CHRISTMAS has always been touted as a time for family and belonging, but I can’t help thinking about all the trauma this year has faced and at least spare my thoughts for the families affected.
This is my column before Christmas, and while I want to integrate my column with the rest of the warm and perhaps cheerful stories in this edition of the Pepperpot, I am mentally incapable of doing so.
Last week a mother admitted hitting her six-year-old with a piece of wood. The child was left in an unconscious state and the mother fled the scene. The child, on Tuesday, was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). A few days before, a man burned his wife and two young children to death. These are just two recent events, following a flood of such events only this year.
I’ve always been aware of the ‘bliss’ of the Christmas season; the enchanting feeling brought about by the fairy lights and the ‘fancy’ decorations, food and goodies, and whatever was in the air that made everything seem so beautiful. I don’t feel that this year.
What I feel is this eerie sense of pain and trauma, drawn from the violence against vulnerable individuals – women and children. I think of the families in pain, suffering from these traumas. And if there’s anything I’m sure about, we have to do better.
Guyana has a pervasive culture of silence that helps to empower perpetrators, who are more often than not men. Aggravating this is that we are incorporating these perpetrators by blaming victims instead of blaming criminals. But it is more than what a man does or does not do. Recently, women’s rights activist Danuta Radzik linked that the root causes of these events include gender inequality, sex discrimination and the social system of patriarchy.
I see activists and other social workers working day to day and trying their best to create a safer Guyana for vulnerable groups, but then events like these happen and I try to imagine the kind of resilience there is’ n they must possess it to continue to push against oppression. system.
I think there’s a lot about the strained racial and ethnic relations that were emphasized this year as well. I wonder how prejudices, stereotypes, prejudices and perceptions proliferated our social spaces (including social media). As we wind down to Christmas, what relationships are strained or even damaged? And do we fade for a while and then go back to where it is all “right”, at least on the surface? Or are we ready to engage in conversations where we can listen and learn from one another, and allow ourselves to improve and possibly unify unity?
I think it’s important for us to recognize that these issues are not isolated problems. They are part of an inherent system of inequalities, informed not only by race and ethnicity, but also by class and gender.
And while I believe that decision makers and policy makers have a role to play, I also believe as individuals there are approaches we can take, especially those of us who are more knowledgeable. We have to try to talk to our family members, friends, and community members about things we see happening, even if it may be uncomfortable and difficult at first.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, playing the same tune week after week, but I really believe that dialogue has a part to play in our efforts to “do better.” Dialogue helps us talk about prejudices, stereotypes, prejudices and wrong perceptions. It also helps to empower us all because it provides not only a safe place for us to be heard, but also a safe place to listen and learn.
I hope this Christmas when we are with our loved ones that we can think about all the pain and trauma this year and think about how we can do better going forward.
Before I go, lest we forget, Joel and Isaiah Henry (“Henry’s boys”) and Haresh Singh were horribly murdered a few months ago, and the criminals have not yet been brought to justice. I hope we can share our thoughts about those families and what they must be feeling right now.
If you would like to discuss this column or any of my previous writings, please feel free to contact me by email: [email protected]