Race relations in Guyana has to be the biggest #MeToo gathering

Dear Editor,

I look at relations between the two races in this country and ask: where do I see things standing in this country?  What can be said of the passions and thinking since that last milepost of May 2015?  How to do so unflinchingly but carefully on this sensitive and most critical of areas?

First, it is palpably raw, ugly, and disturbing. No matter how muted or nuanced, this is the sickening reality.  None wants to disengage from history; few seek to engage in the present.  This is the eggshell social texture-a film really-through which each angry group (they are very much so) peers at each other, avoids each other, and takes suspicious measures of the other from the safety and comfort of rearview mirrors. The visions are one way, always cloudy, and streaked with the dirt and grime of accumulated memory. We see what we want to see, and what we think is there to be seen according to our own bigoted interpretations.  For all of the sunlight, this is one hell of a dark place; and like the religious hells, this one always burns at fever pitch. When all is considered, the Guyanese situation reminds of Esau and Jacob: two stirring nations in one womb. The space is too limited; the spoils can only go to one.

Second, both of the major competing racial groups are furious.  One because its members came to believe that their joyride at the trough should be eternal, and that it was abruptly unjustly curtailed.  The feeding was just getting in full swing.  The new group is also furious because it has inherited a raided pantry, and a closely watched one at that; there is space for the creative and daring, but the going is tough, with rewards scarce.  Both groups having feasted long on the luscious forbidden fruits of power smell and taste that rich familiar Guyanese political norm of, “is we tun fuh teef.”  The jury is still in session as to how much.  To be sure, there is still buying and selling, and bartering and conspiring between adversaries (people have to make a living, and the wiser the government, the slicker the population).  Further enraging is the new people discover that the old people have sewed up much of the rich runnings. In some instances, the parties have ironed out a practical colour scheme: green business (currency) under white cover (truce flags).  Call it peaceful coexistence in a cooperative republic; money always talks.

Third, Ian McDonald recently offered that we cannot win if we do not like one another.  I must humbly point out to the sage, that animosities are so sharp and the races have so little use for one another currently, both prefer not to win as the price of not liking the other.  Mere toleration is an edgy objectionable reality in a huge land too tight for just two.  The furthest I would go is to say that there must be some degree of mutual appreciation.  It could be argued that appreciation conceals some strain of liking.  The way I assess the races in this country is that they construct relations that are 50% based on bile and 50% based on bitterness, as stoked by history and emotion, and with scant regard for the rational.  Believe it or not (with arithmetic aside) there is still something left in the tank for the haters and baiters and mongers to work their toxins.  Guyanese are nothing, if not larger than life.  To the disbelieving I suggest checking the newspapers, marketplaces, roads, and the no longer innocent neighbourhoods. If those fail (a big if), there is always the crowded gutter; everything coagulates right there.

Fourth, the races in this society have neither patience nor interest in thinking or evaluating; simply too torturous and now never a part of racial makeup or the national one. Thinking would bring to a feared place: the truth and answers not desired.  Why upset the sacred racial apple carts?  Make that donkey carts; mentalities are that vintage. In this society the races thrive on the accelerants doled out by instigators; they take the form of loud people, lowlifes, and those boisterous figures that stir the racial pot and keep the racial stove overheated. The temperate is boring and as dull as an empty beer bottle with a dead roach inside; exhibitionism is demanded, it is what is dished out in spades. It is galvanizing and attracts

company.  The now departed Tom Wolfe called them (the exhibitionists) “the lice of public life.”

Fifth, social cohesion efforts are admirable; but they are meaningless as a single tribe affair.  This alone is evidence of the hostile objections and near irreversible indifference to even working towards solutions, however minimal.  I go so far to say that there is great scorn and distaste for those who try or attempt to try.

Sixth, race relations in Guyana has to be the biggest #MeToo gathering with almost 750,000 sponsors, 750,000 followers, and 750,000 victims.  The greatest number of Guyanese are pleased to be part of the action, sometimes closeup, other times quietly and secretly.  Everybody chants about change, but all are rigidly opposed to making the first conversion: themselves.  Such is the revealing nakedness of this society; it is where many are energized by the thrills of a cheap way of life, and content with a failed status quo.  So where really are the two races in Guyana?

Each is in a place that comforts and makes secure.  They like where they are and have absolutely no interest in emigrating to higher ground.  True to form (and indoctrination) that outside world is filled with frightening two-legged land monsters; it is real savaging alien territory.  Thank you, but I will stick to my own is the reflexive protective posture.  The campfire tales of myths repeated sound better with every new telling.  It is the best place for the clans; it is the very worst place for a nation searching to find itself.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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