There is beauty and strength in diversity

first_imgDear Editor,It is an interesting dialogue on identity that has surfaced. As a youth I embraced being a member of each race in Guyana via my family history and would easily identify with our country’s motto. It was not until leaving to study in the States that I was given ethnic boxes to select. “Select your ethnicity” was the request. Never in Guyana was this question asked. Based on our family’s history I would easily choose all 5/6 races/people of our nation (no one distinguished between those from Portugal and other parts of Europe on their forms) thus 5 would be chosen. It never came to mind to neglect parts of my family’s history. It was not until I came back home that I noticed the increased separation between each race of Guyana. This new environment being rooted in what many say are our harsh political realities.When I first heard Afro Guyanese this made me smile and think if you have an Afro your with that group, Indo Guyanese (what am I into doing?), if you are making a dollar now you are Amerindian, if you eat Chinese food you are Chinese, if you cook with ghee you are from Portugal, etc… It was a childish perspective that we use to share in a respectful manner. The school child in each of us use to establish a nice base for friendly interaction and the building of long & strong relationships.However, from watching and listening I quickly came to realize that the topic of race in our nation has escalated in sensitivity to the point where the harmless jokes of our youth are no longer acceptable and are frowned upon. Many of these jokes have even morphed into a very disrespectful tone and manner. Now many Guyanese prefer an individual to identify with only one ethnic/racial group. To a larger extent mutual understanding and respect has left our shores. The recent past has taken unity and significantly broken the linkages we fondly shared.On the other hand, given the young age of our Nation we still have a good opportunity before us to restart our interracial interactions from a position of mutual respect for each other, where we take the time to listen to each other and then “treat others the way they would like to be treated”. That’s correct, the way they would like to be treated and not the way you or I would like to be treated when interacting with another ethnic group. After all one man’s meat is another man’s poison, and to keep this in mind allows for the eventual return of civility and the deescalation of the racial tension & racial violence currently throughout our nation.There is beauty and strength in diversity and that’s why our motto continues to be the foundation upon which we are still trying to build. The strength of one may be the weakness of another and understanding how to create a highly functional, effective and successful team to form a stronger & more beautiful mosaic that is Guyana continues to be our beautiful country’s ambition.Best regards,Jamil Changleelast_img

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