Our political, business leaders must set the language, tone

first_imgDear Editor,“Any truth I maintain is my own property. Every honourable act is done without command or compulsion; it is unalloyed, and contains no admixture of evil.” – Seneca.Having had the good fortune of being involved in sports, academia, business and politics as a Guyanese — be it in the community where I reside, the business I manage, giving solicited or unsolicited advice to politicians — it seems to me that it is time for us to now look directly at the sunlight and cast off the Guyanese shadow of race identification that has tormented and divided Guyana for over sixty years.We have to enable and embrace a culture, especially at the political, business and governmental levels, that de-emphasises the use of such terms as African-Guyanese, Indian-Guyanese, Portuguese-Guyanese, Chinese-Guyanese; and similarly, the use of black, brown, red, white and yellow to identify Guyanese in different ways.Referring to Guyanese in a hyphenated or race-labelling manner should not be the primary means of communication on our population demographics; we can instead convey the information using inclusive language with the tone and prosody of what is being emphasised. The use by Guyanese of self-hyphenation and race-labelling tends to create racist and other destructive divisions among our people.A disturbing visual and widespread occurrence resulting from the partial consequence of this racialisation and destructive practice is cornerstoned often times in segregated local employment practices in governmental organisations and private businesses. Some of our leading private sector institutions present this social malady, and to a lesser extent, this perversion occurs far too frequently in the public sector.Having studied the evolution of two great leaders, namely Malcolm X and Walter Rodney; and having seen their transformation to believing in integrated, multiethnic, multicultural, and multiracial societies and nations, I will let their progressive wisdom guide me.The following quote is an extract from Malcolm X’s last speech in Detroit on February 14, 1965: “I am not racist in any form whatsoever; I don’t believe in any form of racism, I don’t believe in any form of discrimination or segregation”.Similarly, we have Walter Rodney concluding the following in a 1978 lecture: “…it seems to me that we are in a position to illustrate, and to illustrate not just from the distant past, but the recent history of Guyana, that race is an aberration. Viewed from a working class point of view, that it is maintained deliberately by classes whose interest contradicts with the interest of the working class…”.Tackling problems of poverty, housing, education, security and unemployment should be done without the use of race labels. We can do so in a nation building manner that advances Guyana-ism to unify our country, and not instead have a mixture of hyphenated Guyanese hordes that are easily ignited racially by our baser instincts, where these baser instincts are invariably politically instigated.The Guyana-ist system I am advocating will not allow for employment; property ownership; social services; and financial services, among other systems’ services, structures or industries, to be determined on a discriminatory basis. Instead, the economic, social and cultural components of Guyana-ism will be implemented using principles and policies that are reflective of demographic parameters in a Guyanese context.We cannot, and ought not to, ignore or try to wish away our admixture; yet this admixture must never be emphasised above Guyana-ism. Being Guyanese is what our political leaders must herald and proclaim.If great men such as Malcolm X and Walter Rodney, in their knowledge morphing, saw the necessity for racial integration and the vital importance of human rights, so must we. The meanings of words expressed and the contexts in which they are used have consequences. Let us aim to use language for positive consequences.It would be remiss of me not to recognise that the political culture of the two major parties needs to be overhauled, needs to be changed, needs to be transformed into being pro-Guyanese.Over the sixty years I referenced above, we have had two political movements that captured — nationally and in the diaspora — an ethos that we, in Guyana, need so much. The political movements built under the umbrellas of The Working People’s Alliance and The Alliance For Change were destroyed or subsumed by one of the major parties or by both of the major parties. The destruction occurred in one instant: after the death of Walter Rodney in June of 1980; and the shredding of the Working People’s Alliance continued with actions that followed over a decade after his death.What became clear with the passage of time is that Guyana-ism was not allowed to flourish, because of the actions and conduct of the two major political parties.In 2011, the Alliance For Change, at the height of its better and brighter days, inhaled, inspired and exhaled the spirit of nationhood. The soul of the Alliance For Change was subsequently subsumed and snuffed out after the 2015 General and Regional Elections, thereby losing its Guyana-ist identification. My belief is that lasting change from this ruinous race-based and race-labelling culture will best be exampled and implemented from within the two major parties.As Senator Barrack Obama said in February of 2008: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”Let us use this pre-election period to Guyanan-ise the political culture, and forge a sense of nationhood, regardless of party affiliation or party support.We ought not to have rubber stamp politicians in senior office. Terms such as race traitor, house slave, race sellout and other race-based permutations should not be foisted on those who seek to cultivate a Guyana that is inclusive and speaks for all Guyanese.Positive vibrations are what we need in Guyana from our ‘Grangers’ and ‘Jagdeos’. Our political and business leaders must set the language and tone; it is the honourable thing to do. As Guyanese, we are capable of avoiding the hyphens that cage and separate us. As Guyanese, we can be one people in one nation with a destiny of solidarity.Sincerely,Nigel Hindslast_img

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