Oct 17, 2020 Letters
The first thing I must say is that there is more of them, and so much so that there is scant evidence of the equivalent across the minefield or in the record. Specifically, there are more Black faces with the PPP than there is in quantitative parity with Indians in the layers of the PNC. I share a few positions.
Congratulations are extended to the PPP for recognizing the oomph factor, and other pluses, that come from having a diverse field, well populated by Black Guyanese, or those who appear to be, in its ranks. As strategy and operational output, it cannot be bettered, and positives are tendered for the PPP’s actions. Having said this, I now seek to go at this from another direction and the ground up. I pinpoint the subtleties not spoken of, the realities not addressed, and both of which contribute significantly to the solid Black presence in the PPP/C. I approach this with heavier emphasis on what I believe are individual Black perspectives, while doing the same, but to a considerably lesser degree as such applies to Indo-Guyanese. Both speak eloquently to the raw and inarguable conditions of Guyana, in all of its racial and environmental implications.
There are those Black Guyanese, who identify readily with the PPP, due to familial loyalties that go back decades. They have paid harshly, with no turning back possible. Then there are the newer faces, which besides the public ones, are largely unknown, save for among their communities and those so privileged. This is a blessing that is incalculable in the personal comfort and security that it affords in wider Guyana. To put differently, and more roughly what I am saying is this: a), Black Guyanese identifying with the PPP are not subject to the feared exposure factor; b) this is because they are given the equivalent of a ‘street pass’ when things turn for the worse; and c) this is because they are reflexively identified as being of ‘one’s own’ or a ‘comrade’ or a fellow racial traveller, however distant, however unfamiliar. The thinking of the streets and alleys is that they are ours, let them through. As said, that is priceless and an incentive all by itself to cross the floor, since there is no personal physical cost.
Taking this across the divide, Indo Guyanese have no such security, be it psychological or actual. Certainly, like Afro Guyanese, they are looked upon as racial traitors, but only with more scarring vehemence for crossing an unreturnable Rubicon. But, and it is a big but for this is where all roads terminate: the Indian Guyanese that dares to associate openly with the PNC does not have the protective mark on head or hand (think hair texture and skin tone) that affords the same passage in times of severe distress that is part and parcel of the Afro Guyanese experience. The latest instance of this distinguishing feature was what took place at Cotton Tree where ample evidence resides of who was spared and who was not.
I sum up more starkly: for the Black Guyanese PPP supporter, genuine or otherwise (and I attach the former), there is neither immediate fear nor existential threat nor extended exposure. For the Indian Guyanese PNC supporter, he or she lives with sharp ostracism in community and heavy dread in every other area farther away. The automatic association, almost without exception, is that there comes a PPP man. It is just the way it is. That is reality. That has been deterrent, no matter how welcoming the PNC may have been, and it has not. That is present and future. That is Guyana. To emphasize, Black Guyanese PPP supporters get to eat their cake and have it also, in what is an absolute win-win situation for them. The PPP usually seize and exploit.
There is another thing: it is readily acknowledged that there are more Indian haves and many more have nots among Blacks in Guyana. Because of the latter, it gets crowded in times of PNC triumphs when the Black Guyanese look for racial reward, and with competing Indians viewed as usurpers. On the other side because more Indians have, they can stand aside, which reduces competition. Black Guyanese aspirants can flourish, if only for themselves. They come and go.
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