Today I may offend Guyana, especially non-black Guyana. But I have to speak it as I see it. The times demand it. I write this column full of emotions. I write it for me, but most of all I write it for Guyana—a Guyana that is often so hypocritical about its blackest citizens, that at times it becomes unbearable. The last two weeks have been most emotional for Black people throughout the world. We have been forced to relive the slave plantation in real time as we watched a Black man, George Floyd, being killed like a non-human in the full glare of the world. He was killed by a White man who represented the State of America.
He was killed by America. Since that day, the rest of America and the world have taken notice. Some of them have joined Black people in the streets to call on America to honour its promise of human equality to its darkest citizens. It is more than a passing observation that while America crusades around the world for democracy for others, it continues to kill its own darkest citizens at home in reckless abundance. As Dr. Rodney King did some six decades ago, the world asks America to be true to what it put on paper. If all men are created equal, then how can some men kill others with such impunity?
George Floyd was murdered in America, but it could have happened in Guyana. As we in Guyana continue to grapple with our own version of race and its implications, the presence of America and other powerful forces are very much part of our landscape. One sometimes gets the sense that our troubled 2020 election is being fought in a State in the USA or a province in Canada or a county in England. The fingerprints of those countries are all over Guyana at the moment. They are protecting democracy in Guyana as the Black American is lynched in America.
As a Black man from Guyana who spends part of his activism trying to alert the rest of my country to the peculiar condition of Black Guyana, I feel a deep sense of hurt. It took the murder of a Black man in the light of day for the rest of America to realize that anti-Black racism is alive and well. How many times have they not proclaimed the end of race in America? How often have they chided Black America for being too preoccupied with race? How often have they not told Black America that their condition is due to their own failings as a group—the pathology of Blackness?
Here in Guyana we hear the same mantra from our Brown siblings and our own Black elites. They tell us there is no race problem in Guyana—it is an invention by David Hinds, Eric Phillips, Lincoln Lewis, Tacuma Ogunseye and other “racists”. Our Brown siblings call us racists for proclaiming our blackness and for pointing to Guyana’s structural anti-blackness. They tell us we are lying when we say we cannot get loans at the banks or contracts from the government, including from Black-dominated governments. They tell us we are lazy; we do not work hard. They tell us we spend our time in the dancehall and the rum shops while others work hard. They tell us in other words that we are lesser humans.
So, if you are lesser humans you can be killed with impunity. If you are lesser humans, you can be dictated to. If you are lesser humans, you have to be taught democracy. If you are lesser humans, you can be dominated. If you are lesser humans, you cannot govern yourself. If you are lesser humans, you have to be governed by others. If you are lesser humans, you do not matter. If you are lesser humans, you are not endowed with human traits—you cannot exist in a state of freedom.
As Black people we live with that curse wherever we are. And we sometimes join in cursing ourselves because if one is bombarded with narratives of inferiority, one ultimately develops a sense of self-hate. They tell me that I see everything through the prism of race. They tell me to stop being Black and be Guyanese. They tell me that I am a racist even though preach Black supremacy. They tell me to shut up, so they can keep their knee on the neck of Black people undetected.
I can hear my Brown siblings saying here goes the racist David Hinds again. But I care not. For me, the murder of George Floyd is not theory and theorization. It is deeply real. We Black people have done our own wrongs to ourselves and others, but we are humans who deserve to be respected as such. True, there are no Klu Klux Klan or White Supremacy in here. but there is anti-Black racism in Guyana. It hides behind all kinds of masks. It hides behind Guyanese nationalism. It hides behind democracy. It hides behind its Black friends. It hides behind crooked notions of inclusivity. As I write it is hiding behind ballot boxes.
We Black Guyanese suffer in silence and rage because we know there is a knee on our collective Black neck in Guyana too. To paraphrase, Rev Al Sharpton, get your knee off our necks Guyana. All we ask for is to be treated equally and fairly and to be allowed to co-govern Guyana as joint citizens of equal standing.
(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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