22nd of January, 2022. Georgetown, Guyana, South AmericaLast updated: January 22, 2022 at 11:12 am
𝗔𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗘𝗽𝗶𝘀𝗼𝗱𝗲 𝗼𝗳 “𝗕𝘂𝗰𝗸 𝗣𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲” 𝗶𝗻 𝗧𝗼𝘄𝗻.
My sisters went for shopping in town today since the younger one rejoined us yesterday to resume school. They decided to stop at Giftland on their way home. As they were exiting the bus, the customer cart was already pushing off towards Gifland. As they crossed over they noticed that the cart had stopped but didn’t think much of it since they had initially decided to walk.
The driver signaled to ask if they’re coming, so after much hesitation, they decided to join. As they headed towards them, they noticed the passengers were laughing and they were certain it was about them. She thought perhaps, they won’t be so brazen to continue in their presence. I mean, why laugh about somebody and they’re right there. They were wrong.
As they got seated, a particular lady laughed harder. The driver looked back, and upon recognizing their ethnicity, he exclaims right in their presence “oh, is buck people, they ain’t know better, all they know about is paddle and canoe.”
He continued to talk about his experiences about “us buck people” condescendingly, how “they does think they duz ga pay” blah blah, “that them only know to walk.” And more skin teeth for the other passengers. My sister asked if he feels he’s better because he knows about this, if he can manage living the “bush” life on his own. The rest got silent. She asked to get put off so they walked in.
Now here’s my problem. I have a teenage sister and I try to make her experiences here as positive as possible. Education and employment compel us to reside here. Nothing else! But I make her aware of the disparaging treatment she can experience in our absence or even with us so she can understand and cope but also learn to disallow such experiences from diminishing her self-image or simply how to handle it in a “civilized” fashion.
I reached out to Giftland Mall and I await on their response because I know there are many Indigenous customers that have and would encounter such experiences. An indigenous customer choosing to walk or not knowing of a service’s arrangements etc is no reason for making it a comedic affair and more so respond so offensively and disrespectfully.
Your duty is simply to treat customers equally, respectfully, and pleasantly, and ensure they all have a great experience. It is a fundamental customer service principle! I don’t expect the driver to be conscious and knowledgeable about cultural tolerance and sensitivity (because many don’t), but it is the duty of the manager to ensure all aspects of their operations are aware of the diverse backgrounds of customers which will patronize their establishment and the fact that none is worth more or less.
I have seen other people cuss out for getting dropped perhaps a half block away from their destination. We Indigenous people would walk like its nothing because what’s the big deal? Its just a couple steps away. I won’t kill for that. But here’s another issue. Our silent treatment of these encounters encourages such people to perpetuate such stereotypes and utter disrespect without fear of any challenge because we a “peaceful” people as we say.
But I challenge you folks to respond differently; not disrespectfully or violently, but confidently articulate and represent yourself. Be bold. Say to their face that they ain’t no better and that we all deserve a fair and respectful treatment.
Georgetown is not my favourite place, but I have managed.