By The Piper
Hardly a day goes by in the Guyanese media without centuries- old racist stereotypes hurled at Indians. This has been going on for the longest time, all the while hiding behind exposing corruption and fighting for good governance. Astoundingly, the ABC countries are silent on the matter, as are notable organisations such as the Guyana Human Rights Association, The Guyana Bar Association, and the Guyana Press Association.
The political parties (AFC and WPA) that have made the biggest claims for a multi-racial democracy are not only silent on the pervasive attacks against Indians, but tolerate letter writers and columnists who pen articles in their name and favour. The PPP, both in and out of government, pretends not to see or hear about the daily humiliation of half the country. This is ironic because the said trashing of Indian identity has been principally aimed at the PPP which is routinely described as a bastion of supposed Indian interests. When and how will this stop? Who will stand up? Where are the moderate voices?
The racist stereotype against Indians is straightforward and so I will get to it right now. A stereotype is basically a lie told about a group as whole, and repeated so often that it is taken to be true. The main stereotype against Indians is that they are money loving merchants at heart, and will do anything to protect their economic interests. In Guyana, that has been translated into basically sticking together and cheating everyone else.
Whether contractors or cane-cutters, shop-owner or chamber-maid, Indians are portrayed as always conniving to accumulate wealth to the detriment of others. Still according to this narrative, the PPP is the chief facilitator of this nationally organized scam. All others are victims of Indian domination. That is the basic story told everyday in the media.
Stereotypes are flexible in nature and are adapted to suit the situation on the ground. It is also well to remember that as the stereotypes are deployed, they are resisted. If the resistance is effective, then even more potent forms of the said stereotype are formulated, usually combined with more believable lies. More complex forms would give some praised to the targeted group with one hand but then immediately destroy the diabolically concocted generosity.
A good example is the way in which during the last election campaign, some opposition elements praised Dr. Jagan, only to then immediately lambaste people and the party he had worked with all his life.
Stereotypes and other kinds of incendiary political devices can never survive if enough concerned citizens stand up and protest their voices. Those truly concerned about Guyana and its future, instead of the instantaneous gratifications that come with victory, are obliged to protest the current campaign of cultural evisceration against Indians in Guyana.
It goes without saying that now the APNU is in power with the AFC, it has an even great obligation to stand up against all forms of cultural vigilantism, evidence of which can be found in the media practically without let or hindrance.
Africans, the world over, need no introduction to the destructiveness of stereotypes. They have been at the receiving end for centuries, even more than Indians. They know the hurt, the depravity of it all. How then, do we explain the rampant anti-Indian racism in the land of six races? Perhaps it is time to talk. A good place to begin is to acknowledge that many of these attacks are from anti-PPP Indians. The matter, you see, is a political one and unless that is recognized, progress would be difficult.