It is with growing unease that I have viewed the intensification of the rhetoric domestically and within the diaspora directed towards the growing number of Chinese nationals residing in Guyana. While concerns of political influence peddling, exploitation of the patrimony or the need to strengthen consumer protections are valid, the tone of vilification towards a specific racial group in a state already fraught by ethnic insecurities is disconcerting. No persons belonging to any group within society is deserving of feeling anxious and excluded due to perceived or real threats based on their race, ethnicity, or any other marker of intersectional identity. It is possible that this tone may increase or justify their susceptibility to unwarranted harassment.
I am confident that the learned persons whose views are featured prominently in the nation’s press are aware of the potential consequences to the everyday lives of those who are discussed in such unmeasured tones. Most especially as Chinese is continuously utilized as the identity marker to discuss the types of businesses whose practices are deemed malfeasant. The discourse at present also serves to diminish the validity of raising concerns regarding the integrity of conducting business fairly within our society. It is disappointing to see that our leadership from across the political spectrum has been tepid in their response to the alarm expressed of discrepancies in commercial practices, as well as the ethnic-based considerations by which these concerns are being raised in a society not unfamiliar with racially based incitements during periods of instability.
Indeed, the leaders and business owners within the nouveau segments of the Chinese minority will eventually need to be included in solutions to address the outlined dilemmas. As some of the articles by the editorial staff of leading dailies have pointed out, the public denotes support for these enterprises with their dollars despite the rhetoric’s tone. If these concerns continue to thematically feature micro-aggressions, the discourse will not be given space to shift towards the integration of these persons into a framework of citizenship that obliges contribution to the common public good. It is also worrying that in such a political climate, the historic contributions of Sino-Guyanese who have called Guyana home for generations will be subject to erasure. National unity, as we have historically demonstrated, will never be achievable by way of othering any particular segment of the nation.