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Commentary, On the Opportunities, success, and vulnerability of the Diaspora

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By

Lear Matthews

The Caribbean diaspora, particularly in the United States, has been successful and accomplished in their adopted home. However, one must not lose sight of the fact that, like their Proximate group, i.e., other “people of color,” they have been labeled among the personae non-grata by those who fear the browning of America. Moreover, their racial/ethnic hue and immigrant status are also targets of a paranoiac “cancel culture” and “replacement theory” syndrome. Such phenomena likely charged the recent mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. It was reported that one of the victims of that shooting is of Guyanese heritage.

According to one expert, the perpetrator of the Buffalo shooting had “pent-up frustrations” triggered by the aforementioned sinister ideology. Mental illness may be an underlying contributing factor, but those who attempt to explain away the brutal, racist acts tend to use this human malady to justify such viciousness. Most people with mental health problems are not violent. Apart from access to dangerous weapons, “mass shootings” are more likely to be ignited by spurious indoctrination, hatred, and prejudice. Some perpetrators are influenced by the rhetoric of “extremists” whose ideology creates a culture of hate, preying upon isolated, disaffected youth. This situation is a hidden dimension of tension and potential endangerment of people in the diaspora. 

In this light, it is essential that “immigrants of color,” like other segments of the population, (1) are aware of the safety and security of their social spaces and (2) develop a critical consciousness about the history and socio-political realities of their adopted home (3) note that within any single culture/society, people have different values (4) should embrace authenticated truths, self-respect and respect for others. However, it must be understood that the general public has the right to protection under the law. Civility, human rights, and inclusion should be reflected in what is taught across racial, political, and ethnic groups, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The intended audience of this commentary – civil society and leadership – is challenged to think carefully about the undergirding reality of ethnic relations and international and political tensions. To deal with them constructively, sometimes it is necessary to figuratively “go to a place” that feels uncomfortable and has difficult conversations. Understanding the experience, influences, trauma, and pain of a group with whom one shares a common space is therapeutic and educational.

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