In his February 3, 2020 column, Freddie Kissoon revealed that he has had to come to my defence against charges by Indian-Guyanese that I am a racist. According to him, he has had to also defend Mark Benschop against such charges. Mark has since responded to Freddie.
I want to use the opportunity provided by Freddie’s column to again comment on the core problem he raises. He ended the column with the observation that I feed such accusations because of the nature of my “activism.”
The activism Freddie speaks about is my support for the re-election of the APNU+AFC Coalition, which, according to my detractors and presumably Freddie, runs against my Rodneyite politics.
I have already publicly said that Freddie and I disagree on what’s next for Guyana. He thinks the emergence of a Third Party with the capacity to produce a minority government would reduce the PNC and PPP grip on Guyanese politics. I think the strengthening of the current coalition would achieve the same outcome.
My support for the Coalition’s return to power, then, is not a justification of its errors, but an endorsement of its possibilities despite those errors.
I am not swayed by the argument for a minority government as a progressive outcome, but I respect the right of its proponents to advance it and work for it.
I have already spoken to the misguided view that my support for the coalition is driven by racial considerations. But the truth of the matter is that I am quite aware that in Guyana, the qualification as a racist rests on two pillars—advocacy for the dignity and rights of your own ethnicity and opposition to the party of the other ethnicities.
I study and teach about race and racism. So, I know that the definition of a racist is one who advocates the superiority of his or her ethnic group and practices the political, economic and cultural domination of his or her group over others.
But in Guyana we do not use that definition. We have concocted our own simplistic but potent definition to justify the ethnic enclaves we have erected over time. So, the charges of racism against me by Freddie’s prominent Indian-Guyanese friends is less about me, and more about a cultural sickness in our society when it comes to politics.
I have said before that the view that anyone who speaks about the cultural pride and dignity of his or her ethnic group is a racist, is the height of foolishness. Some people think that to be non-racist, one must avoid affirmation of one’s ethno-racial identity and/or condemn one’s group.
I stubbornly refuse to toe that line, because I see it as a betrayal of the sacrifices of my ancestors who made it out of enslavement so that I could walk this earth free from physical bondage. And I don’t care if Freddie’s prominent Indian-Guyanese friends call me a racist for doing that—they will someday account for their willful ignorance of what a real racist is.
Some people ask why I don’t advocate for Indian-Guyanese cultural dignity too—why only Africans? The answer is simple—it would be presumptuous of me to believe that I can speak for Indian-Guyanese in the cultural realm. I can lend solidarity to the Indian-Guyanese cultural cause, but not speak for it.
I come to the second definition of a racist in Guyana. Any African and Indian leader who opposes the PNC and PPP respectively is branded a racist. You are given some slack if you criticize the party of your race, but the minute you cease that criticism, you become a racist.
I was cut some slack by many Indian-Guyanese while I was pounding the Coalition government. But the minute I announced that I was supporting the Coalition’s re-election, I moved from being a good Negro to a racist. I was “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”, they say. “Hinds is now showing his true colours, ”they scream.
And guess what, Freddie. Many prominent and not so prominent Africans who serenaded you when you were pounding the PPP, are now labelling your anti-APNU+AFC advocacy as racist bigotry. They see you as the Indian who cannot be trusted, even though you do not advocate for Indianism.
I don’t bother to “defend” you, because I know the simplistic origins of that narrative. And those Indians who said you betrayed the race when you helped to bring down the PPP and put the Coalition in office, are now embracing you with open arms. They care not that you are voting for Shuman—what is key is that you are not voting for the PNC-Coalition, and that you are hammering them. Just as they care not that I am voting for the WPA as part of the Coalition–not the PNC.
And Freddie, you feed that perception that the Coalition is a sham, because you refuse to give any legitimacy to the idea of the Coalition as more than just PNC. You and I and all Guyana know that the PNC dominates the Coalition, and will do so for some time to come — that is inevitable. But you also know that that domination is resisted by an anti-domination, and that out of that clash something new is slowly emerging. The motion of history cannot be stopped by pronouncements by you and me. You are too intelligent an analyst not to see that.
In the end, Freddie, in our fragile Guyanese racial reality we are all racists – you, Mark and I, and others known. You know very well, Freddie, that many Indian-Guyanese — not all — love Walter Rodney’s activism against the PNC, the party they detest. They care not for his Black Power Groundings with my Brothers. In fact, they silence that part of Rodney so that they can love him up. It’s called sanitizing.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
More of Dr. Hinds’ writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.news. Send comments to [email protected]
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