So there I was at the National Round-table conference on social cohesion on Thursday and during an informal conversation (which I had no business listening to but was listening to anyway) one of the speakers brought up the issue of Guyanese having a dream that speaks to their “Guyanese-ness” – essentially she was referring to the Guyanese Dream.
My research on the issue led me to a novel by Stephen Spencer in which he examines the Guyanese dream and identity. His book is entitled: A Dream Deferred: Guyanese Identity and the Shadows of Colonialism.
In his writings, Spencer notes that Guyana once stood at the cusp of a robust identity, with an array of enviable accomplishments – the literary arts, sports, and economic sustainability. Now the South American nation is a mere skeleton of itself.
So for the entirety of Thursday I was asking persons what is the Guyanese dream. All the responses I got pointed to two things.
1) There is no Guyanese dream (a lot of the persons simply said “I don’t know”)
2) The Guyanese dream is to live the American dream (About 2/3 of the persons I spoke to, stated that their dream is to live in America – New York to be specific.)
I am blogging about this because the issue of having a national identity was raised and one of the integral pillars of having a national identity is having a common dream or goal. Dreams are the very manifestations of our identities as individuals and as collectives.
The point is, as Guyanese we have no unique dream of our own – all we want to do is to experience the United States of America, or just to experience outside of Guyana – get rich enough to go abroad. While the folks at the US State Department may feel heartened by such a dream, I for one am daunted. I have no wish of rendering myself to the American soil and falling to the fancies of the American dream.
I do not contemplate my future and see myself in a foreign land with a white picket fence and a home in a white/urban neighborhood. No. No No! When I think about my future and the dreams I have I see myself right here doing work for my country – my land of many waters.
Very few persons, I believe, share a dream that is similar to mine. As one person rightly pointed out “We all dream of going to ‘Merica.” Another stated “Big house and fancy car – and fuh go New York.”
To further prove the point, a young man stated that for him it’s “having a dedicated family to come home to whenever I get tired of America. America is a country that teaches people how to be independent and selfish for the most part of it. So once I can come home and feel that family love – even when I’m broke. That’s living the Guyanese dream for me.”
Having an National Identity should be just more than our Nationality. I’m not being unpatriotic here but it’s akin to me saying “Okay You’re Guyanese – what else? Is that all you have? Its not enough.” Hence me stressing for us to have a common dream – a vision of our own.
One of my respondents told me that the Guyanese dream is “Social Cohesion” though she subsequently responded to say she was kidding, I do believe that her sentiments has some merit.
For such a racially polarized country with racially charged sentiments being spewed on a daily basis a dream of National Cohesion is rather important, but it should not only be a dream. It should be our reality.
All of us as a Guyanese must have a collective awakening as to what our dream should be. I personally think it should be a demiurge.
One person wants a “spot on the coast, mesh fence, flat house, mowed lawns with a high end vehicle.”
This brings me to a recent interview with a third former who had just written CXC. I asked him about his ambition and where he wants to go. He said he wanted to become a custom’s officer. I asked him why, he bluntly stated “because they get cars fast.”