To be hidden away like a botched tattoo or a drunken mistake.It is an illustration of how the poorest members of Indian society spoke when English was first forced upon them.It is often just easier to provide an answer that people can easily understand rather than undertake the laborious process of explaining the geographic quandary of being brown but not directly from South Asia.
The first person to console me after my first bout of colonial trauma. As though in that moment our hearts were screaming: This is a phenomenon that I know is common to the immigrant experience overall: this sense of comfort one feels when they find one of their own in situations where they are confronted by their otherness.
It is a comfort that I have continued to seek since that day in 1995.
I spoke “properly” and did all of the things my parents thought I had to do in order to be American. For the first time I started looking for people who looked like me.
They told me that this “American” heritage belonged to me and, yet, at the age of five I had been so harshly excluded from what I thought was my own village. I remember being desperately confused and looking frantically around the classroom.
From the long voyage by ship from pre-partitioned India to the British West Indies, to the brief voyage by flight from Guyana to JFK International Airport, my identity carries with it the weight of two migrations. The first undertaken by forced detention, the second by way of a stamped visa.
Sometimes, I refer to myself as simply “Indian” even though many South Asians would not regard me as such.
Indians comprise the largest ethnic group in Guyana, with Africans following closely as the second largest ethnic group.
My family is a multiracial one—I have Indian, African, and Chinese ancestry.
Despite having this rich, multicultural background, my Indian heritage has played the largest role in both my upbringing and my understanding of myself.
It is the heritage that governs the traditions that I’ve grown up with, and that inform my decisions with respect to who I identify as my cultural kin.
These were practices that resulted from the realization of the desperate need to replace lost slave labor in an expedient manner subsequent to the abolition of slavery. between the Indo-Guyanese and the Afro-Guyanese has endured throughout the development of Guyanese history—well after independence from Britain and right up to the most recent Guyanese presidential elections in 2015.