Latest update May 28th, 2023 12:59 AM
Mar 24, 2023 Letters
Many of us in Guyana and the Diaspora have heard the name Jimmy Cliff, one of Jamaica’s most famous reggae stars whose most popular melody “Many Rivers to Cross.” The lyric in the song is indicative of what is happening in the country, that is we have many problems to overcome, but we believe that the most pressing is for all of us to step up and heal the racial divide and hatred that have permeated our society and have ripped the nation apart for decades. Governments in the past have tried but with little success because the problem still lingers on. We can no longer bury our heads in the sand or pretend like some of us have and continue to do that racism does not exist. It does and it is deep-rooted! Those of us who are in denial that racism does not exist are only deceiving themselves. And to prolong the problem hoping that it will be solved by a future generation is ludicrous. Racism is an evil that has embolden some at the expense of others and the claim that only time will solve it is absurd. The Greek poet Menander, who lived around 300 B.C. said, “Time is the healer of all necessary evils.” While Menander is correct, we as Guyanese must act now to end racism because it has been a feature in society for decades with no end in sight. It is like an unattended sore and if not attended to would fester and grow.
However, the belief by some that racism can be solved through civil discourse and education which is the corner stone of society should be explored. Since returning to office in August 2020, the Minister of Education Ms. Priya Manickchand and her team have done an outstanding job in making education available to everyone in the country. And based on statistics from the Ministry of Education, school dropouts have reduced significantly, especially in the populated areas of the country and in the hinterland, CXC grades have improved, and students’ performance have been exceptional in English, mathematics, and other science subjects. We must congratulate the Minister and her team for such amazing accomplishments, but there is need for an expanded curriculum to include the teaching of racism and its negative impact on society at all levels, from primary to post-secondary.
The truth is racism is detestable and has no place in society in the 21st century. But it does not exist in Guyana only, it is a world-wide phenomenon and while some are uncomfortable to address it, we must find ways to eradicate it from our society. The United States, Canada, Britain, and the western countries have prided themselves on being considered the bastions of democracy, yet they have all failed to deal adequately with racism and inequality in their societies. Many believe that there may be reasons for their failure to deal with racism and inequality in their societies, but some have asserted that they are fearful of being accused of opening “Pandora’s Box—an artifact in Greek mythology that means something that creates a new set of unnecessary problems that were not expected.
Today, we have a golden opportunity to jettison racism from our society and not pass it on to future generations. We cannot and must not look back to the decades of disappointment to resolve it. We must move forward with pride, dignity, and a genuine sense of responsibility to end this evil from society. All in society must confront racism through civic discourse and education. Studies from several social scientists have shown that racism breathes hatred that could lead to loneliness because when one is deemed to be a racist, it is likely that the individual is shunned by society and becomes an outcast and, as a result, becomes lonely which if not tended to or guarded could lead to depression which in turn could trigger self-destruction and or the devastation of others. Such is the temperament and intensity of racism in our intransigent society. We must preserve our national pride and not allow racism to saturate our society or else we will perish as a nation as there will be no hope for us.
It is time for all of us to put traction on President Dr. Ali’s vision of “One Guyana” and at the same time call on the powers that be to increase the wages of civil/public servants to withstand the high cost-of-living and to make tertiary education available to all free of cost. Our leaders will be showered with praise for taking such bold steps and it will be a blessing to our beloved country and its citizens far and wide.
Dr. Asquith Rose
No contracts cast in stone, except Norton and Jagdeo own!
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