(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 11 August 2012)
I am writing on racism today because I have seen it in all its cruelty and ugliness too often in recent weeks. Some of the comments I have seen Guyanese make about other Guyanese are so abominable that it makes my stomach lurch. I have never had a tolerance for racism and quickly remove racists from my life if even one sentence of race hate is muttered.
What purpose does race hate serve in a society? No good purpose, that is for sure. It highlights an insignificant difference in the population in an attempt to make one race appear superior or inferior to another – much like sexism does with gender. I am writing this column to show that such differences are irrelevant to humanity and that racism is counterproductive to the positive development of the nation.
A few years ago, I read something about race that has long stuck with me. It was a passage from “When God Was A Woman” by Merlin Stone. The book is not about race, but one sentence caught me and I’ve always remembered it.
Speaking of the aggressive northern Aryan invaders, who felt themselves superior to the more civil and developed Near East inhabitants, the author said, “But historical, mythological and archaeological evidence suggest that it was these northern people who brought with them the concepts of light as good and dark as evil (very possibly the symbolism of their racial attitudes toward the darker people of the southern areas) and of a supreme male deity.”
When I read that passage, I stopped reading and chewed over the notion that perhaps it was at that point in history when racism started and subsequently continued to spread to the extent that in much of the world, a person’s skin colour became a determining factor in how much respect and freedom that person should be afforded.