Ravi Dev must be told his continued disrespect for the African race will come into conflict with some. He is also taking a lot for granted to think it is his domain to define or interpret my reality, choose my words, misrepresent my work, and expect silence or compliance on my part. Not now, not ever!
Reference is made to his June 10th column “For a future peace.” He is reminded in today’s world, peace is premised on justice. Thus his pander for empathy in the claim that my response to his bias is ad hominem shall not deter me. Refer to my letter “My position is in sync with international prerequisites for good governance and social justice” (KN May 29th, 2012). Dev is no victim here. The victim is the society. His use of the media is not to weld this nation together, foster racial harmony, end discrimination and poor governance. His interest is in keeping the races divided to pursue the agenda of racial dominance by demonising and labelling the African race, fronting it under the claim that he is an Indian rights activist.
He is advised while it is his right to agitate on behalf of any group; it cannot and will not come at the cost of disrespecting another and engaging in act/actions to deny them their rights. Our Constitution is very clear on the equality of all races and guarantees the protection of all from discrimination on the ground of race.
Yet, in spite of these tenets, Dev chose to make his political debut to this nation by informing us, if it were not for Indians, Guyana would have reverted to mangroves. This statement is made in absence of evidence and in the presence of historical fact that on the arrival of Indians in 1838, the topography of Guyana was already built and maintained by the enslaved.
Though Africans arrived here as chattel slaves, were treated sub-humanly, they fought against this indignity, and with the support of others brought an end to slavery in the British Commonwealth, paving the way for those who came after to not suffer similar indignity.
Note too, that Dev’s statement is made in the presence of the fact that in 1838 (emancipation) after being enslaved and unpaid for hundreds of years, Africans had already accumulated money to buy villages from their former slave masters, started the village movement, and firmly laid a foundation for the right to self determination. And the money they accumulated came within the four years of amelioration (1834-1838) and being paid at a miserly rate.
This phenomenal feat would be lauded by men of decency. But Dev is tormented by such and seeks efforts to diminish and devalue same, hoping he can escape accountability. His statement is an offence to the African struggles and offends me personally as the descendant of a people, though having suffered much, never sought to hug their achievements for themselves. And he must be told!
Dev is who he is today thanks to the struggles of those who came before. And as he promotes his U.S education, he is reminded this was made possible because of the struggles of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Rev. Al Sharpton and others. In the USA, where race is sharply demarcated – white or black/coloured – and of which he can make no apparent claim to whiteness, the success he enjoyed was ridden on the waves of the African-American Civil Rights Struggles, i.e. the struggles for racial equality.
At home, persons such as Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow and the trade union community, who preceded the political parties, began the struggle for universal adult suffrage, political independence, universal primary education, eight-hour work day, the ordinary man having an opportunity to be elected to the Legislature, toppling the colour/race and other socio-economic barriers, among others. Dev benefitted and continues to benefit!
Yet, in spite of the foregoing, he has the effrontery to write in 1998 that “In addition to the nurtured tradition of revolt, African socialisation patterns pre-dispose them into aggressive habits and frustrating situations elicit aggressive responses, even against authority figures, i.e. there is a normative support for violence in the African community.”
Only a depraved mind would project such thinking on society and argue such behaviour is the purview of one race when there is no evidence to support same, even moreso given what is happening today, and of which he has opted for silence in the midst of escalation.
If Dev takes careful note, he’d see violence and disrespect for authority figures is not the purview of any group but the capability of all! This is why laws and rights are universal. For these tenets seek to ensure the equality and dignity of all, hold all accountable under a universal framework, and bound all to play by the same rules.
Thus his penchant to hide behind thinkers/philosophers should not faze, fool or impress. In fact, this disposition of his gives deeper meaning to Bob Marley’s philosophical outlook that, “If I was educated, I’d be a damn fool.” Evidently, Dev’s projection of having read has not translated to learning, clearly seen with his lack of discernment or refusal to see universal right and wrong, and call it for what it is! He fails to understand that “until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, there is war” (Haile Selassie/Bob Marley).
Africans are no more or less, better or worse, than any group in the human family, as such he will have to respect the United Nations declarations and Guyana Constitution that enshrined equality and dignity for all.
In closing, in Dev’s choice of using his pen/mouth to execute his race war in this society, he is advised he will find a combatant in me. And since the price for peace is justice, it is not a choice he faces to end his war, but a requirement he must respect!
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