Eyewitness: “Us” vs “Them”…

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…by the PNC
The fallout from the Walton-Desir outburst about “mentally lazy” Indian-Guyanese “in contrast” to rationally actuated African-Guyanese continues to roil the blogosphere and dailies; but, sadly, it’s been producing more heat than light. So, your humble Eyewitness will try to shine some of the latter on the matter. Not like the big guy up in the clouds, who thundered, “Let there be light!” and there was light, but more modestly, by using one theory that’s used in these socially contentious binary relations.
It’s called “othering”, or the formation of an “us versus them” mentality between groups – especially groups who’re competing in one way or another. Now, rather that paraphrasing and risk being accused of taking sides, your Eyewitness will quote extensively from one site, called “Wellmind”. So already you know that “othering” ain’t so kosher!
“Othering involves attributing negative characteristics to people or groups that differentiate them from the perceived normative social group. It is an “us vs them” way of thinking about human connections and relationships. This process essentially involves looking at others and saying “they are not like me” or “they are not one of us.” Othering is a way of negating another person’s individual humanity and, consequently, those that have been othered are seen as less worthy of dignity and respect.
“Othering can lead to discrimination and prejudice against other people. Prejudice is often fuelled by the belief that all members of that group are fundamentally different in some way. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of intolerance are often rooted in othering. Othering can harm relationships by driving a wedge between people who are, in actuality, not all that different. By casting people as others, it suggests that their unique characteristics are to blame for existing inequalities. It can also end up reinforcing existing biases, such as negative attitudes about different groups of people. When people internalise these beliefs and attitudes, they can become even more rigid and entrenched.
“On a societal level, othering can lead to institutional discrimination, and even political policies that single out people who are viewed as somehow different or less deserving. Othering is also present in politics. Authoritarian leaders, for example, stoke fear and resentment of “others” in order to gain and solidify support for their political aims.”
And this is where we return to Ms Walton-Desir. She’s merely regurgitating the stereotype of the “barefoot and backward Coolie” that’s been circulating in the African-Guyanese community since Indians stepped off the boat back in 1838. But they’ve also since been suffering from cognitive dissonance, since the trope was rebutted by the economic success of the Indians.
The political success was the final straw!!
…and our future
Your Eyewitness must point out that Newton’s third law of motion, “Action and Reaction are equal and opposite”, applies to social relations as in physics. So whatever social pressures were applied to the Indian Indentureds by the groups here before them, those pressures just caused them to defensively form their own stereotypes. It also forced them to close ranks and subdue the diversity in religions (Islam and Hinduism), regional origins (north and south India) and even caste, to a great extent.
So, what we have here in Guyana are several groups, each running around speaking “AT”, and not “TO”, each other because of stereotypes they have in their heads. Some well-intentioned persons are able to break out of their straightjackets for a while, but then one-thing-or-the-other from one-group-or-the-other will drive them back to their original positions.
Take that reaction after Granger threw 7000 mostly Indian-Guyanese on the breadline.
Were they “mentally lazy” for deserting the AFC?

…on Indian Arrival Day
Your Eyewitness notes that one Quixotic fella – who’s been carrying on about the issue for decades – has called for “Arrival Day” to be officially named “Indian Arrival Day”.
Still tilting at windmills, or will the call be heeded one day?