Sep 16, 2020 Letters
Last week reminded me of the nearness of sixty years ago. The night sky ablaze with a red glow from Water Street burning to ashes. I was a wee child then, a man now. Most disappointingly, Guyana remains a toddler, a cruelly incapacitated one, creeping around in mindless circles after the most attractive toy of its demented choice. The brightest one around, the most mesmerizing and pleasing one, is RACE. The race toy hugged is now a full-fledged arsenal of our bigotries. All things weighed, I have never experienced the intensities of passions, prejudices, and hatreds like today, notwithstanding decades spent elsewhere.
Whether Water Street or the ill-fated, still secret shrouded RH Carr, or Wismar from the scorching 60s, it is the same saddening and sickening story. We go nowhere, because we desire nothing else, but how we proudly are to the soul of our existences. Now we have Cotton Tree. This is the sum of vision and ambition that undermines tepid attempts at national conversation and, which highlights occasional kneejerk responses to the newest racial crisis exposed.
A few months ago, there was talk about reconciliation. That is now treasonous in Guyana, and simply from thinking of it, no utterance. We lived for elections, now the results consume us and condemn us. In my opinion Cotton Tree was an extension and explosive expression of elections, where people had to perish. Many are the Cotton Trees present, be they about racial authenticity waiting to be bared, or more of criminal mischiefs and political ingenuities exhibited. I say so because there is the police conclusion that the Henry cousins were murdered elsewhere and dumped where found. If credible, there is this criminal injustice that was leveraged into the streets for long days to brutalize the unsuspecting, uninvolved, and innocent.
To those who rightly called for justice, since there is confirmation of a criminal injustice foisted upon a convenient community calculatingly scapegoated, what basis cries about injustice? I inquire: what is and where is truth (and the accompanying peace) given what is now officially presented and in the aftermath of intense prejudices delivered against people demonized? What starting over can there be? Do we care that terrible wrongs were delivered under the banner of justice? I repeat, in my years of nearness to racial passions I have never seen such manifested at the overheated temperatures now registered.
Today, there is this Guyanese tango of one step sideways: five backwards, and always hating and harmful. Nationally, we resist moving forward; we object to identifying and purging the demons that devastate time and again, like last week. We function in clever, sophisticated circles, and congratulate ourselves on how slick we are. Leaders do. Supporters do, too. This is our embodiment at every tier, even as we call with straight faces for ‘peace and justice.’ I think the narrative must be expanded to incorporate: no truth, no reconciliation; hence, no mending nor any enduring healing.
As a nation we are content to lick uncongealed wounds, in the unreconstructed bigotries of individual and communal existences characterized by crazed minds, and a nation stripped to the naked cores of its mutual hatefulness. On this there is thriving.
I point to the Cotton Tree Terrors, where protesters used the word ‘enslaved’ frequently to justify actions. We have enslaved ourselves to narratives that comfort, to leaders who tell us what we want to hear, intimidate us or incite us to hunt. And for these we reach. To worsen a terrible situation, already small Guyanese minds are made distinctively smaller by social media toys. Yesterday, we had toy pistols and plastic dolls. Today, we have electronic weapons to intimidate one another and dolls to dismember. No surprise that our leaders love us.
A month or so ago, I heard ‘we must never go through this again’ but here we are the usual way. And we still stir to chatter about race relations and peace and justice. I am all for those, despite the patented surrounding frauds. We heartily endorse systems that empower our own groups, then turn right around and distance from them when they go against. As said, I have not seen nor ever sensed the power of the passions and prejudices that imperils today.
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