By Dr. David Hinds
The PPP and its acolytes have found a new target in their relentless attacks on leaders of African Guyanese origin. There has been a chorus of condemnations of statements made by Amanza Walton Desir on my online program, Politics 101. They have taken two words ‘mentally lazy” and attach extreme meaning to them. The accusation is that Ms. Walton Desir comments are racist because she meant that Indian Guyanese are mentally lazy. It is a case of much ado about nothing. Or put another way, it is a case of the PPP and their acolytes seeking to use the public media to poison their supporters’ minds against African Guyanese and simultaneously politically and psychologically lynching another African Guyanese public person.
I just read reports of a statement by the Indian Action Committee calling on the Ethnic Relations Commission to take action against Ms. Walton-Desir. The statement also reported that I was shaking my head as Ms. Walton-Desir was speaking—a clear impression that I agreed with her. Let me say this, whether I agreed with her or not is immaterial. What is of importance is that I stand in solidarity with her as she navigates this latest onslaught by individuals and organizations bent on psychological and political warfare against those they deem to be their enemies.
I say emphatically that the offending statement is neither offensive nor racist. Let me explain. There is a whole school of thought in Ethnic Studies—the Instrumentalist School of thought– which holds that ethnicity is not real; that it is politicians who instill this “false consciousness” in their supporters. Ms. Walton Desir was simply applying that thesis to Guyana. It is a thesis that is embraced by many Guyanese commentators, including Freddie Kissoon who started the attacks on Ms. Walton Desir.
Here is what Kissoon wrote in his column of Sunday May 2, 2021: “ I could go on but from 2015, African Guyanese were betrayed by their party. But unwisely in 2020 they voted for the race of their politicians. Let’s hope they learn in 2025.” By Kissoon’s logic, we should conclude that he thinks African Guyanese are an “unwise people,” and ask the ERC to investigate him. The fact that he, Kissoon, can write the very thing that he finds is racist coming from Walton-Desir, says it all. He either feels that only one set of people can speak on that phenomenon or he simply saw an opportunity to politically and racially lynch another “negro.”
I have been on programs with top PPP leaders who say Indian Guyanese vote for the PPP because of the party’s working-class orientation while African Guyanese are being fooled by the PNC. How many times has the great Dr. Cheddi Jagan expressed that thesis during his lifetime? Doesn’t that imply that Indian Guyanese are rational while African Guyanese are irrational? Where were Kissoon, the IAC and the others when these statements were being made? If the ERC investigates Walton—Desir they will have to investigate whole parties and numerous public people, include Freddie Kissoon who every day berates Kwayana, Hinds and others for being “mentally lazy” because they didn’t support his narrative of ‘rigged election” lastyear. According to Freddie, we chose race over democracy. He describes me as a PNC surrogate—a mentally lazy African.
They have clearly taken two words uttered by a woman and substitute it for the larger point she made. Yes, words matter, but in this instance where words are being used to lynch a human being, I stand with that human being. These people are being hypocritical. I cannot be part of the political and psychological lynching of an innocent woman.