By Evan Triantafilidis
They came dancing with a mission.
Members of the Caribbean Equality Project and the Asian American Federation, in partnership with the South Queens Women’s March, hosted the inaugural Little Guyana Votes Festival in Richmond Hill last weekend.
Held on 120th Street between Little Punjab Avenue (101st Avenue) and Little Guyana Avenue (Liberty Avenue), the event also featured cultural music performances by Taranng Dance Group, PPE distribution, Hurricane Ida relief resources and COVID vaccines.
The Indo-Caribbean community is the second-largest foreign-born group in Queens, and fifth-largest in the city.
Christina Motilall, a member of South Queens Women’s March since last year, says she connects with the platform’s mission of providing resources to an underserved community.
“My family goes through the issues that South Queens Women’s March is trying to tackle,” said Motilall, whose parents are from Guyana. “I feel like I connect with it culturally, and I want to make a difference too. This is what representation looks like,” said Motilall.
The festival culminated in over 30 new registered voters, 250 free culturally responsive grocery bags distributed and over 40 completed excluded workers fund applications, according to Mohamad Q. Amin, founder and executive director of the Caribbean Equality Project.
“This is our home, this is our country, and immigrants have always been essential,” said Amin. “We must protect immigrant rights, LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights and grant undocumented people and asylum seekers a pathway to citizenship, freedom, and liberation.”
The event was joined by community leaders, including council member Adrienne Adams, who emphasized her priority on the diverse constituents of the district.
“I recognize that all of us have been marginalized and forgotten about, not thought about and not cared about,” she said. “So when I became elected, I knew things had to change.”
The event coincided with National Voter Registration Day, held annually on the fourth Tuesday in September. According to U.S. Census data from 2020, roughly one in four eligible Americans are not registered to vote.
To familiarize locals with the voting process, residents cast ballots for categories like which local eatery has the best doubles, a common street food snack from Trinidad and Tobago, and shared their preference for one of two well-known Richmond Hill grocery stores, Singh Farm and Patel Brothers.