Stereotyping based on one conversation

Stabroek News

December 4, 2003

Related Links: Letters on 'Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana' death
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Dear Editor,

In her book Dr. Gibson complains about the negative stereotyping of Africans by Indians. But then she concludes Chapter 3 by negatively stereotyping Indians: "East Indians justify corruption by dividing the practice into "good thiefing" and "bad thiefing." "Good thiefing" is done by East Indians … "Bad thiefing" is done by Africans."

Her basis for this stereotype is a conversation with a solitary Hindu acquaintance. She makes no distinction between individual Indians, Hindus, Muslims and Chris-tian Indians. She lumps them into a single monolithic bloc and stereotypes them as condoning corruption. She complains about Indians demonizing Africans; but parts of her book, as in the above stereotype and in Chapter 4, demonize Indians as killers of Africans. She even has a shocking stereotypical anti-Muslim sentiment hidden among the Notes: "Money is the route to God for Muslims" (note 28, p. 84). Dr. Gibson ought to have known that you cannot use a single point to plot a graph and derive an equation and a law thereof.

Dr. Gibson castigates GIFT for soliciting questionable and unverified claims of assaults on Indians during riots on 12th January, 1998 (p. 58), failing to notice that many of her references are likewise questionable and unverified. In March 2000 I carried out an ethnic relations random survey of thirty UG students comprising fifteen Indians (eight males and seven females), fourteen Africans (seven males and seven females) and one Asian female. Three Indians stated that they were harassed mol-ested or beaten in the aftermath of the December 1997 elections and on 12th January, 1998. Three Africans complained of having to endure discrimination in Government offices, jobs, employment, interviews, land distribution and other opportunities. (There were other very vague claims of harassment and discrimination by both groups. Note that it would be unwise to extrapolate from such a small sample.) Instead of criticizing GIFT and trying to deny 12th January, 1998, Dr. Gibson should have done some slogging fieldwork to find out what really happened on that fateful day.

Yours faithfully,

M. Hackett