Little Guyana, an Indo-Guyanese enclave in Queens

Little Guyana, an Indo-Guyanese enclave in Queens

October 9, 2014 – Washington Post

Nobody told me about Little Guyana, a mile-plus-long stretch in the Richmond Hill neighborhood of Queens where the residents are Indian but sound like Bob Marley when they speak.

I discovered it by accident when I fell asleep on the A train, passed up my intended destination and was awakened by a fellow passenger telling me that the train had reached its last stop. The people here, known as Indo-Guyanese, are mainly descendants of indentured servants who were recruited from India (often by deceptive tactics) to work on the sugar plantations of present-day Guyana — formerly known as British Guiana — starting in 1838, when the British abolished black slavery in their colonies.  

I was surprised to learn that the Guyanese are New York’s fifth-largest immigrant group, according to American Community Survey figures reported by multiple media outlets. It’s probably safe to say that many, if not most, Americans know little or nothing about Guyana, a small nation on the northeast coast of South America, although some may recall the 1978 Jonestown atrocity, in which cult leader Jim Jones persuaded (or forced) more than 900 of his followers to commit suicide by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid in the agrarian utopia he’d founded in that country. [read more]

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  • Albert  On October 14, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Bring back memories of my days in New York. The area is better known as Richmond Hill. I visited Liberty Ave frequently. Almost everything you want Guyanese could be found there. My doctor (George Jhagroo) has his regularly pack store front office on the Avenue. Dr. Jhagroo always had a 5 min chat about his beloved Guyana with a quick turn over of patients.
    A few India Indians also have stores with more India imports… Curry in various brands and flavor. THe best Roti shop was owned by a Trini. You could pick up dozens quickly but he added too much salt. The place for roti was the “Roti Shop” in Brooklyn. There are some guys who made money but remained in the area and just extended their houses a bit.
    A Guyanese broker who made millions dishonestly, lived there. He is now in jail. A few crooked New York politicians, who took some of his money, may join him soon.

  • compton de castro  On October 15, 2014 at 4:59 am

    Excellent news ….catch em jail em….!
    However the ‘ones that got away’ should also be hunted down
    and removed before they spread their viruses…..
    Ebola and AIDS of our beautiful world.

  • gigi  On October 17, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    I shop here almost once a month with my husband and oldest daughter. They like the markets and the foods. My husband has ruined my mauby experience by insisting on buying the concentrate to make mauby that he gorges on. I dislike the concentrated stuff and the ready availability. Mauby like sorrel used to be a special drink in our household. What sometimes disgust me is cheese roll and salara that have very little cheese and very little coconut. Really? They’re charging more for it here and they think they can sell substandard products because Guyanese are some how “desperate” for the stuff. No! We are not! My sister who lives in Texas visited me last year and I took her shopping there. She took back Guyanese stuff for her husband to try – he’s Scottish American. I’m always surprised by the number of white people who loves curry. Last year I took my family there for Phagwa. It was my first Phagwa since immigrating to America. We had so much fun.

    Myself and my kids identify our race as Asian even though we know that it puts us at a disadvantage, academic wise. Asians are held to higher academic standards than Whites, Hispanics and Blacks. I told them to do this because I saw it as motivation. My 18 year old is on a full scholarship at a very competitive college. As for myself, all the teacher exams I’ve taken so far I’ve only had to take once to pass – both in Florida and now NY, even though the grading standard is higher for Asians. According to research, most Hispanic and Black teachers usually have to retake theses exams several times before passing despite the lower grading standards.

    Great article. Thanks for posting

  • compton de castro  On October 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    ‘Asians are held to higher academic standards
    than whites Hispanics and blacks’

    Sorry but it does read ‘superiority complex’ !
    There are dull and bright academics in all races.
    What is more acceptable scientific fact….
    People of mixed blood are more intelligent
    than pure blooded ones.
    Academia is not necessarily intelligence !

    Do the research …you will find the answer.
    Telling your children that somehow they are
    expected to be superiodr intellectually is silly.
    especially because they are Asians.
    Come on you cant be serious ! Surely ?

    America is the land of the free and brave but
    if it is also the land of the ‘superior’..then ..america
    is screwed up….isn’t that what Hitler told her German
    Que sera sera

  • Malcolm Heydorn  On October 21, 2014 at 12:22 am

    My Most Venerable Gigi,

    I must admit that I rarely read such rubbish as this. If indeed by implication you are one of the superior teachers in the area, then God help America. I wonder how many Indian Guyanese identify themselves as Asian, and what must they think about their heritage? Please don’t make me laugh.

  • Christina  On November 2, 2014 at 9:54 am

    So, reading this article really upset me. Whoever wrote this did very little research on his own about Guyana. The Bob Marley comment was out of line, and not to mention he somehow missed a huge part of the population! Apparently there are no black Guyanese people according to him. How can anyone Guyanese celebrate this garbage article. The write could have done a basic search on Google and wrote a better article.

    • Albert  On November 2, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      Christina you have to accept the writer was just passing through and he wrote what he observe from that temporary casual visit. I went there about once weekly and dont recall seeing an Afro Guyanese living there. In someways our accent (at least many) have a similar sound to that of Bob Marley. Nothing to be serious about.

      • Christina  On November 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

        Guyanese people do not sound like Bob Marley, and on the contrary I find that offensive because if you ask the average American anything on the West Indies/ Caribbean you will most definitely hear something about Jamaica from them. I would like to get away from that because as we both know, Jamaica does not solely make up the West Indian countries.

        And yes, I completely understand that he was passing through, but there was information that he wrote believing to be true that was completely wrong.
        “Despite being from South America, the Guyanese are not Latino. Nor are they black, white or East Asian. So, what are they?”
        Yes, I get that Indo-Guyanese people is what he mainly saw. But what I’m saying is that he definitely knew why there are people of Indian decent in Guyana as it was mentioned earlier in the article that indentured servitude replaced African labor. I’m wondering if he believes that the Afro-Guyanese people vanished, because there was no mention after that.

        Understand how one would feel as someone of mostly Afro-Guyanese decent that in an article on a major news site said there were no black people in the country. Last time I checked, Guyana is known as the land of 6 peoples. So honestly, the writer came out of this place believing that Guyana is a nation made of solely Indian people.

        Understand that there is a difference between what’s simply an observation, and giving completely wrong information. He was obviously misled by someone, and did not even take the time to do a little research on his own to ensure a fair article.

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