West Indian Day Carnival Association Accused of Discrimination

Submitted by the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy
The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)

The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)

NEW YORK: The New York Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has expressed concern about discrimination, based on national origin, by the West Indian Day Carnival Association (WIADCA). WIADCA’s board of directors is almost exclusively Trinidadian. […]The association has long been perceived as closed to non-Trinidadians.

CGID said some members of WIADCA’s board harbor anti-Guyanese sentiments. “They openly express anti-Guyanese prejudices and opposition to non-Trinidadians joining the organization. They express fears that “outsiders will come in and takeover’,” CGID alleged.

Discriminatory statements were allegedly made by some members of the association’s board after a Guyanese applied for membership. WIADCA subsequently wrote advising the applicant that board members are prohibited from disclosing internal discussions during the consideration of the application.

CGID in a statement Tuesday blasted the prohibition, saying “The prohibition demonstrates a lack of transparency. It is also an acknowledgment that the secret process for the consideration of the application cannot withstand scrutiny. It is preposterous for an organization whose existence depends on public funding and support to harbor board members with the segregationist views alleged.”

The Institute said WIADCA bears full responsibility for the perpetuation of discrimination in its name. It contended that the association’s insularity and divisive shenanigans have fractured the fabric of the Caribbean-American community. CGID, a rights and advocacy outfit, posited that other nationalities have also complained about being sidelined and of prejudicial treatment from WIADCA.

WIADCA

NEW YORK: The New York Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has expressed concern about discrimination, based on national origin, by the West Indian Day Carnival Association (WIADCA). WIADCA’s board of directors is almost exclusively Trinidadian. The association has long been perceived as closed to non-Trinidadians.

CGID said some members of WIADCA’s board harbor anti-Guyanese sentiments. “They openly express anti-Guyanese prejudices and opposition to non-Trinidadians joining the organization. They express fears that “outsiders will come in and takeover’,” CGID alleged.

Discriminatory statements were allegedly made by some members of the association’s board after a Guyanese applied for membership. WIADCA subsequently wrote advising the applicant that board members are prohibited from disclosing internal discussions during the consideration of the application.

CGID in a statement Tuesday blasted the prohibition, saying “The prohibition demonstrates a lack of transparency. It is also an acknowledgment that the secret process for the consideration of the application cannot withstand scrutiny. It is preposterous for an organization whose existence depends on public funding and support to harbor board members with the segregationist views alleged.”

The Institute said WIADCA bears full responsibility for the perpetuation of discrimination in its name. It contended that the association’s insularity and divisive shenanigans have fractured the fabric of the Caribbean-American community. CGID, a rights and advocacy outfit, posited that other nationalities have also complained about being sidelined and of prejudicial treatment from WIADCA.

WIADCA receives funding from corporations, elected officials and government agencies who sponsor the association’s Labor Day parade each year. “Their alleged discrimination on the basis of national origin, therefore, presents a serious liability for sponsors,” CGID noted.

“The issuance of permits for WIADCA’s Labor day Parade is pursuant to statutes that prohibit discrimination. Consequently, CGID intends to engage WIADCA’s sponsors, including City and State officials, on this matter. They risk being perceived as complicit with the association’s insularity if they fail to advocate for institutional reforms and denounce inherent prejudices,” the Institute said.

CGID President, Rickford Burke, a Guyanese, said that is ironic that WIADCA profits tremendously from non-Trinidadians. “They want our money and participation in revenue generating activities. Yet they advocate that we are unworthy of membership. This reality will force non-Trinidadians to reassess their financial and other support for WIADCA,” Burke asserted

He observed that hostility towards Guyanese specifically, and non-Trinidadians generally, must be strongly condemned and vigorously challenged.

Contending that the Guyanese community in the New York metropolitan area is over two 230,000 strong, Burke stressed that “Guyanese do not need WIADCA. To the contrary, WIADCA needs Guyanese!”

He said the Guyanese community is contemplating staging its own “Unity Parade,” in a carnival-like atmosphere, annually. The Guyana Unity parade was launched on June 14, 2015 with a massive march and rally on Church Avenue, Brooklyn, which attracted over 12,000 Guyanese-Americans.

receives funding from corporations, elected officials and government agencies who sponsor the association’s Labor Day parade each year. “Their alleged discrimination on the basis of national origin, therefore, presents a serious liability for sponsors,” CGID noted.

“The issuance of permits for WIADCA’s Labor day Parade is pursuant to statutes that prohibit discrimination. Consequently, CGID intends to engage WIADCA’s sponsors, including City and State officials, on this matter. They risk being perceived as complicit with the association’s insularity if they fail to advocate for institutional reforms and denounce inherent prejudices,” the Institute said.

CGID President, Rickford Burke, a Guyanese, said that is ironic that WIADCA profits tremendously from non-Trinidadians. “They want our money and participation in revenue generating activities. Yet they advocate that we are unworthy of membership. This reality will force non-Trinidadians to reassess their financial and other support for WIADCA,” Burke asserted

He observed that hostility towards Guyanese specifically, and non-Trinidadians generally, must be strongly condemned and vigorously challenged.

Contending that the Guyanese community in the New York metropolitan area is over two 230,000 strong, Burke stressed that “Guyanese do not need WIADCA. To the contrary, WIADCA needs Guyanese!”

He said the Guyanese community is contemplating staging its own “Unity Parade,” in a carnival-like atmosphere, annually. The Guyana Unity parade was launched on June 14, 2015 with a massive march and rally on Church Avenue, Brooklyn, which attracted over 12,000 Guyanese-Americans.

4 comments

  • nonsense parade anyway. people can’t even drink a beer or nuttin wid alcohol. de bands tek too long to get wey duh gine. yuh got to be looking round ‘cos yuh uncomfortable. stupes. can’t cross de street when yuh get outta de train. first time I went all of a sudden I had to lie down pun de ground wid police running wid guns out and shouting ‘get down’. that was it for me.

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  • I went to it once during my almost 3 decades in NY and on seeing how attendees were hemmed in by police barricades I decides that would be the first and last time for me. It was reportedly a great lime back in the late 60s, 70s and 80s, but misbehavior by a small number of attendees cause the authorities to continuously impose restrictions which along with the increasing commercialization has turned off many former attendees.

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  • The insularity of which CGID speaks has been spoken of for years now. So too the Trini close door attitude. Same story in Canada where CARIBANA is concerned. A change of clothes, a changed address does not a changed person make. Till I die I will maintain that Barbadians are the only Caribbean people bothered by the accusation of insularity. That’s why we are the CARI-CLOWNS.

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  • Those Trickidadians, though not as nationalistic as our quondam antagonist the Jamacians, holds a snobbish discontent for anything that their presumed to outshine them in the Caribbean Carnival. You can’t help, but love them Trickidadians though because their somehow think that the authenticity attributed to Carnival originated with them. Oh Lord! Them Trickidadians often give the Jamaicans a run for their money when it comes to this pretensive self-magnification.

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