“What’s so disappointing is that the two major ethnicities in Guyana have far more in common than there are differences. But we have allowed those differences to be exploited by a few self-serving persons” writes Mr Clarence O Perry responding in the SN of March1to SN columnist Mr Dave Martins in ‘So it go’ of February 23. Indicative of much decency and pregnant promise, all Guyanese should find much to rejoice in what Mr Perry seems to crave.
“Mankind. That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences any more. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate, that today is the USA Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for your freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate … our independence day!” These were the words spoken by black American President Bill Pullman in the movie Independence Day after planet Earth was invaded from outer space and mankind faced certain annihilation.
Where can Mr Perry then find disagreement with the SN columnist’s sentiments which note, “In Guyana and the Caribbean generally, we have found a measure of acceptance or accommodation other than the outright rejection that has been the response in many lands”? In an about face ‘bait and switch,’ Mr Perry does indeed find disagreement to condemn Mr Martins’ perceived “accom modation of which he speaks [as it] is essentially a buyer-seller relationship. That is not social integration. Wealth flows in one direction only – from us to them.”
Isn’t this high grade hypocrisy or someone speaking with a forked tongue? Mr Perry should really make up his mind: Are the critical differences which have divided Guyanese exclusively based on race or buyer-seller economics and how did matters arrive there? Mr Perry himself earlier lamented how Guyanese – he specifies – “we, have allowed those differences to be exploited by a few self-serving persons” which only exposes him like an emperor on public parade without clothes.
From which and whose mouth should reply be spoken, not necessarily speaking in tongues, to now highlight why Mr Perry’s ignoble exhortations are all hollow fakery unlike Mr Martins’s observations.
For Mr Perry to admonish that “Dave Martins could have adopted a more enlightening approach to the issue of ethnic separation … [since]… he objects to Guyana being a prime target of criticism where the issue of ethnic separation is concerned” begs the question where and why is his “a more enlightening approach to the issue of ethnic separation”? In fact Mr Perry preaches how Mr Martins is somewhat deficient because, “He rejects the opportunity to urge protagonists that because of our unique circumstances in the Caribbean it is possible to demonstrate to other societies that ethnic separation can evolve into ethnic integration [?], and why attempts at ethnic supremacy are foolhardy.”
Just to be helpful and in case we do not get it, Mr Perry simplifies Mr Martins to read: ‘Ethnic separation is no big deal. It is a worldwide phenomenon that has been a characteristic of human social evolution since the days of homo erectus.’ Shouldn’t Mr Perry define what is his notion of “ethnic integration” ie, is it miscegenation, unless he actually means “ethnic coexistence” which is obviously lost to him?
Mr Perry points out that our current homo sapiens state which evolved from our homo erectus origins in Africa to “The separation of ethnicities which confronts the human race today was definitely not a case of one ethnicity being superior to the other.” Mr Perry is correct about human evolution but he conveniently forgets concomitant evolved cultural beliefs, behaviour, values, education, scientific achievements, communications, history and religion all contribute to shaping relationships.
European Christian culture and ‘civilization’ decimated the unique native New World population, their culture, lifestyles and cities and by slaughter and disease reduced them to servitude and miserable dependency because they “vanished without a fight”! Those “original buyers and sellers” who enslaved Africans and stripped them of their cultural merchandise adorning their existence and survival now boldly witness, some, who do not even suffer from the excess of imitation or at least embarrassment in visiting a similar automatic preconditioned “ethnic integration” paradise on others. “All are equal, but some are more equal than others seems to be causing confusion. In a challenge between extinction and survival President Pullman’s inspiration that “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!” becomes a necessity which cannot be ignored or compromised.
All the efforts and resolve to regain lost African cultural traditions in the New World cannot be but a complete waste of time if “ethnic integration” or “social integration” is finally to alloy and replace ‘the white man’s burden.’ That black is beautiful has not been repudiated or found unattainable but Mr Perry would have it so. It was Mr Perry himself who emphasized “The separation of ethnicities which confronts the human race today was definitely not a case of one ethnicity being superior to the other.” What he actually should do, with all respect, is to advocate and become a confirmed “producer-seller.” Can such capitalist sellers who afford and do read newspapers refuse and discriminate against potential “buyers,” just perchance to assist their upward economic mobility? Mr Perry would be most welcome to explain on whose shoulders lies the burden whiles the trees grow to bear bounty. Ethnic magnificence cannot be more desirable when by federalism it is the best alternative of pursuit within a united Guyana.
Compare the wisdom of those leaders who destabilized the elected Ukrainian government and in their Pyrrhic victory have now inherited their country falling apart because they would not compromise and talk to each other. In the meantime all the reparations which Caricom seeks for slave descendants can only give high hopes it will be shared in equality, nationwide.