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We must apologise,do something now

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EDITOR: While shopping in my favourite supermarket at Arnos Vale I met a Japanese friend who works for The Japanese Volunteers Overseas Association. I inquired of her family and how things were with her in St. Vincent. Her story is a depressing one and I have tried to report it as accurately as I can below.

“St. Vincent is a beautiful place and has beautiful weather, lovely seas, beaches and food but I am not happy here”. “Why?” I asked. She replied in a very distraught manner. “Since my stay in St. Vincent people have been shouting out at me and calling me “CHINKY, CHINKY, CHING CHONG”. It is horrible. I don’t like it. Everywhere I go children will say the same. If I go to the beach the same thing happens. Sometimes when I am out with my family at the weekends I have to stay in my car and while sitting in it some children would come up to the car and shout these things. I have to turn up my windows but they would come and bang on the window calling me those names.” She said: “I am not Chinese but even if I were then I would not want to be treated in this way.”

After listening to this young woman’s story I felt repulsed and saddened. I apologized on behalf of all decent Vincentians and promised that I would do what I could to bring this issue to the government and the public’s attention. I therefore decided to write this and hope that the papers would publish this so that all the newspaper readers in St. Vincent can help to do something to stomp out this utter disgrace in our society.

This country is going through a new era and the government is working to create a new dawn in the history of tourism in this country. What message are we sending out to strangers who come here as volunteers to give us freely of their service in the area of education and in other fields and we and our children treat these same people with disrespect? Do we expect them to want to stay here and continue to help in our development while our children make them feel unwanted?

This young woman of whom I speak has been here more than two years and from what I can gather her life has been painfully uncomfortable to say the least.

As a Vincentian I’ve spent two of my happiest years overseas living in Japan. These have been the happiest compared to living in Britain for the best part of 38 years. I lived in an area where one did not see any black people and yet no one there, whether overtly or covertly, ever said or did anything to me to make me feel isolated or not accepted. The Japanese, in my opinion, are some of the most friendly and warmest people that I have had the privilege to meet in my travels. I strongly support the government’s drive towards bringing more tourists to this country but I plead with the Prime Minister to nip this problem in the bud before we derail one of our best economic assets – TOURISM. Japanese/Chinese – we welcome you here.

Orlando Williams

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