by Vidyaratha Kissoon
“You caucasians know how to rule, we black people cannot rule” the nice man told me. He had one of the old fashioned spirits bottle in front of him.
The man had worked up from poverty and illiteracy to own a successful business. He was looking after an elderly relative with a disability. They both like Donald Trump.
“He talks his mind. Not many people talk their mind. ”
“But oh shoots man, leadership is not about inciting chirren to be racial.. Obama was a good President he reduce US debt and so”
“People still poor. That is why black people didn’t go out and vote for Hilary”
The man does not think he is a bigot in any way.
“I am open minded… I have gay friends.. I find them the most trustworthy because they don’t pretend”
Earlier in the day , a man selling nuts had asked me ‘You come from India.. you look like one a dem’.
By the evening I was caucasian and an accomplice to revelations about race and stereotypes.
“Look at dem villages and you could tell de difference man..”
The old stereotype that from the roadside you could tell the difference between black governance and coolie governance and achievements.
I thought of the two pandits during the PPP time who had expressed horrors at the poverty they saw hidden in the communities in which they worked.
I then go into a rant about the murders this year in some of those supposedly decent looking coolie villages.
It is a gut reaction. Instead of countering the racial stereotypes with dispelling myths and talking history, we end up with talking about the misery as a common ground. ‘We just as bad as dem’ .
“Yeah.. you right.. I going and tek a drink”
Race talk is sometimes necessary to hear what people thinking. Another group of women talked about their prejudice against the ‘Chinese who teking ovah’ every where.
The views boil over every now and then – the uncertainty over who it is that the face of retail business around the country is changing and that Government of China supports its citizens who are involved in retailing Chinese products. There is no talk in Guyana or the Caribbean about the impact on the availability of Chinese goods on the local manufacturing sector.
The women who joked about their biases against Chinese talked about ‘cheap and not good’ products. Many people do not know how to access the Consumer Affairs Division and as with so many other things , race becomes an easy grouping to use when dealing with some of the problems.
Donald Trump has promised to impose protectionist policies to resuscitate the American industries. China is one of his targets.
The man who likes gay people and Donald Trump’s plain talk recognised that it would not be so easy to deal with China.
The man is a black pro LGBT – Trump supporter. He is not religious.
Sunday morning on NCN and there is white American man in a suit expounding about the evils of abortion. Other Sunday mornings I heard him expounding on the evils of homosexuality and same sex marriage.
In Guyana, abortion is legal and there are women of all races who have had abortions and women of all races who would not support abortion.
The website of a pro-family Christian group celebrated Donald Trump as pro-family. They celebrated “Trump appoints strongly pro-life, pro-marriage Sen. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.”
The nice Christian people do not talk about Jeff Session’s racism. Equality is a hard thing and Donald Trump’s rise has shown that ‘plain talk’ is acceptable.
It seems that another PPP MP tried another plain talk thing, maybe testing the waters for the next election campaign. Like his colleague, slap-and-strip-bheri, he faced some ‘ you were a bad boy’ but no serious action has been taken to remove him from the party list.
The unacceptable is fast becoming acceptable. The formerly unacceptable Marriott was the scene of Race talk this week. The African Business Chamber of Commerce was launched on Friday 18th November.
According to an article in the Stabroek News, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said “We all have pride in our ethnicity but while we are proud of our ethnicity, the source of our identity is our nationality. We are Guyanese, there is no conflict between our ethnicity and nationality”
A man in an inter-racial marriage talks about the experience of racism at his work place.
The Ethnic Relations Commission is the Constitutional body which is supposed to deal with racism and the experiences of racism. It was created out of the 2001 reforms.
The Prime Minister though has not said anything about the Ethnic Relations Commission and the other commissions which in June, were possible before the now fast approaching year end.
Meanwhile, race talk will continue to be random and present. Citizens will have to find ways of talking race which does not reinforce the unacceptable. It is not easy.