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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » THE ORGANIZERS OF NEW YORK CITY’S ANNUAL WEST INDIAN AMERICAN DAY CARNIVAL, ACCUSED OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST NON-TRINIDADIANS!

THE ORGANIZERS OF NEW YORK CITY’S ANNUAL WEST INDIAN AMERICAN DAY CARNIVAL, ACCUSED OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST NON-TRINIDADIANS!

By Jered McCallister—
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City Corrections officer holds Guyana flag high during the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade in 2012. Las week, carnival officials refuted charges their group discriminates against “New Yorkers of Guyanese nationality specifically, and non-Trinidadians generally” when they seek to become members.

BIAS COMPLAINTS TARGET CARNIVAL

West Indian American Day Carnival Association officials, in the midst for preparation for the annual Trinidad and Tobago-rooted festival and parade, are refuting charges that the organization discriminates against non-Trinidadians — and has a special bias against persons from Guyana.

The accusers — the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy, ONE GUYANA USA and Guyana Unity Movement — sent letters of complaint to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Mayor de Blasio charging that “the association demonstrably discriminates against New Yorkers of Guyanese nationality specifically, and non-Trinidadians generally.”

But citing a number of non-Trinidadian members, including some from Guyana, WIADCA President Thomas Bailey said nationality is definitely is not a condition for membership in the organization.

“In summary, WIADCA, by admission of its president, secretly considers and denies membership to non-Trinidadians; promotes xenophobic sentiments and is openly prejudiced against Guyanese and other nationalities,” read on of the discrimination accusations, which include the denial of Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy President Rickford Burke’s application to become a WIADCA member and other charges. Burke said he was denied because he’s Guyanese.

Burke said after he worked as a WIADCA volunteer for several years, starting in 2011, and applied for membership. But after a bureaucratic runaround, Burke said he was rejected – and claimed he was denied because of his Guyanese heritage. But Bailey strongly denies the claims.

West Indian American Day Carnival Association President Thomas said nationality is not a criterion for membership, adding that an applicant's character and ability to assist the organization are deciding factors.JEFF BACHNER/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

West Indian American Day Carnival Association President Thomas said nationality is not a criterion for membership, adding that an applicant’s character and ability to assist the organization are deciding factors.

“We are being accused of something we didn’t do,” said the WIADCA president said, noting Burke’s application for membership was denied after a vote in January and his nationality was never a factor. “This was based on one’s character and one’s ability to assist the association moving forward.”

Because this dispute may end up in litigation, Bailey said he could not disclose “the nature of the discussion relevant to the membership” application of Burke, but the conversation was certainly not about nationality, he said firmly. “There was no discriminating discussion.”

A WIADCA spokesperson – recalling the service former long-time Guyanese member, the late Gloria Brathwaite Hope of Guyana and others – admitted that a majority of the board and the general members are of Trinidadians descent, but said there is a mix.

About one-third or the board and 40 percent of the general membership are non-Trinidadians, with Guyanese individuals among them. There are currently no Guyanese serving on the 15- member board, but “there will be soon,” she said adding that there is also a Guyanese member of the group’s advisory board.

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