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State Senator Roxanne Persaud Oral History

Roxanne Persaud, a New York state senator from Brooklyn, left Guyana in 1984, at the age of 17. Her parents and most of her siblings had already emigrated from the country several years before, sponsored to come to America by a nurse aunt. Sen. Persaud, who identifies as Black, reflects on her biracial identity and the word "dougla," which in the Caribbean is a pejorative used to describe people with Indian and African foreparents. She remembers her grandmother Sarah Ralph and her grandfather Jasper Persaud, the son of Indian indentured immigrants, who met and married in the Guyanese capital of Georgetown in the 1930s. Sen. Persaud remembers packing Indian sweets and Guyanese fruit in her suitcase for America and regrets leaving behind the family Bible, Jasper Persaud's Bible, in which he had noted baptisms and confirmations for his children and grandchildren.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Duration: 00:34:34

Date: July 27, 2020
Subject(s): Roxanne Persaud
Type: Oral History
Source: Archival Creators Fellowship Program
Creator: Gaiutra Bahadur
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Gaiutra Bahadur (GB) (0:00):
What did you have with you?

Roxanne Persaud (RP) (0:03):
Each of us had a suitcase of clothing. And then we brought—my aunt had made us gulagula. We had mango. What else? Kinds of mango in syrup. One aunt made gulagula, somebody else made fudge and somebody else made mithai. Because you know, you want it to bring the things that you wanted to eat when you got here. And then we had a big bag of plantain chips that we had to bring, you know, that we brought with us. Those are the things we brought. We had a family Bible that we wanted to bring, but we didn't. We left it there to go back and get it. And just like little toys and some books. I used to read a lot of Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew, Hardy—you know, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew. And so I brought a couple of books with me. And those are—those are the kinds of things we brought. We didn't bring any, you know—people came and they brought their household things and all of that. We didn't do that. My parents were already established here, and you know, we didn't need to bring those things. We just needed to bring food, food stuff. But at that time, you know, you were able to bring out some fruits, you know, preserved fruit that we brought with us.

GB (1:16):
So gulagula is made out of bananas, if I remember, right? My grandmother used to make it.

RP (1:20):
No, it's made—it’s this sweet...It's it's this the sweet mithai, the bigger one? Gulagula?

GB (1:27):
I think there's banana in the batter and then it’s fried.

RP (1:29):
Right. Yes, yes, yes. And then it has a certain sugar syrup on it. And so she made us, you know, this big bag. Because we all liked it, so she made sure she brought it for us. And then after we got here, I was like, why did we eat that? It is so sweet, you know? And then afterwards, you know, she would always send it to us. And we were like, I don't really want it, it's too sweet. Back home, that's what you always wanted.

GB (1:58):
Yeah, those old Indian sweets are so good. But also so bad for me.

RP (2:02):
Jalebi. We always had—we brought jalebi also. Because there was a place in Bordeaux Market that had them, that always sold the best, so we would always get it every week. My parents were buying the sweets there.

GB (2:16):
Tell me about the Bible.

RP (2:18):
The Bible is an old family Bible. It’s, you know, one of those huge Bibles. It has the history and the information of the family in there. And that's what it has. And my sister was always talking about it. Like we left it there, and we were going to go back. And so we took the Bible, and we never got it back. And so we always talk about it. And you know, my sister was, “Oh it’s my mother’s fault that the Bible was left.” But it was a family Bible. It's my grandfather who had left it with us. We had left it with my dad and so it was all the family information there. And just like that, it was just gone.

GB (2:58):
When you say that it had the family history, was there a family tree?

RP (3:04):
It's a family tree, right. It’s a recording, it's a written recording of my grandfather who married and the, you know, the children and his parents, and you know, those kinds of things. And you know, everybody’s baptism dates, confirmation dates, and things of that nature. So they have multiple pages, so that the front has all of that, the family, and then that has the listing of all the confirmation dates, the marriage dates, and you know, the birth dates. I’m the eldest grandchild, so I was always the number one on every page. And then we—so we've lost that. And you know, to this day, we're always talking about it. Someone took our Bible, our family Bible, and we were never able to retrieve it. And then you know, we lost everything that was there. Because now you're like, “Oh my gosh, my grandfather would always send us information.” So the other day we're like, “Where is the birth certificate?” I couldn't find the birth certificateI told my mom I need to find it. Because on his birth certificate, it has all this information: where his parents came from India, where are his grandparents, all that information. And then my grandparents, their marriage certificate had their union had to be approved by the Indian High Commissioner before they could have gotten married. Right? So all of these things you usually see, it’s like, wow, you know?

GB (4:25):
Sarah Ralph is your grandmother.

RP (4:29):
And Jasper Persaud is my grandfather.

GB (4:30):
The one in Guyana?


Why did the Indian High Commission have to approve this wedding?

RP (4:37):
There was a weird thing. They always talked about it, that because an Indian family married into a mixed family, and so the Indian High Commissioner had to do something because of the—I don’t know. So we always tried to figure it out.

GB (4:52):
But—so your granddad was Jasper Persaud, and his parents had been indentured?


Do you know anything about them? Did you hear family stories growing up?

RP (5:05):
Actually, no. It's an interesting thing. Because growing up, and if you know in Guyana how—this is the racial divide. And it was always that, you know, there was not—there were not many family activities that we participated on both sides. You know, it was almost like, Oh, my gosh, you know, this. And there are some people that we had relationships with, but it never ended up—we never sat down and had these conversations.

GB (5:36):
There's a kind of poetic value, almost, to see what people see as significant to bring with them. That Bible, for instance. I mean, you could have brought it with you. I interviewed my aunt who was the first in our family to come in 1966. She was working at the Rose Hall Sugar Estate in the dispensary and saw an ad for nurse trainees at the Jersey City Medical Center. And she applied and got through and came by herself. And then she's ultimately sponsored all of us. So for her, I have her passport that she traveled on, a picture of her in her nurse uniform—those kinds of things that carry memory.

RP (6:16):
I should ask my aunt if she has any of her pictures. So my aunt here was a nurse also, and she came here, went to school and all that.

GB (6:23):
And she was the first to come?


Yes, this seems to be really a commonality in a lot of stories. People came in the 60s and the 70s working in the health professions, nurses, and many of them were women, and the sponsored family. They're really—I see them as the matriarchs of our migration. So can you tell me a little bit about your aunt?

RP (6:47):
My aunt, she's the one who sponsored us. She's the one who sponsored her two brothers and their families. She had my grandmother with her. And, you know, I remember growing up through all their—other like what seeing in Guyana. She would always make her—between her and my grandmother, they made sure we had everything we needed when they returned back to Guyana. And so when we—when she sponsored us, we came here. And, you know, I always say, I'm always grateful that she sponsored us.

What's her name?

Yvonne Hazel. So Yvonne Persaud Hazel.

Okay. So this is your dad’s sister.

RP (7:24):
It’s interesting because my mother is Yvonne Persaud also. People will be like, “Which?” and it’s like “No, that’s my mother; that’s my aunt.” And she ensured that we came, and everyone went back to school, everyone did everything they were supposed to. And she, you know, she never asked us for anything in return. But she, you know, she ensured that she took care of everyone, and she didn't ask us for anything in return.

GB (7:58):
What year did she leave? Do you know?

RP (8:00):
I don’t know. It was before I was born, and I was born in 1966, so I’m not sure. I could ask when she came here.

GB (8:11):
And do you know which hospital she went to work for?

RP (8:14):
She worked out in Minnesota. Yeah, she was in Minnesota. And then she came, she came to New York. She worked at Kings County for a while, and went to Maryland, and she worked there. And then her husband worked at the World Bank, and then they were—and she left nursing because they went to Colombia for a number of years. And she came back, when they came back here, she started off being a nurse.

GB (8:42):
When she came, was she married? And did she have children?

RP (8:44):
She married, then she came.

GB (8:47):
So she wasn’t a young woman single—

RP (8:50):
Yeah. She married before she got here.

GB (8:53):
She married before she came. Okay. Yeah, I'm just inspired by these women who paved the way for the rest of us. Why did you guys leave Guyana? Did you want to leave?

RP (9:07):
Did I want to leave? Oh yeah, I wanted to be back with my family. You know, growing up, as kids, we always knew we were going to come to America. We always knew that. It was not a secret. Because our parents told us my aunt was doing it. So we knew, because my uncle and his kids went first—came first. And so the paperwork hold, it takes up the the length of time it took so that my my uncle and his kids, his wife and his kids came first. So we always knew that we were going to you know, the sponsorship, the way she had to sponsor.

GB (9:43):
That's so interesting to grow up with kind of like, this destiny marked in your palm. You know at some point you will be going to America you just don't know when.

RP (9:53):
You just don't know when. And you're always like, “Oh, okay.” And then you’ll get to America and you’re like, “Oh my gosh. I left Guyana for this?” It's funny, and you look around like, where’s the yard space? Where are the trees, you know? Even in Georgetown, in the backyard, we had a celery tree and bananas growing, and there was a pear tree—we’d always tell the story—the pear tree would not be a fruit. So a huge tree would not bear fruit. And then one year, it bore one pear, one single pear. And my sister climbed the pear tree and picked the pear. My aunt had a fit. My aunt who was in Georgetown but we lived on her property. And after that, nothing again.

GB (10:48):
Was it a good pear? Did she share it?

Yeah, but it was just the thing that—the single pear. So when you used to look at it every day, every day, every day, and then you know, and all the flowers that we had, fabulous flower garden and all that. And you come here and you're like, “Ohhh,” you know, but then afterwards, you got used to it, so.

GB (11:09):
Where was here? You moved first to... ?

Queens. Yeah. South Ozone Park in Queens.

In 1984.


Right, which is when I think Guyanese started to settle in the area.

No, they started to settle in Richmond Hill.

In Richmond Hill, right.

RP (11:21):
It was way before. And Guyanese talk about Little Guyana. I’m like, they lived over here way before it became Little Guyana. Before we even thought of.

GB (11:38):
What was South Ozone Park like in 1984?

RP (11:42):
It was quiet. And you know, all its— everybody, the houses, everybody was friendly. The kids on the block, everybody got together, you know. It was, you know, a quiet block, you just came outside and did whatever you wanted to.

GB (11:54):
Just no pear tree outside.

RP (11:57):
Just no pear tree. And we had plants growing in the front yard. But we didn't have this huge front yard. There was a backyard also, you know, it’s concrete. You’re like, “Oh.”

GB (12:08):
I'm interested in your experience of being biracial in Guyana, and your experience being biracial in the United States. Maybe it makes sense to start with Guyana, and identity in Guyana, because, as you said, as we both know, it's such a divided place. And you said, you only later got to know your grandfather, Jasper's family, in Esequibo. You would do things with one side of the family, then other things with the other side of the family, but it was never joint.

RP (12:45):
It was never an integrated event. Yeah. Well, I should not say never, there were some times. I remember, clearly, we had relatives living not too far down the block, my grandfather's road, not too far from us. And, you know, we'll see them, say hi, they would come to the house or we’d go, my father would go, you know, pass and talk to them. And I remember when coming to the house only, when my brother, my brother was the only boy—with the three girls and a boy—and they came to do the the ceremony, you know, when they, you know, they they buy him and, you know, all the Indian relatives come and they do the ceremony, and they do whatever.

GB (13:28):
So which ceremony? When he turned 13?

RP (13:32):
No, when he was born.

Oh, his birth ceremony.

And so they did this. They did that, like, oh, all these relatives are there, you know, because he was their son-a-boy. That's what they used to call him. And so, you know, that's—they came there for that. And then afterwards, it was always about my brother, because he was a little boy. But other than that, we didn't really have any, you know, we saw them and we’d say hello. And that's about it. It was the case that we went to their houses. And you sat there and there, you had lunch, and you played with their kids. And it was just the way it was.

GB (14:12):
And part of it was also—you have a woman from Canje and a man from Esequibo and the capital, living in town, so they're already broken from their, their birth places, and their families are presumably all back in Berbice and Esequibo, also, right?

RP (14:29):
Right, but when we—when when I was born, there's a lot of family living in the in the city. And even the ones they would come down to the city, we’ll see, but we didn't have that connection, that familial connection.

GB (14:49):
Can I ask how you identified when you were a young person in Guyana?

RP (14:54):
They always said “Oh, the dougla children, the Persaud children.” I remember going to my mother's relatives, like “Oh, the Persaud children, you know the dougla children,” to them. So it was always, you know, you know, I tell people, I identify as a black person. And I said to some reporter a couple of weeks ago, I said, I embrace all of my cultures. All of them. And if they might do the things, or them, you know, or else you will have a Johnny I will do the dandy or, you know, whatever. And I know what to do and all that. I said, but identify as a black person, and that's just who I am.

GB (15:43):
Tell me about the word “dougla.” When you hear it? Who is using it in Guyana? Is it both sides?

RP (15:51):
It’s both sides. Yeah. Because people think that, you know, you're not one, you’re not the other. And so everybody knows what, when somebody says, oh, the dougla person, it's a person who's mixed race.

GB (16:01):
How did you feel about that word in Guyana growing up?

RP (16:04):
Actually, it didn't really bother me. Because I was proud of who I was. If for me to say, “Oh, I’m not a dougla,” then it would be I'm denying my mother, denying my father. You know, that's always been me. I was like, I know who I am. The label isn't really, you know.

GB (16:23):
So you heard it matter of factly, not as an insult.

RP (16:26):
Not as an insult. To me, it was not a derogatory term. You know, people use it, because they're like, “Oh, yeah. You're like, not one of us, really.” But it's telling you, I always say, “Yeah, I'm unique.” You know, that was my answer to people. Like yeah, I’m unique.

GB (16:44):
You have all of the possibilities of all of Guyana in you, which is a burden also. It’s a blessing and it’s a burden.

RP (16:56):
Yeah, it is. Because, you know, people will tend to want you to stick with Guyana politics. I always tell people, I have no political affiliation with Guyana, but people will tend to tell you fully one way or one or the other way, and I'm like, no. I don’t have an idea of what kind of politics I have. I have relatives on both sides of the parties of the government. I don't care. It's not it's not, you know, I have to be concerned with the politics of the country I'm living in. And that's that's what was my answer. But people always try to pull you, oh, you know, you're a facade is all you know. So you shouldn't be this, you should be that. No, it shouldn't be, I have to be, I have to be who I am.

GB (17:36):
So you said you identify as black. Can you tell me a little bit about why you choose that as the term to describe yourself?

RP (17:49):
Because it’s easier. The average American person will never understand that oh, you know, this and that, your mother is this and your father is that. I’ve had Indian people you know.
v GB (18:01):
From India, you mean.

RP (18:04):

Indian from India, yeah. Guyanese Indians also, like “You’re a Persaud?” Yeah, I was born with it. I was born with that name. My father's one. I love to say, “My father's one.” My sister, you know, two of my sisters, they don’t know how to question it. Because we all look like the United Nations, so who cares? When I wash my hair and it’s wet, you’ll see, you’ll be like, “Oh, yeah,” but today my hair’s dry. For some reason that this thing my hair and drying my hair out? But I'm like, yeah. It’s easier to just identify as a black person. So that’s it.

GB (18:42):
In terms of legibility here in the United States. Yeah.

RP (18:45):
Right. So instead of, you know, people—Guyanese people, will always say your name and be like, “Oh.” Some of them will say first, “Oh, did you marry a Persaud?” No, I was born as a Persaud.

GB (18:58):
And how about your siblings? Do they make the same choices? Identify in the same way? Or have you guys talked about—

RP (19:04):
We don’t really talk about it. One of my sisters does. She identifies more as an Indian. If you see her, she's the one with the straight hair and all that. And then she identifies Indian. My other sister, she has long curly hair and all that, and you look at her, and she'll say, “Yeah, I'm the dougla girl.” So, it depends.

GB (19:29):
It’s interesting how these physical attributes that have been used to categorize us for centuries then become our shorthand, too. Right? You choose the identity based on what the world sees. You choose the identity based on what the world sees when they look at you.

RP (19:48):
I think because it's easier, right, than having to explain. As I said, to the reporter, “Yeah, I identify as a black person.” That’s it. I know who I am.

GB (20:06):
Let's talk a little bit about the process of adjustment in the US. Was it difficult for you to find your way at first? In the United States, and you were living in South Ozone Park, and you were 17. So you had high school?

RP (20:26):


And I didn't find it difficult at all. So it was January, and I, you know, I wanted to find my way. Because we walked around, you know, my sisters, they would say, “Okay, let's go and walk around to find out what was around the block.” So where the library was, where the schools were, walk to the Van Wyck, Linden/ Van Wyck. Just to see. And then I registered to do a summer youth program for the summer. And then, you know, continued from—never stopped. I was always part of something. And then I started school and in January, and, you know, I never stopped, it was always, you know, it was always something because I was always the type who was always doing something. And I tell people, because I think it was the Brownie in me, you start as a Brownie who made that pledge that you'll always do your best. So you're always doing something. And so that was just me. So my siblings would always say, “Oh, you're pulling us into doing something,” but it was just—this just me. Because I had an aunt who I wanted to emulate what she did. Everything she did in Guyana, I wanted to do. And so that was just part of me. So, you know, liking the environment? It's completely different. Because I, you know, it was just brick and mortar. It's a concrete jungle, really. And you see, you know, and then you know, you go on the bus, and you're seeing people, and you're hearing people speaking and the like, “Okay.” But people weren’t the friendliest of people. You know? In Guyana, you don’t dare walk by somebody without saying good morning or good afternoon, hello. Here, people just look over your face and be like, you know, just keep going. I'm always like, “Hello, good morning.” So those are the things but it was, you know, I got used to that.

GB (22:30):
And what were your parents doing for work when you got here?

RP (22:33):
My mother was working for—doing social work. She worked for a young adult institute, with the developmentally disabled. And she'd done that God knows [how long]. And then my dad— because my parents separated—then my dad worked a number of places. He wanted to try everything possible. He worked for FedEx corporation for a very long time. After New Jersey, yeah.

GB (22:59):
So your dad is still living?

RP (23:03):
Yeah, my dad and my sister. My dad and my two sisters—two of my sisters. They live in Jersey.

GB (23:07):
Okay, yeah, gotcha.Well, you already said that politics in Guyana doesn't interest you. And that—

RP (23:13):
It’s not that it doesn't interest me. It's not—I don't want to be involved in it. You know, my mother every single day she watches everything. And she talks about, she wants to know what's going on. And I'm like, I don't. Because you'll go crazy just trying to figure it out. And then you know, and the racial divide is what bothers me the most. So I just try not to get involved. The people, my staff will tell you would during this election, people have been calling the office nonstop. Oh, telling us just to get involved in that. No, I don't. I'm a New York State Senator. I don't have to get involved. I'm aware of what's going on in Guyana. I speak with my congressional colleagues to find out what is going on and what is the federal government thinking and whatnot, all that. But other than that, I don't have—I don't have to stand in a pulpit and say this is this person's right, this person...That's not that's not what I'm interested in. I'm interested in—if people will look at what's in the best interest of the country and the people of Guyana, instead of the way they're looking at things. It will be better for them. I've seen relatives of mine, who have placed the most vile comments on social media, because the ethnic divide, and I'm getting to that. It's not going to get us anywhere. Because at the end of the day, the people whomever gets into power, it's all for their benefit. It's not, you know, so while you're making enemies of everyone, what happens after?

GB (24:40):
I understand. I covered the 2015 election for Foreign Policy magazine. And one of the stories that I produced was about the growing mixed race population, and specifically Indian and African, and how that has the potential, maybe positively, to disrupt what we have known in that space. They’re 16% of the population.

RP (25:05):
I have relatives who are, you know, it's funny. I always say—tell people, like, “My family, we’re the United Nations.” I have relatives who are—from brother's marriage—Italian. We see my three nephews. I have relatives who are Amerindian. I have relatives who are Chinese, my mother's grandparents were Chinese, her grandmother was Chinese and black. And that great grandfather was Chinese. You see some of them, they’re like. We’ll go to Canada to see some relatives. And they'll be like, “Oh, are you guys related?” Yeah, we’re all one. And it's not—it's not distant relatives, you know? And so that's so you can't get caught up in a race war. Who benefits from that? In 2020, If you're looking to move yourself forward, right? What is the need for a race war? Why are you trying to divide people? If you're really interested in the country growing, you'll try to unite. And that's not the problem The United States is facing right now. You see, the racial divide is growing more and more. And that, you know, I look at people when they say, “Oh the American people need to come into Guyana,” and I’m like, “Really?” We don’t have a handle on it here. You’re telling me to tell them and come and get a handle on it in Guyana? That doesn’t make any sense. You work it out. That's what you should do. It makes absolutely no sense that we can be friends, you know, four years. And then the fifth year when an election comes around, we're the worst enemies just because of race. And people making lots of money off of doing that. They continue to push that divide. And people don't, you know, the average person doesn't get it. They buy into it. And so when I see my relatives talking about, you know, black people, there's some black people that are lying. And I say “Wow.” And likewise, when you see friends that you have seen, oh, the Indians, this and the Indians that? Wow, guys we're buddies. What have you gained by that?

GB (27:34):
It's always stunning to me that, as you say, it happens in those five year cycles. Every fifth year is an election. And that that is when people brutalize each other on social media and elsewhere. I wonder how those friendships recover in the interim, and to what extent is this vitriol, almost a performance that everyone is invested in a play that they keep reenacting every five years.

RP (28:02):
But you can't recover. I tell people, the easiest thing for me to do is to ignore someone. It's a very easy thing for me to do. You can't recover. You can't recover the relationship you had when someone has done that. Whether it could be your sibling, could be your best friend. If they've done wrong, and you should be able to say, “What you’ve done is wrong.” And if they can't accept that, then that relationship can never recover. It could never recover. We cannot. I cannot. If you've said some of the things you've said, do you think I'm gonna come and sit at the dining table? And have you give me food? I can't trust you. How do I know you're not gonna try to poison me? That's just the way I think. So that relationship can never recover. Because I no longer trust you. You know, we can have conversations and everything. But that trust on me, once the trust is broken. You can’t come up with again.

GB (29:12):
So given the tensions that exist back home, and the tensions that exist here around race and ethnicity, do you think it's fruitful to have conversations about identity and—

RP (29:26):
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You have to have people engaged in that conversation. What do you think? What does identity mean to you? How do you identify yourself? And why? When they ask you, why do you say—why do you identify? Because it was the easiest thing for me to do. I know who I am. It's an easy way to say yeah, I’m a black woman. It's easier to do that. And then you can keep going. Because sometimes, you know, the questions that people will ask, “Well, why don't you do this? Why don’t you do that?” Sometimes it's not worth answering the question. And sometimes the answer may cause additional problems. Like when you say, you know, “Oh, I can walk around now.” And I have all of these people who are going to talk to me and think that oh my God, you're the best thing since sliced bread. Before I won an election, many of those people weren't interested in talking to me that way.

GB (30:28):
You mean family members?

RP (30:30):
No, just in general. Just in general, from the Guyanese community. A lot of them. And I said that to some of them, like please, you’ve known me for so many years and now all of a sudden...It's just the way it is. So we have to have those conversations. I tried to participate in things, when they were part of the Guyanese communities as much as I can. But I’m not going to say that I have to participate in everything. That’s not—in both places they’ll say, “Oh, the Guyanese senator,” and I'm like, “No, I'm in New York State Senator.”

“Oh, you have to take care of us.” That's when they call the office. Oh, remember this for when I leave a message. Like “Oh, she's Guyanese and I’m Guyanese and she needs—I need to help her.” I'm like, “That's not the way it works.” You know, one person gives you the offer, the staff member came and set me up, like I'm sorry, but I have to ask this person, you know, I'm not Guyanaese. What does that mean to me, the way you’re talking to me? And he's what does that mean, to me, the way you're talking to me, because they thought that, just saying “I’m Guyanese,” she has to help me. But the staff was just, you know, and I'm, like, you know. The constituency that I have, it’s not majority Guyanese. When I look at the Bengali community, the Asian community, the Russian community. It's the Jewish community, the Italian community. So I can't walk around saying, “I’m the senator only taking care of the Guyanese community.” I have to make sure I'm taking care of the entire community. And so, you know, I've tried to make sure, as much as possible, everybody has some time to participate. But that's beside the point.

GB (32:26):
Okay, so this is a South Asian American digital archive. And the project is Guyanese oral history project. How do you feel about your story existing, sort of, in this ecosystem, in this environment?

RP (32:41):
I think we all have a story to tell. I think everyone should tell their story and have people listen to it. And if you can learn from my story, or can learn from your story, I think we'll grow as individuals. And so, we would not make the same mistakes that our foreparents did. We would not have—we should not be dividing. At the end of the day, we should all be proud to say I am a Guyanese. I remember a song years ago that said, “Nationality is not race.” So you don't walk—so, who are you? Who are you? And we should all stand there, six races, I used to say, I am a Guyanese. It should not—the color should not define who we are. The texture of my hair should not define whether—how much of a Persaud I am. The color of my skin should not define how much of a Persaud I am. Me as an individual, the way I live my life, should define who I am. And that's what I try to do as much as possible. I tell people—and I love to say it— I'm a proud Persaud. I have no problems with that. My grandfather, you know—my cousin's will say, “Oh, yeah, your grandfather's looking down.” He's probably—because my grandfather always pushed me to do things. I say, “Yeah, I am a proud Persaud.” I'm proud of my name. I'm proud of the heritage I have. You have to let people know that. I am a child of Kendrick and Yvone Persaud and that's who I am.

GB (34:30):
Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

You’re welcome.

Collection: Gaiutra Bahadur Fellowship Project
Item History: 2020-08-24 (created); 2022-01-24 (modified)

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