Tag Archives: ethnic politics

Guyana Elections: DISCORDANT NOTES – by Ralph Ramkarran

DISCORDANT NOTES

Ralph Ramkarran

Ralph Ramkarran

Posted on March 14, 2015 –  by Ralph Ramkarran

As expected, the events at Babu John attracted wide attention and media coverage. A front page photograph in SN of President Ramotar belting out Bob Marley’s ‘Let’s Get Together’ was in striking contrast to the accusation by Dr. Bharat Jagdeo that during the 2011 elections, the Opposition APNU had sent drummers around calling on their supporters to ‘let’s get the coolies out,’ or words to that effect. Observers heard these two discordant notes, one a plea for unity in song, the other a divisive rant, and several others this past week.

The accusation against the PNCR created a storm and at press appearances, Dr. Jagdeo sought to defend his remarks. The PPP’s complaint is that it is treated unfairly. The media, it claims, focuses on the PPP and ignores the PNC’s historic appeal to racism. The fact is that when either political party appeals to its supporters to vote for its party, in whatever language, it is an appeal that is alleged to be directed to one ethnic group.   Continue reading

Race, ethnic politics and police violence in Guyana – By David Hinds

Commentary: Race, ethnic politics and police violence in Guyana
Published on March 25, 2014 – By Dr David Hinds
There is major concern over police brutality against African Guyanese since the current executive government came to power. African Guyanese activists have pointed to over 400 African Guyanese, mostly young men, who have died at the hands of the police since 1992. There are strong claims that there was direct state involvement in some of these killings during the period 2002-2006. The recent Colwyn Harding incident has raised these concerns anew. Many have joined the debate. There have been some very useful contributions. The police force has correctly come under severe criticisms. But, sadly, what is missing from the debate is how police brutality is a reflection of our larger ethno-racial problem. Of all the public commentators, only Henry Jeffery and Freddy Kissoon have dared to go there.

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Dr David Hinds is a political activist and commentator. He is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. 

And yes, we have had and will continue to have an ethno-racial problem. I use the term ethno-racial to mean ethnic groups that relate to each other through the lens of race. To get a proper sense of what we are talking about, a brief history and explanation of race is needed. We often talk about race in Guyana as if it is figment of people’s imagination — false consciousness. But it is not; it is real. Race as biology has been proven to be unreal. But race as social, political, economic and cultural practice is real.

The concept of race was first developed in the USA in the late 1600s as a justification for the rise of plantation slavery. It gave social meaning to skin colour. Blackness came to mean less than human, while whiteness came to mean fully human. The German philosopher, Hegel, said to be human is to be white. Thomas Jefferson would later remark that blacks were inferior in body and mind and do not feel life’s pains as other groups. Other white thinkers concluded that black people could not exist in a state of freedom. Hence it would be dangerous to free them from slavery.Blackness became synonymous with, among other things, backwardness, indolence, shallowness, unreason and laziness. This characterization of blackness as inferior — the white racial frame — found its way into laws and socio-economic and political policies. Over time such laws and polices inevitably begun to shape people’s consciousness about blackness and, by extension, whiteness.

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