At the risk of being subjected to the abuse of being called racist we have decided to continue with our analysis of the open door immigration policy which Barbados has been practicing in recent years. The new government has just acceded to office and we have no idea if we will see a departure from the earlier policy. We remain adamant that the high influx of illegal immigrants into Barbados is cause for concern. We have additional concerns at the high number of those illegal immigrants who are Indo-Guyanese. We remain firm in our view that there are case studies in the form of Trinidad and Guyana which should warn Barbadians that we need to ‘manage’ our burgeoning multi-ethnic population.
We have written several articles which have expressed our concerns. It seems however that the tipping point on this volatile issue occurred on January 31, 2008 when we published an excerpt from the writing of Dr. Kean Gibson – UWI lecturer titled, Indian Racism Against Afro Guyanese In Guyana. Since then the comments have been flowing and have clearly illustrated that the issue of race relations should be placed at the centre of government policy. We are sending a message to Prime Minister David Thompson that Barbados needs to be proactive from now on this matter. Please take decisions to ensure that the stable climate which Barbados has enjoyed over its post-colonial existence continues.
Some comments posted on BU have been pushing the boundary but we feel it is important Barbadians and others try to understand that this is an issue which needs to be confronted. We understand the emotionalism which this issue continues to evoke but as a people we need to move past this point if racial harmony is to be achieved. In the spirit of fair play we have published a letter written by The Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Guyana, Norman Faria which was sent to the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) last year; it addressed concerns arising from the program Book Talk which was aired last year. By coincidence Dr. Kean Gibson was a panelist on the program.
Read Norman Faria’s letter which he emailed to BU tonight…
29 November 2007
Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
The Pine, St.Michael, Barbados
SUBJECT: CBC-TV GIVING PLATFORM FOR HATEFUL RHETORIC
The Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Guyana in Barbados presents its compliments and wishes to refer to the above subject matter. Sometime this year, or maybe last year, your station broadcast a discussion on the book “The Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana” by Kean Gibson during a programme called “Book Talk” . The panel composed of the book’s author and Robert “Bobby” Clarke and David Commissiong. The programme was re-broadcast this year. The exact dates for both screenings may be obtained from the station’s log. The consulate, representing the government and people of Guyana, expresses its disappointment and condemns the showings of these programmes, giving as it does a platform for the peddling of inflammatory falsehoods and other hateful rhetoric which will only serve to incite hatred and tension among ill informed and impressionable minded viewers and cause difficulties for the ongoing cordial and otherwise friendly relations between the peoples of Barbados and Guyana, some of the latter’s nationals choosing to come and live or work on a contract basis in the island.
Gibson’s thesis, as she outlined in her presentations on the programme, basically alleges that people of East Indian descent in Guyana, particularly now there is an “Indian” government as she contends, will mean trouble and oppression for Guyanese of African descent. She blatantly said Africans are being targeted and murdered in Guyana, or words to that effect, among other falsehoods, in said programme. Her exact words may be checked by perusing the programme in your library.The whole thrust of her presentations directly or inferentially portrayed Indo- Guyanese and the present administration as being bent on oppressing and discriminating against Afro-Guyanese. Gibson presented no scholarly evidence of these allegations. There is none. Indeed, Gibson’s book has no scholarly basis and was rejected by a number of publishing houses to which it was submitted. As established by serious and reputable analysts (See for example “Rebuttal to Kean Gibson” http:www.guyanajournal.com/gibson_rebuttal_2.html) the book is riddled with subjective, irrational, personal and false views. On that level alone, the Consulate asks why should it have been deemed worthy of discussion in an otherwise interesting and worthwhile programme such as Book Talk ?
Barbadian law prohibits the public stirring up of racial hatred and other inflammatory views to create discord among races. Yet here we have a person being given a platform by a government run TV station to air and give succour to what may be justifiably interpreted as just those illegal and undesirable practices. It has nothing to do with “freedom of speech”. The fact that the two gentlemen were invited to offer a rebuttal is of no consequence. They made some good points, especially Mr.Clark, though I would have offered other information with a different emphasis. Strangely, the Consulate, which is the premiere source for services and knowledge about the Guyana government’s programmes and philosophy, was not invited to send a resource person. Further, since it would have been known by the programme’s organisers that Gibson frequently refers to Hindu religious theology and practices in her allegations, no one from the two Hindu temples in Barbados were apparently invited.
Those proffering inflammatory views and falsehoods when it comes to a racial situation should not be given a platform. They have no freedom of speech. When I worked and studied in Toronto in the 1970s, I joined with the campaign to try and prevent the (late) racist William Shockley from giving a talk at Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto. I marched in a demonstration outside the Hall. It will be recalled that Dr. Shockley’s theory is that people of African descent are genetically inferior to whites. Further, I fully support the correct stand of those who in recent days protested against the prestigious Oxford Student Union at Oxford University in the UK in allowing the convicted Holocaust denier David Irving as well as Nick Griffin, a leader of the far right (British) National Front Party, which among other neo-fascist stances, calls for the deportation of people of colour including those from Guyana and the Caribbean region from the UK.
I was also disappointed in the way the Book Talk host’s handled the programme. Instead of simply permitting the participants to present views in an orderly and reasonably time frame, he came across as being a panelist himself and appeared to be arguing at some times against the submissions of Clarke and Commissiong. He appeared to be prompting Gibson to offer other information , though of course no one is saying this otherwise excellent host in other programmes and displaying professional and tolerant views in other public areas of endeavour was supporting said Gibson’s views. Gibson “hogged” the show. She had a disproportionate amount of time to peddle her hateful rhetoric. She should never have been on the show or the book discussed.
I know you personally as general manager would not be responsible for the invitations sent out for the said Book Talk or any other programme on the station.. I further commend you for, as far as I know, initiating the really excellent programmes about Caribbean immigrants in the UK aired on CBC -TV and which you so ably presented. I trust that you will look into the airings of the said Book Talk programme. The delay in writing to you about this matter is regretted but unavoidable due to other commitments.
Accept Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.
NORMAN R. FARIA
(Guyana’s Honorary Consul in Barbados)
Related StoriesIndian Racism Against Afro Guyanese In Guyana Can Indians And Blacks Co-exist In Barbados?
Can Barbados Avoid Escalating Crime & Violence In Neighbouring Trinidad & Guyana?