Gibson's, as the latter has a "doctor" appended to her name. (The Guyanese people, for example, would forgive a young schoolboy who does not know how to hold a bat properly. They would never forgive Sarwan, however, for being so ignorant. He should know better!). We need to listen to people like Mr. Williams and appreciate the hurts (perceived or real) that our fellow Guyanese suffer.
Mr. Williams' Stabroek News letter, "The debate on the ethnic situation is lopsided", however, is ironic, and almost comical. Mr. Williams started his letter by telling us that, "what Guyana needs now more than ever are words that offer healing rather than those which strengthen the wall of separation between groups". Yet Mr. Williams proceeded to paint a picture of one side being saddled, stomped and shackled by the other side. Is this your idea of healing and cementing the schism, Mr. Williams? Is that what your religion teaches you?
I am truly saddened that some Indians, as Mr. Williams mentioned, refer to Afro-Guyanese as "black dogs". I am just as saddened and hurt when Indians are called similar names.
Mr. Williams considers himself "informed of speaking on the experiences of Afro Guyanese in terms of prejudices they live through out their lives because of their colour". This is rather baffling as many Indians in Guyana, for example, are much darker than some of their African counterparts.
But Mr. Williams is right in saying that we need words of healing, more than ever, at this time. And so I am thankful to the Eusi Kwayanas, the David Hinds and the Freddie Kissoons who are courageous not only to defend truth, but also to speak against injustice even if it means castigating those of their 'own' group.
The ire raised against Dr. Gibson is not because she is a black woman who speaks her mind, as Mr. Williams would have us believe. She apparently received a doctorate from a distinguished university, and is a Professor at the University of the West Indies. She therefore has a moral responsibility, if not to her detractors, then to her supporters, to refute charges that her latest work lacked scholarship, objectivity and intellectual credibility. (I had listened for a few minutes on Channel 9, a few months ago, when a "linguist" was telling the host of a program how certain words the government uses are meant to put down black people. The statement from the linguist lacked salt and substance, and I quickly switched to another station. Poor me!). In my opinion, Dr. Gibson's book should be destined for the annals of race-hate/junk.
Stabroek News should request Dr. Gibson for a response to the charges. And when Dr. Gibson responds, she can tell us if the Indian Christians and Muslims are not as nefarious as their Hindu counterparts; (the Christians and Muslims comprise approximately one-third of the Indian population in Guyana!). As a matter of fact, it would be virtuous to know if the Christians in Guyana are more loving than those Hindus!
Yes, Mr. Williams, we need love-mongers around. We've had enough of the hate-mongers who peddle and ply their trade in media houses. Dr. Gibson might just convince us that she is not a race-hate monger!
Grace and peace.