‘Uncomfortable truth’

Dear Editor,


Really, we are not a people known for steadfastly following through on anything no matter how wholesome or righteous, except when it is of direct personal interest. Time and again we see people coming up with wonderful ideas, proposals, concepts, etc, on ways of addressing some of our many problems which we often times applaud, but after the initial interest and much brouhaha, there is hardly even a glance in that direction. Thus we get the impression that those ideas for all the initial interest they generated were not really of any importance.

Editor, I’m stepping back here a bit, referring to that address by attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes a little over three months ago at the Bagotville Community Centre, on the state of African Guyanese, under the heading ‘Hughes confronts uncomfortable truths’ KN, April 7. In that address the brother was very blunt and called a spade a spade, something many of us are having difficulty with today. People are refusing to face the truth, masking it and indulging in subterfuge. And I do love the term ‘uncomfortable truths’ cause we have black folks who till now, in spite of all that is taking place, still say, “We can’t talk so about our own people, other people does do wus and nobody don’t seh anything.” Well I’m sorry, that’s poppycock for me. Yet it is good that this frightening situation of the Afro-Guyanese has finally come a calling, for it has been long overdue and that occasion was indeed a bold step.

Stating that African-Guyanese home is in crisis, Mr Hughes was emphatic about addressing the face of violence and crime in the African Guyanese community. “The reality is that the perceived face of crime and violence in our communities is black, young and invariably male. The only thing worse than black on black violence and crime is the silence which allows it to continue…We have ducked, dodged, avoided and refused to address this truth,” he was quoted as saying. Indeed we have been sweeping these uncomfortable truths under the carpet for quite a while, ignoring them at our own peril. Some folks are so black conscious that they refuse to acknowledge the negatives of their kind, turning a blind eye in denial of what is so palpable, and this is the kind of hypocrisy that helps us none, and I can’t call that love.

One can, if they so wish, keep on their rose-rimmed glasses and pretend all is well when walking through certain predominantly black populated communities at night known for their poor reputation. This is no guessing matter; decent working folks from these communities have had many unpleasant experiences, are very apprehensive and always on the lookout. And I’m not saying that there aren’t those truly conscious ones and organisations assiduously working and breaking their backs to help change the present order of things, but it appears as if the rate at which we are falling into crisis is so rapid that it far outstrips the rate at which we are reclaiming and mending warped minds, pulling things back together. But we need not lose sight of the harsh reality, for it is we who begot them, they are of us, our procreation and that we have to grapple with.

What also appears to be a rather disturbing thing is that many of our young males have resolutely taken the decision that this is what they want to be – this is their calling, like a Bonny and Clyde. They see things they desire and crave, nice things to have, so as to feel a sense of belonging, but have not the means of acquiring them legitimately; they belong to the army of the unaccountables, whom nobody sees or cares about until the damage is done. Thus they simply fashion a way of their own, which against the existing backdrop and with various social and economic imbalances at work, nurtures a criminal mind, and this is the scourge that haunts us today. Thus this statement by Mr Hughes while strident, is smack on: “A nation is only as strong as the sum total of its constituent parts and if things are not right in a part of the nation then the things cannot be right in the state.” This is wisdom, sound stuff, makes you go ‘wow’! We have people who know all of this, folks who can put all this kind of sound philosophical reasoning together, so how come one doesn’t get the impression that they do? How come thoughts and deeds don’t harmonise? Why are they so often in conflict? Anyway, as the good attorney would know and has rightly stated, the problem needs national attention, an urgent policy which must be formulated and incorporated into the scheme of things. It should be addressed by the government and all others involved and not simply watered down to a black-on-black scenario.

Do we need a microscope to see that many young blacks from those impoverished communities and ghettoes see the Police Force as the ideal opportunity for their hidden, sick, criminal agenda? “It is from these communities that we select our young policemen, put them in uniform and then by some magic expect them to behave different from their predecessors,” said Hughes. Smack on! only a simpleton would not see a pattern of human nature where we often practise what we see. Our police force has long been in a terrible crisis, and let me tell you, dear reader, it’s getting worse. What is needed is a complete overhauling – a meaningful one, a thorough new orientation. We do nothing good by having young recruits coming in under the supervision of old scallywags; the evidence is overwhelming of lesser ranks carbon-copying the behaviour of their seniors, and this behaviour is seldom marked by good qualities.

Look and observe the attitude and mannerisms of young black police clad in that all-over dark blue and high-top boots outfit, gun in hand and tell me what you see. One doesn’t need a college degree for that. Now let’s face it: if I’m allowed to be open and guided by my own perceptions, I’ll have to say that notwithstanding what might have been, many Indians in the light of the dreadful things that have been taking place, especially those who have been victims, deep within hold absolutely nothing against convicted criminal Roger Khan, since they saw him as their protector. This was clearly demonstrated during the Lusignan massacre. To be frank, some of our young black males, many of them from dysfunctional and fatherless homes are on a train bound for heaven knows where. They are hooked into activities that will not do them good, but really it doesn’t bother them none; they are not particularly interested in anyone’s dead, impractical, idealistic philosophy about life which they can’t feel and which they know wasn’t designed for them to fit within the scheme of things.

Yours faithfully,
Frank Fyffe

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