If you call my brother a slave I shall answer you.

The Guyanese culture is a layered thing with many folds in which to hide weapons. It has become cultural for us to hurt each other. But I’ve found that the weapon which hurts a man the most is a single word carefully aimed at his heart. One word can rob a man of self, reason and hope.

What moves a man or woman among us to hurt his brother in such a manner? I believe the answer is fear. The fear cultivated by the political machinery.

It is this deep rooted fear which no doubt causes an Indian man to call his Black brother a slave. If it is one thing our political culture has programmed us to do, it’s to hurt each other, instinctively, in the worst possible way.

The grassroots politics does not encourage education for us Indians, at least, not the sort of education that enlightens the mind and makes it an independent entity. If it did, no doubt the sort of Indian who calls his brother a slave would understand the magnitude of what he has done. And hopefully, having understood what it is he is doing would desist from hurting his brother in such a way. Miseducation is a terrible, terrible thing. It takes a man down dark paths where he loses himself and his honour.

And of my miseducated Indian brother, I ask only this: hear these words so that you may understand just how unjust you have been to your Black brother. Even now, I do not understand why they insist on calling it the system of slavery. It is more accurate to speak of the enslavement of your brother for that is the truth. He was enslaved; robbed of freedom, home, family, culture, religion and identity, some of the very things you were able to keep. Tell me, why would you want to hurt a brother who has found a home here with you? Who shares a home with you?

So do not call him a slave so that you may establish that false superiority the grassroots machinery has continued to feed you. Do not call him a slave as if it were his choice or as if it were his weakness that caused him to suffer such a terrible, terrible fate. Understand that when you call him a slave, you expose only yourself and the system which has sought to enslave you using some of the very things you were able to keep. This system has made a shroud of culture and religion for your mind.

And know this too, when you call my brother, our brother, a slave then I shall answer you. Because when he answers for himself, you accuse him of being angry and bitter and buried in the past. Of what will you accuse me? Of not having defended the Indian against the equally hurtful “coolie”? There is no need for me to defend the Indian, to defend myself, because I am sure my brother shall answer for me like I answer for him.

Sharing a quick moment with you while I’m on the go.

4 thoughts on “If you call my brother a slave I shall answer you.

  1. I agree that words, when well chosen, can be more destructive than weapons.

    I would also like to clarify an ambiguous statement: “Tell me, why would you want to hurt a brother who has found a home here with you?” The reader unfamiliar with Guyana’s history can get the impression that enslaved Africans arrived in Guyana after the East Indians, when in fact the opposite had occurred. This fact of history has also been a source of bitterness.

    1. Rose, I see how the ambiguity can cause issues. But I only meant that the enslaved African found a home here with the Indian, I didn’t mean to imply that the latter arrived first. Rather, I meant that a home was built with the Indians after their arrival. Thank you. I’ll have to keep these things clear.

  2. Yes, I also see that as an issue with the insightful renderings of steps you laid out; Rather it should have read, “Tell me, why would you want to hurt a brother who you have founded a home here with?” To the average reader, uninformed of our historical raveling in Guyana, it would leave the reader with an understanding that blacks were hosted or accommodated or payed homage to by Indians who were their kind host. This chronology could be found in many of our archives of historical facts. For the accurate read in such sensitive writing challenges, accuracy being the protagonist, the theme of your writing is not lost. I am attracted mostly however, to your clear eyed focus on what’s eating our Guyana, yours and mine.

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