I write to applaud Guyanese Americans who rallied against racism earlier this month in Richmond Hill, Queens, dubbed as “Little Guyana” and other protests. The Richmond Hill rally condemned police violence against minorities (people of colour) that drew global attention following the police killing of Black American George Floyd in Minneapolis; hundreds of (Indo) Guyanese reside in that city since the early 1970s. There is a moral commitment to support against racism and injustice because Guyanese are also victims.
The anti-racism rally at Independence Square, Liberty Avenue (what a name) was organized by community advocate Vishnu Mahadeo of the NY-based Guyana Diaspora Council.
People from different groups were brought together under one umbrella thanks to the work and leadership of Mahadeo and others. These different ethnic groups perceive each other positively and they cooperate and interact with one another with the hope of lifting lives in the community. The organizers and speakers spoke out against police violence because they feel obligated to do so, an issue of human value in which minorities were killed attacked by some police officers whose lives were not under threat.
The George Floyd protests have evolved into a movement against racism and police brutality against people of colour all across America.
The Richmond Hill speakers also condemned protesters who were involved in looting, arson, and vandalism. Properties and thriving businesses, belonging to Indians, Blacks, Asians, and other minorities were destroyed by looters. While praising those who were involved in protest rallies against racism in America and supported the struggle for racial equality, Mahadeo and other speakers condemned the violence. He also appealed for support from the Indo-Caribbean community in America in the struggle against racism and violence perpetrated by law enforcement.
Mahadeo, Dr. Dhanpaul Narine, and other speakers were strong in their condemnation of racism in America. They urge the Indo-Caribbean community to be sensitive to and support the intense feelings regarding the police killings of people of colour. They called for just policing, an end to racial prejudice and racial disparities that exist throughout institutions in America. The killing of Floyd and several other use of force by police against minorities, including an Indian American in the South, have sparked conversations among Americans and even internationally on police use of force especially against minorities in the US. There is institutionalized state sanctioned racism in America in which people of colour are victims; even some people of colour are racist towards other people of colour. Indians and Asians, for example, are the target of attacks of other minorities for being a model community. Government has not been able to successfully redress the negative feelings, perceptions, thoughts, beliefs of groups of people against others particularly immigrants of colour like Guyanese.
It is important for Guyanese living in the US, along with other immigrants, to show support for the current wave of “Black Lives Matter” protests against racism and the police killings. Dr. Narine joined the call for an end of abuses against minorities. Guyanese come to the US and are enjoying the liberty and quality of life and we must give solidarity and support to the struggle against injustice.
Fundamentally changes to tackling systemic racism is needed but Guyanese need to join the coalition against it. Guyanese for example, are denied a legislative seat (in the Council, Assembly, Senate, Congress) in Queens because of gerrymandering practiced by other ethnic groups that make deals amongst themselves to exclude powerless groups. The politicians of other ethnic groups are in charge of drawing up electoral seat boundaries and as such they divide the strong Guyanese communities of Queens into five or six seats diluting the power of their vote to deny them any chance of being elected in any seat.
The Floyd killing and response to it has created a perfect storm to raise issues pertaining to Guyanese. There is a growing sense of commonality among victims of racism and the recognition that this must change. But Queens based Guyanese must immerse themselves in the struggle. They must support those of us involved in the fight for justice, civil rights, people rights, and human rights.
Those who organized the Richmond Hill rally are applauded for his work. More must join this movement for equality.
Dr. Vishnu Bisram
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