I have been reliably informed that Stella Ramsaroop is very upset at the way I have framed my language on her approach to journalism. Yesterday, Stella wrote a column, penned some positive opinions on me, and indicated that she is still offended. I honestly believe Stella is hurt by my direct language structure and I offer an apology.
The apology extended to her is over my style. I will continue to practice honest journalism. Sometimes the runner stumbles. But I have never published maliciously dishonest journalistic fiction.
My language style has always been a problem for me. But it was worsened by the sea of hypocrisy in Guyana in which I was brought up, lived in and still live in. Two persons, thirty years ago, admonished me about getting upset because society will judge you on these outer cortices never on the internal substance.
Those persons I respect immensely. Both are Guyanese heroes – Eusi Kwayana and Clive Thomas.
My life in Guyana has always been a burdened one with class and colour reducing me to its victim. And unfortunately a certain combative approach has become natural. I can’t say I have regrets. As with Stella, I have apologised to many others in the past. But I will not change the substance of my chemistry.
In a long conversation with the Head of the Department of Sociology at UG, Mr. Andrew Hicks, last week, I explained to him (he comes from Albouystown) that when people like us born into working class homes in South Georgetown find ourselves into contact with the middle class world, we have expectations. When we are mistreated there is a feeling of wanting to fight back
I have first hand experience of how cruel discrimination can be based on class and colour. I saw it vividly in the Working People’s Alliance in the seventies. I saw its graphic dimensions at the Stabroek News when I was a columnist there. In Guyana, politics, the media (with the exception of the private Kaieteur News and state-owned Chronicle) and the fine arts have always been dominated by class and colour.
Stabroek News has not forgiven me for my vocal responses to my mistreatment. But I defended my dignity and refused to accept that I was a dark-skinned nobody who must accept to be patronized.
It doesn’t matter how valuable you are or your work is you must know your place. I never had anything but respect for Mr. David De Caires and he will always remain in my eyes, one of Guyana’s outstanding sons. But I saw the necessity of putting forward and defending my worth as a media operative.
Throughout my life, people have resented me from saying what must be said because we need to be diplomatic. I don’t accept that approach to life.
At the Stabroek News I saw a woman at the highest level of authority behave constantly in the most disgraceful manner. She remains one of the most uncouth women I have met in middle class Guyanese society.
But she was never shunned because of who she was. I do not have and will never have poisonous feeling to many institutions and citizens that I have confronted. And there have been quite a number. All I did was defend my dignity, my worth as a trained academic and my value as a commentator. I have no regrets in what I have done.
I do accept that my language style may not have been elegant at times. But I do believe that when you are mistreated you have a right to fight back, to use strong phrases to defend your dignity.
I believe in life, people must not accept to be humiliated and be abused. Like my dad, I staunchly defend my dignity. I will always do so.
Why is it that if you are not light complexioned and from the upper class, your loud behaviour must be frowned upon but people from that class can do the same thing without sanction?
Why is it that a middle class person can cuss down, threaten, drink and behave badly but that is alright because his class shields him from being upbraided?
Mr. Robert Corbin told me that he is writing his memoirs. I plan to write something on my life as I get older. So I can tell the next generation what Guyanese society was like when they were babies.
The Guyanese society is too shameless in its double standards. It is my biology to speak out against this. I once wrote that I missed my days at the University of Toronto. It had 28,000 students and thousands of teachers but life was straightforward and honest in that community.
My work place, UG, with just 5,500 staff and students is a jungle by comparison, I agree, and concede that others may not like your blunt grammar. But it is all due to interpretation. Undiplomatic semantics may be necessary in many situations. This is life.
Writer’s note. I am told that Magistrate Beharry is discomforted by an article of mine that criticised her for placing bail of $85, 000 on an accused who stole $4000. I got that figure from the published version of Stabroek News. It turned out that the alleged stolen amount was $84, 000. I couldn’t know that from what I read. In this context, the magistrate can see the fault was not mine.
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