Are African people ugly? Freddie on Friday
Kaieteur News
June 18, 2004

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I had no idea that my reference to what the owner of a television station (not CN Sharma) had to say about me and how ugly I am because I am mixed with the African race would have caused people to take offence at him so long after he said those racist remarks.

There are some important lessons to be learnt from this drama, and I do believe all of us in this country need to pay some attention to them because they will make us wiser. Lesson number one - The historical indoctrination of stereotyping African people as ugly has persisted over the centuries and has lodged deep within the psyche of the descendants of the European race in the former colonies after independence was granted.

The biggest manifestation of stereotyping Africans as dark-skinned and ugly was in the denial of African women as beauty queens

Four intervening social forces of immense power and with tremendous implications for epistemological reasoning in the understanding of culture and freedom appeared in the 20th Century and went a far way in breaking down ideologies that stereotyped Africans as ugly people.

One was the domination of the music industry by Black artistes in America. An elaboration of this analysis will be too long to undertake here but it was Black perfection of Jazz, rock and roll and other musical forms that paved the way for the civil rights movement.

The second factor was the violent rise in the anti-colonial movement and the assertion of the non-White people to the right to self-determination.

Thirdly, anti-colonial anger came into existence simultaneously with the rise of the age of counter-culture in the sixties, better known as the hippie age. This was a golden moment for multi-racial cultural praxis.

The aesthetic symbol of the counter-culture movement was the phenomenal talent of Black rock guitarist, Jimmy Hendriks.

Fourthly, preceding the hippie age was the civil rights movement with one of its off-shoots being the Black Power Movement.

The cultural and anthropological denial of African people by a racist world and a Eurocentric epistemology was now coming to an end. The anti-apartheid struggle, the embrace of the causes of the people of the Third World by Soviet communism, the rise of the Non-Aligned Movement and the phenomenal success of Black athletes and entertainers in the United States had, by the end of the seventies, eroded the cultural ideology used to explain the racial inferiority of the African race.

Today, many of the world’s most respected and admired human beings are from the African race.

But if social movements change and the zeitgeist is of a philosophy more humane, it does mean that psychic clarification is a corollary. Psychic racism is almost impossible to eradicate. The seminal explanation of this is the philosophical work of West Indian intellectual, Franz Fanon.

There is no space here to define his work but what the reader needs to know is that when that owner of the television station in his commentary said that I was ugly because I have the African race in me, he was manifesting psychic racism.

No better example of psychic racism will suffice than that of the infamous White Canadian jazz disc jockey. His display of psychic racism made the headlines the world over. He ran a jazz programme for several years. Jazz music is Black people music. He knew Black music and made a living off of it. Then on one of his shows in August one year, he left his microphone on accidentally, and was heard telling his friend who invited him to lunch that it would be impossible to get out because “a million niggers are out there dancing in the streets.”

He was referring to the West Indian street festival of Caribana. He was sacked and the shock was so great for him that months later, he died of a heart attack

Lesson number two - Television will never replace newspapers. The commentary this television owner gave on me was done since last year. It would appear that a lot of people didn’t see it. Newspapers are always available and they are on the Internet too, but if you miss a TV programme one evening, then that’s it – you missed it.

People only learnt of his racist outburst after I quoted what he said of me and that is I am ugly because I am mixed with Black blood. What this television station owner did was to make the same mistake like the disc jockey; he blurted it out. But now the entire country knows because of newspapers.

In fact, the people at the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting didn’t know about the racist remark on the commentary until I wrote about it. It shows the enduring power of the print media.

Lesson number three - This entire episode shows the pivotal role the United States embassy can play in bringing about a civilized political culture here. I referred to this racist commentary after the US Embassy initiated a no-nonsense policy of visa revocation for Guyanese citizens who violate international norms of civilized and legal behaviour.

In my article, I suggested that the US embassy should listen to this man’s racist vulgarity. Fearing that the US embassy might do just that, the erratic, eccentric broadcaster is not as odd and imbalanced as we thought after all. You know the saying – “every madman has his own sense.” The guy erased the part of his commentary where he mentioned that Africans were ugly and changed that part in the same commentary that is on his web site. He was simply afraid that the US embassy might ask for the tape.

I close with the exact words from the original tape on his newscast and which was on his web page. “When an Indian ugly, he ugly fuh so. But Freddie is the ugliest Indian because he got Black blood in him.”

Then in another part of his commentary, he said, “Some Indian people are very good-looking, they win beauty contests but this Freddie Kissoon is really ugly, this dark-skinned madman got to be mixed with African genes.”

Well, there you have it. A psychic racist blurted out his Freudian feelings. As for me, I can’t even bring myself to mention this guy’s name. It is for the African people of this country to decide what they will do. But then again, will they do anything?