Africans are seen through the prism of the culture responsible for their enslavement
October 11, 2003
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I have not yet read Doctor Gibson’s book on the racial situation in Guyana, but I am diligently pursuing getting a copy in order to win a prima facie understanding of the antipathy she has aroused in the breasts of so many. The tone in the criticism of her work and scholarship is eerily reminiscent of the response by southern segregationists to African Americans who jettison euphemisms and diplomacy when describing the inequalities in their nation. When people become intolerant of the message from the other side they are wont to go after the messenger. The very personal nature of the attacks on Doctor Gibson’s ideas suggest a kinship of nefarious intent to stifle speech emanating from some quarters in the Guyanese community.
Look, it doesn’t matter where people of African descent live, or whom they are among, they will always face a measure of discrimination because of their race. Let’s take no prisoners here. The information of the world’s history is structured to create a negative perception of “blackness”. It was and remains the rationale for slavery and the oppression of Africans, and the parasitical coveting of the resources in their natural environment. The non-white peoples of the world perceive Africans through the prisms of the culture responsible for their enslavement and oppression. How else could someone conclude that it was not racially insensitive to replace the statue of the Queen who presided over the genocide of millions of Africans in front of the very place they have to go to win justice. Give me a break.
The facts of the relationship and interaction between Africans and non Africans in Guyana and the outside world do not in any way absolve people of African descent of wrong doing or irresponsibility for their plight. It does not and should not excuse or justify attitudes and behaviours towards others that are no less heinous and intolerant and hurtful. Guyanese are products of an environment of racial politics going back decades. Neither of the two major political factions and their distinguishable ethnic supporters have any claim to the moral and ethical high ground in this state of affairs. Our politics and relationship are fashioned by a “awe pon top” syndrome and that is just the way it is. Banning a book or seeking to tarnish the message by ostracizing the messenger will no doubt find favour with many who live only for this kind of inverse proportional group gratification. For me and many other like minded individuals who long for an end to this racial (expletive withheld), it appears to be a case of “Methinks thou dost protest too much”.
Keith R Williams