Saturday, March 4, 2017

Dear White America (and Minority America to Some Extent)

When I was a child growing up in underdeveloped Guyana I became enamored with your country. This love for America and of things America was the result of my exposure to the chief purveyors of your values, namely American cinema, American novels, and the American media. Years of such exposure instilled in my mind a hatred of the texture of my hair, of my skin color, of my accent, of my nationality, and more. Further, it ingrained in my mind that the indigenous Americans were savages, black Americans were criminals and servile, and many other negative stereotypes of brown and black-skinned people worldwide. Through these various media white was presented as the excellence of beauty, the excellence of thinking, the excellence of music and art, and the excellence of almost everything else, and like many others in my country and around the world there was that emergent self-loathing. 

And so, as a result, it was the aspiration of people worldwide to come to your country such as my own mother did, spending the rest of her life cleaning your homes and taking care of your children. I saw firsthand how well she treated your children and remember wishing she had treated her own in the same manner. Don't get me wrong; she was a damn good mother. I guess the propaganda had gotten to her also. 

So you attracted the not so fully educated foreigners to your country because your own would not do the kind of menial tasks that these were willing to do, and you also lured away the more fully educated as well, much to the detriment of their own home countries and to the furtherance of your country's well-being. Not only that, but to further your own interests, you made sure that leaders in countries such as mine were individuals who served your interest. And if they didn't they were removed in bloodless coups or rigged elections, or they went the way of Mohammad Mosaddegh, Patrice Lumumba, and Salvador Allende, among others.

And so we come in droves to your country not only because of the romanticized view of your country that we received through the purveyors of your so-called values, but we come in droves also because of our own countries' impoverished economy - impoverishment caused by the inordinate greed of your installed strongmen, by one-sided trade deals disadvantageous to small farmers, or by crippling and suffocating IMF and World bank loans that often include terms such as laying off workers, raising taxes, cutting pensions and government-subsidized services, etc., all with a view to ensuring repayment of the loans rather than to prioritizing development. But we also come in droves to your country because of your proxy wars in our countries (e.g., Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia), wars waged with your bombs and your bullets (since you are the world's largest arms supplier), and wars in which our civilian countrymen and women are the ones most injured and killed.

Today, more and more people are beginning to wake up to the reality that the Emperor wears no clothes. The truth is we want your country to be great. We want to love America. We want the stories of its inherent greatness to be true but not in accordance with the received narrative of decades ago. Frankly, we prefer to stay in our own countries. You can help in this regard by simply not creating the conditions that will cause us to want to flee.

[photo art by Ric Couchman]