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A Singer Called Her Home Country Guyana ‘Poor’ on American TV. Should the Guyanese People Be Upset?

Screenshot of Lisa Punch performing on the ABC show "Rising Star" via YouTube.

Screenshot of Lisa Punch performing on the ABC show “Rising Star” via YouTube.

Singer Lisa Punch‘s success on the ABC show “Rising Star” has not gone unnoticed in her native Guyana. Punch, who recently migrated to the United States with her family, qualified for the second round of the competition after viewers voted for her rendition of Whitney Houston's “How Will I Know” during the premiere episode.

Punch recorded several songs back in Guyana before leaving, and Guyanese have cheered her on from afar. But after she called Guyana “poor” during an interview with the show's judges, some Guyanese have also criticized her on social media for not presenting the country's best face to the world. 

The singer told the judges, “Guyana is a very beautiful country, and it’s also a poor country. The reason we moved to America is because our grandmother wanted a better life for us.”

Guyana, which sits on the northern coast of South America, is indeed home to a beautiful landscape, including tropical rainforests and spectacular waterfalls. The small country struggles with poverty, however, and many of its skilled workers leave to find employment elsewhere.

In light of the flak, others came out in Punch's defense. Andrew Kendall analyzed the burden being placed on Punch by her countrymen and women in the online publication “Insight”: 

As Guyana loses its talented youths to greener pastures because of less than ideal planting ground for some aspects of the arts, are those artists bound to take Guyana’s hopes of being a tourist destination into mind and represent it in a way – sometimes with prevarication – that makes it seem an idyllic paradise? Or as artists do we allow them to share their truth despite how far from the ideal it may be?

Lisa Punch has always been praised for her sincerity and authenticity and one wonders how sincere it would have been for her to pretend her journey to Rising Star had been one without incident. Would we have even liked her more then? As an artist, she can do little else but carve a space for herself in the world by telling her own, personal story.

Videoblogger Anndis Fraser said that Lisa Punch was just being true to reality:

 

Writer and cultural activist Ruel Johnson praised Punch for persevering through difficult circumstances. “What got her to where she is today is sheer hard work, incredible individual talent, unstinting support from her mother and friends, and belief in her own ability to make it,” he wrote. “Instead of decrying her on the basis of some bullshit, delusional positive patriotism, we should be thanking her for acknowledging us at all when this place as a community of people and laws did nothing special for her.”

On Facebook, engineer Clayton Ashford Davenport Lambert saw nothing wrong with what Punch said. “Guyana is a damm [sic] poor country. We may be rich in resources but because of poor governance we live in poverty and a lot of Guyanese leave for betterment,” he wrote.

Support for Punch and excitement about her appearance on the TV competition was strong on Twitter:

Guyanese artist in Brooklyn Abdullaw felt Punch was just stating the obvious:

Guyanese singer Jackie Hanover pointed out a great irony of some of Punch's critics:

In the end, it seems Punch has more fans than detractors — even President of Guyana Donald Ramoutar wrote on Facebook that Guyana is proud of her. However, some will still likely place “the burden of representation” on her as she advances in the competition. The next episode of “Rising Stars” will be on broadcast on ABC on Sunday, July 6 at 9:00 ET. 

53 comments

  • Kwanda Edmondson

    I think you all should understand why some of the Guyanese peeps are criticizing Lisa Punch for saying that Guyana is a poor country. It’s simply because, they don’t know any better ask those same critics what they have contributed to their so loved Guyana to make it a rich country? I am a Guyanese a proud one at that; n that’s because I don’t have a choice I’m an alien in any other country but people need to see past the palm of their hands this is reality wake up. Guyanese people want to be lazy all their lives and the Corruptive system of politics have raped this country. People GUYANA is a fucking poor country. #dont care what anybody say…. I love you Lisa and I’m proud of you don’t let some of those oppressive Guyanese decide your future….

    • Christina Babyboo Ramkaran

      now your fucking crazy to even say that, basically if you don’t work for it then you can’t have it! wtf, when you say Guyanese are lazy just remember your one too, make your fucking comment right, when guyanese migrate they have to work even harder

      • positivethinker

        Christina you are an ass people like you getting this fucking country poorer everyday what the fuck you talking Migrate or not thats the facts Guyana is damn poor dispite who migrate the world know so damn fool

        • Guest

          @disqus_x79oVdyzz2:disqus……… u r the ass…….

    • Raynah Morris

      What? Who lazy? You mean all the hard working people who brought you into this world (i.e the nurses and doctor who delivered you). You mean the dedicated teacher who taught you respect and intellectual knowledge. You mean my diverse and far reaching family tree made in Guyana of doctor, lawyers, nurses, and other hard working people. You mean my grandparents who raised 20 children and built two home with their bare hands. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

  • John Quelch

    Ok, I have never had any reason to say anything on this up to now. First off lemme say that I think this Lisa girl is an amazing singer and her vocal talent is extraordinary. I’ve had the privilege to hear her live and I was very impressed. With that being said, I wish her the best on the show, and I hope she gets the opportunity to realise her dreams.
    Now, on to the matter at hand. Whilst I feel that her actions were somehow guided to appeal to the sympathies of the judges and the American population and! their natural instinct to vote for the poor black girl with a past, I feel a little more tact could have been used. How classless can you get to go on International TV and tell the world that the country you called home for all your life is poor? I feel a rendition of Chris Brown’s new hit coming on…”These **** aint Loyal”….thats just messed up. This country that supported you and nurtured your dreams.
    Guyana isnt perfect and yes, most of our citizens are poverty stricken, and struggling to make a better life for themselves. I could understand if she wanted to take a jab at the management of our resources and the governance and so on, but I think the forum she used was grossly inappropriate and lacked respect. Two things you dont ever ‘bad-mouth’ are your family and your country….those are the things that made you who you are, regardless of situation and/or circumstance. She is in the place she has always wanted to be because everything that has happened to her in her life, leading up to this point, including living and loving life, in this ‘poor’ country!
    I’m scrolling thru and seeing so many people agreeing with her and saying shes right for speaking her truth, and they cant remember that this is the same collective population that threw major shade at that couple who went on Oprah all those years back and said the EXACT SAME THING!! Yall aint ordinary boy, lol….

    • Happy

      Man, you are so full of nonsense. Yes, she mimight have been raised and nurtured in Guyana, but her life experiences dictate her response. What is so wrong with her stating that Guyana is a poor county? Is it an incorrect statement? No! Based on its GDP and other statistical measurements, it is a poor country. Yes, you have a lot of people who are very rich. Many of them got their riches through illegal means. Most citizens in Guyana can barely make it from day to day, and you have the unmitigated gall to put her down for speaking the truth. I can only suppose you have been lying to your friends about Guyana, and now you want her to lie to the American public too.

      Lisa, continue to speak the truth!!!!!

      • Leon Williams

        Classless? umm thousand of AMERICANS living and struggling in america go on these same talent shows and unearth the struggles their states,cities and communities are faced with and these judges and fellow Americans many of whom are very wealthy acknowledges that they are american still struggling and feeling the effects(back lashes) of the economic down turns for the pass 5 years. America a country whose economic viability is a millions times more superior to Guyana’s minuscule economy. And we’re here statistically one of the poorest countries on earth and bashing someone who is speaking facts. I’ve seen so many other contestants come clean about the struggles they faced in their different countries origin and never have a heard its citizens denying the god damn reality.. Most of these comments are indicative of why we are in this mess, because we’re living a lie! Some of you have been indoctrinate by the wrong sources intelligence! but that ain’t me business….

    • paul

      What Lisa did was bring light to this country of ours. She did say Guyana is beautiful which is the truth and she did say Guyana is poor which is the truth. Google poorest countries in the world and Guyana is one of those countries. What she wants people to know is that you can come from a poor country or be the poorest in the world and still make something of yourself. You said she ain’t loyal. Were you a loyal fan when she had her mini shows in Guyana trying to make money? Were you one who helped her reach where she is? When she sang for big events in Guyana and getting paid US$100 ? Sometimes not being paid at all. Most of the people she grew up with were poor. She only saw the riches being shared among the rich. Tell me did you help her? Shut the fuck up cause you don’t know shit! It’s her truth! Some people disown Guyana and would never admit they’re Guyanese. She said she’s Guyanese and she brought light on the poverty of Guyana that MOST people live in. Now the world will see that and help Guyana.

    • G-master Guess

      @John Queltch….so this is what its comes to? People can’t speak their right? Yo…I love guyana! Hell anyone that knows me! Wether by Stephen, stevo, mr. Chung, or GUE$$! Can tell you this! See im an American born guyanese through both parents and from since the age of two to now I’ve been going to Guyana every year sometimes every other month! I’m 27 years of age now so you can only imagine my passport hahaha..but by many standards my friend guyana is poor! My friend and fellow artist Lisa punch..has not said a damn thing wrong…when you look up tourist attractions in the world guyana is not there! Not saying that guyana don’t have nice places people from other parts of the world wouldn’t enjoy but lets stay true to our selves here..guyana wouldn’t be in their top ten vocational spot, yes guyana has so many natural resources & so on…but when even the people with power are oblivious to this and how to use these resources properly! You can only expect what we’re getting right now for a country….all lisa did was spoke in short the struggling she and many other people have to face in guyana…did you see the footage they played on the show? With all them run down houses? To us guyanes people…thats normal..cause you’ll see houses like that on every stretch of dirt…in America that is considered poverty! And in most places houses like that wouldn’t fly here…so y’all dont come down on lisa for stating the obvious.

    • Raynah Morris

      The following Caribbean countries are considered poor: Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, Haiti. We all poor. When are we as people gonna learn that by hiding the truth about our countries, family, and people who live there is not doing right by anybody. She said though Beautiful we are Poor. She move for a better life. You don’t know the hell or problem people live in and are in place to judge. For all you know she is eating tennis and cheese or sugar wata and a piece of bread. So if she live in poverty, and those around her, she can only report her truth. Last of all, one thing I have learned about the media is that they spin things the way they want. They don’t report things exactly how you tell them.

    • Dianne

      Everyone keeps harping at “Guyana is Poor…” but before she said it was a beautiful place. Therefore, sometimes words get in the way, but what was said, is nothing far from the truth, and it is her personal experience. She was not asked to speak on behalf of the Guyanese population.

    • Donna

      The Guyanese seem to be doing a good job on their own to stop tourism. My father is Guyanese,I visited Bartica from Great Britain and was spat on and cussed at by a young man.very hospitable!

      • clarence rickford

        Donna, please accept our apology for the act commit by that young man, yes we were known to be most hospitable country within the region, but somehow for an unknown reason/s and at a fast rate we are departing. the latest being at the residence of the USA out-going Ambassador by our acting Foreign Affairs Minister.

    • Bonny Brent

      john quelch ur a fool shut up Guyana is poor very poor u must b a ppp fool

  • Prince Jp

    I am an artiste in Guyana and im very proud of Lisa. Smfh . Thats the problem here in Guyana , You cant be open and express truth. Imagine this is talent being exposed worldwide , before we cheer on and support its bare drama. Keep up the good works Lisa. Guyana is beautiful and yes indeed its difficult here and the girl is right in her statements.Case closed. All the best Lisa.

    • Christina Babyboo Ramkaran

      your music even sucks so don’t even call yourself a singer caused your not even recognize

      • David

        Christian shut the fuck up wat u knw about music the fuckn soup should choke u wen u drinking it

        • Bonny Brent

          This stupid PPP hate munger fucking donkey Guyana is nasty poor country because is the PPP crabs that run the fucking country to the ground this bitch is stupid dal & rice fufuck u botch

  • Robin Mathura

    Guyana is POOR!!! STOP hating her and support her and your POOR county. She is going to make it popular. Jokers.

  • Raynah Morris

    Let’s be real. Even though Guyana nice, as most countries in the Caribbean are, the natives know the condition of which people live in. Just to save face we should not lie and say it is is the riches country even though we have been exploited for our resources. We don’t even accurately portrait the diversity of the country when we get the chance (i.e one of the latest documentaries). Leave the girl alone. She’s speaking her truth we all know ours.

  • Leon Williams

    Classless? umm thousand of AMERICANS living and struggling in america go on these same talent shows and unearth the struggles their states,cities and communities are faced with and these judges and fellow Americans many of whom are very wealthy acknowledges that they are american still struggling and feeling the effects(back lashes) of the economic down turns for the pass 5 years. America a country whose economic viability is a millions times more superior to Guyana’s minuscule economy. And we’re here statistically one of the poorest countries on earth and bashing someone who is speaking facts. I’ve seen so many other contestants come clean about the struggles they faced in their different countries origin and never have a heard its citizens denying the god damn reality.. Most of these comments are indicative of why we are in this mess, because we’re living a lie! Some of you have been indoctrinate by the wrong sources intelligence! but that ain’t me business….

    Regards

  • Pastor Trevor F.H Tobin

    Oh Yes … wish there were more like Lisa.. she spoke the truth.. we are blessed with lots on resources but were seldom benefit from them.. we are a poor country..

  • Odnlele Fillips

    Oh don’t mind me… i’m just here to read the comments… so tell me again how Guyana is not a poor country…

  • Dolly Bill

    lisa punch is speaking from her point of view……. but she should remember guyana is her home country

  • Claire Fraser

    She spoke the truth. For those of you who are upset should work to make it better. I will love to go back to my homeland to be of service to make it better.

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