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:
Lisa punch on every channel in #Guyana
— IG:Kareem_kjd (@KrizzyJay) June 25, 2014
I'm proud of you lisa punch just keep being lisa Guyana is with you girl you make us scream shout cry but mostly proud we love you — wynette moses (@moses226) June 24, 2014
@LisaPunch Good luck tonight girl. We're all over Guyana supporting you. The World will know Lisa Punch Let's Go #TeamPunch
— Cowenzilla™ (@The_Cowen) junio 23, 2014
Guyanese artist in Brooklyn Abdullaw felt Punch was just stating the obvious:
I spend most of the day defending Lisa punch. Guyana is a poor country and somehow I can't that #Tellitlikeitis. No punch intended
— ABDULLAW (@ABDULLAW) junio 23, 2014
Guyanese singer Jackie Hanover pointed out a great irony of some of Punch's critics:
Some of yall talking down Lisa Punch for sayin Guyana poor and yall thiefing wifi to update those statuses…but… http://t.co/QF4EEfqhay
— Jackie Hanover (@JackieHanover) junio 23, 2014
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.
why target Lisa for saying what is public knowledge. didn’t a Caricom Leader also express similar view. are the finding of agencies of the international community based in Guyana not stating the same about Guyana and by whose reports we are afforded debts write-off and aids ( not the disease) the problem with Guyana is that we need to delink our views from race and loyalty to political party and called a spade a spade. Guyana is poor, while some in authority rides to riches on the back it citizens
She is so right, but should be honest in saying who (Burham) made it poor.
I wonder: how come the current party can’t take it to the next level? Just wondering. Surinamese gal here.
Which Caribbean country is “rich?”
She should have added crime-ridden and rampant corruption. And yes, “poor” in more ways than one.
YES HER COMMENT WAS SPOT ON BUT LOOK UP WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE POVERTY OF GUYANA AND YOU WILL SEE ITS THE POLITICAL PARTY SHE SUPPORTS.
THE PNC/APNU DICTATORSHIP OF 28 YEARS REDUCED GUYANA TO THE POOREST IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE….1964-1992
GUYANA DOLLAR WAS $2 TO $1 US DOLLAR AFTER INDEPENDENCE IN 1966 AND BY 1992 IT WENT UP TO $185 TO $1 US DOLLARS AND $2.5 BILLION DOLLARS IN DEBTS.
THAT DICTATORSHIP ENDED IN 1992 AND UNDER THE PPP GOVT GUYANA WAS THE FASTEST GROWING ECONOMY IN THE CARIBBEAN AND MAINTAIN ECONOMIC GROWTH FOR NINE CONSECUTIVE YEARS 2005-2014
THANKS TO LISA PUNCH POLITICAL CONTACTS WITH THE PREVIOUS DICTATORSHIP GOVT WHO RIGGED THEMSELVES BACK INTO OFFICE MAY 11yh, 2015 SHE CONTROVERSIALLY WON THE MISS GUYANA WORLD AND IN CHINA IN NOVEMBER 2015 REPRESENTING GUYANA.
IN CHINA HER ILLITERATE SELF WAS EXPOSED WHEN SHE SAID LATIN AMERICAN WAS ONE OF THE SIX RACES IN GUYANA
WHO HEARD LISA SAID LATIN AMERICANS ARE A RACE IN GUYANA
SHE WAS GIVEN THE CROWN BY THE DEFACTO PNC APNU GOVT
WHO MADE GUYANA POOR????