The Caribbean Dictionary

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coolie
2 definitions
113
Noun
A person of East Indian ancestry. Most Caribbean people of East Indian descent can trace their roots back to indentured workers imported by the British in the 19th century after the abolition of slavery.
Synonyms
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cooliecooliecooliecooliecoolie
 
Noun
Person of mixed African and East Indian ancestry
Synonyms
dougla, royal
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person
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coolie
Trini Jun 18, 2013
Coolie is not related to and indian person. Coolie is a porter who carries bags from train to cars to get paid.There is no realtion to being indian by calling one a coolie.Any person can be called a coolie, the definition is explained above. Thank you.
Older Trini Jun 19, 2013
Actually their defination is correct. Coolie is any mixed person that looks indian that has some African decent. It may not be familiar to you but they are correct.
Name Sep 11, 2013
Both are wrong; Coolie is a derogatory term used to describe unskilled laborers, the term is Asian in Origin. A Dougla describes a person who has mixed ancestry usually of African and Indian decent. I know in Jamaica it is wrongly used to describe someone of Indian or mixed Indian decent. And after the movie Coolie with AB in it does not mean the term refers to only porters but to all unskilled.
marcus Sep 12, 2013
It's almost as if words can mean different things in different places.
Nibbles Oct 28, 2013
Please. Let's stop being PC. No one in Trinidad uses coolie to refer other anyone else, other than those people who are purely of East Indian descent. It may not be nice. But it's a derogatory word that is specifically aimed at that racial group.
Nibbles Oct 28, 2013
Ook, forgive my earlier typo.
jombie Nov 24, 2013
Growing up in the 50's..the blacks call us (East Indians) coolie...the correct spelling Kuli....Today I am A proud COOLIE........Negro
Bullet Jan 19, 2014
I doh know about all that buh from what I know coolie mean acting way to Indian lol it's actually not a insult , I'm half trini and Guyanese lol
Jerry Poliah Feb 08, 2014
The word collie is Hindi so it's used to describe someone who carries load on their heads example luggage to the train or from the train. Anyone who carries load on their heads, one who is very proud of my heritage .
sita Feb 14, 2014
coolie.... negro people call East Indian in Trinidad coolie .its considered a derogatory word. but its actual a term use in India for people who carry load\baggage on there head
Lennox Wyllie Mar 28, 2014
We all know about Trinidad but according to "Dictionary.com:"
1. An unskilled laborer, especially formerly in China and India.
2. An unskilled laborer employed cheaply, especially one brought from Asia.
3. A contemptuous term used to refer to an Asian, especially an Indian living in South Africa.
I wish we would all decide to stop using that word. It reeks of
Lennox Wyllie Mar 28, 2014
I wish we would all decide to stop using that word. It reeks of degradation and racism.
Proud Coolie Apr 19, 2014
Coolie comes from the Hindi word "kuli" which means slave or unskilled manual labourer.

Dougla comes from the Hindi word "doogala" which means mixed race or impure breed.
Allison E Daniels Jun 21, 2014
Hey Caribbean people, the truth is, regardless of the correct definition of 'coolie', today it is used to refer to any East Indian person regardless of their status in society. In the Guyana you're either black, coolie, dougla or bufiano; but if someone doesn't like being called those names then just respect that.
JAB Jul 19, 2014
And to think, I almost tattooed the word "Cooli" on my left arm. It' truly a blessing to over stand all perceptions. So powerful it caused the drawing tone become framed rather than engraved upon my skin. Peace and Love.
M Sep 22, 2014
How disrespectful
David DB Sep 22, 2014
Actually, coolie also refers to Chinese laborers. From Wikipedia: A coolie (alternatively spelled cooli, cooly, kuli, quli, koelie and other such variations), during the 19th and early 20th century, was a label applied to a person from Asia, particularly if they were from Southern China, the Indian subcontinent, the Philippines or Indonesia. Today, it is also a contemporary racial slur for people
David DB Sep 22, 2014
of Asian descent, particularly in South Africa.
Jigs Oct 31, 2014
It is another racist term for trini Indians. It is what it is.
Tintin Nov 13, 2014
The term here is correct if you are Jamaican. Coolie is not an offensive term in Jamaica. My family is black and coolie, for generations we've used the term and we use it proudly. Outside of Jamaica I've heard it can be a problem. But as far as Jamaicans go, Coolie is what we Indians and mixed race people call ourselves.
Beeps Dec 02, 2014
It does not matter what the origin s are. What matters is that it is an offensive and derogatory word used to describe East Indians in the Caribbean and elsewhere. It is said with contempt and with the intention to hurt.It is neither funny nor polite. The term is just as hurtful as the other word used to describe Africans. We both feel the insult and the pain of non acceptance.
jah jah Dec 20, 2014
The definition is correct that's what people call me nd my family we are from Jamaica but we are originally Indians mixed with Africans
J.Mod Feb 15, 2015
We use the word Coolie to describe Black and Indian mix. My family is from Jamaica.
j j Mar 26, 2015
I used to live in the Philippines and they called Indians Boombais
We all need to get Apr 10, 2015
I personally think that it is crazy to refer to a person or to use racial slurs to describe a person.
shanice Apr 11, 2015
Im a jamacian mixed with indian. I think where i come from in Jamaica i think it is a correct term to describe a mixed person. Im one by the way. I have a question, why do people call it rude to call people coolies?
Rosy May 07, 2015
Why would anyone want to be compared to an 'unskilled labourer'. Really?? Only people that don't know any better still use that term - or refer to themselves as this .....
KB May 31, 2015
Words can mean different things depending on the country or culture using it. So the word coolie can be a derogatory term in Trinidad used to describe those of Indian decent, or a term used to describe someone of mixed ethnicity in Jamaica and still hold its original meaning to describe a labor in Asian countries. Knowledge is power, how will you use it?
Patrice Edwards Jun 16, 2015
Dictionary meaning is irrelevant as yaadies never went to a dictionary and decide to call people coolie from it. People look cool skined cause a dem heritage and get called coolie. If yuh fat yah fattie, if yuh black yah Blakie. Come on man surely unuh know how Jamaicans or caribbeans stay don't over think it or take offence by it. Labelling is not a good thing because of the western worlds
Dougla.Girl Aug 28, 2015
Someone of east Indian descent. Meaning your ancestors from India were taken to Guyana as immigrants. The term "coolie" was given to the Indians working on the plantations in the west indies by the European "whites" who were they're masters. Both my parents were born in Guyana, so I asked my coolie relatives.My mom side of the family is dougla and coolie, My dad's side is afro-guyanese.
Christopher Sep 14, 2015
You dum people coolie is a hindu word that's means laborer in English people that is from east indian decent and that is pure Indian blooded they are called that so if they are mix with anything else black asian European etc the are not coolie they are just mix it does not matter if their half indian the are not coolie , if you are not pure east indian blooded you are not a coolie
Christopher Sep 14, 2015
The birtish used to call them that when they were ruleing india that's where they got the word from then when the British fooled their dum ass and bring them to the caribbean and south America they used that word towards them cause they came as labors to work for the birtish in the caribbean and south America the only type of person that are supposed to called coolie are pure east indian people
Christopher Sep 14, 2015
So if your from Guyana india Pakistan Bangladesh ski lanka and trindad any country and your pure full blooded indian your are a coolie and if your mix indian you are not coolie you are categories to be Dougla or mix that's y it's important to know your history folks
Sher Sep 14, 2015
Here in Jamaica Coolie is merely a universal identifier for a group of people because we can't be bothered to determine what % you are of any race. From u have a toops a indian in you, you are a coolie. Most if not all Jamaicans of Indian descent proudly identify as coolie. All the same, I will try not to use this word to any non-Jamaicans because I just can't be bothered with the intricacies.
Boo Sep 22, 2015
I am a born Jamaican wid all dew respect, "but seriously!" bwoy dem comments mek mi glad to be a Jamaican the most liberal caribbean country ever. We welcome anyone whether Coolie, Indian, White, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Haitian, etc. I myself have relative of Indian descent and mi call dem Coolie it nuh bother dem cause we nuh stereotypes.
Donnaélle Oct 05, 2015
There shouldn't be any confusion there are different meanings for some the same words everywhere. My stepfather is from Jamaica and to this day he still will call a mixes breed a Coolie.The word "Coolie", in Jamaica, refers to one of Adrian decent or one who appears to be black mixed with Indian decent. The word is typically used for black people with silkier hair textures. Its not offensive guys.
James Oct 06, 2015
Waah gwaan people James from Jamaica. Well there we find it disrespectful to describe people from there nationality so wi a gi dem Nicknames, The word coolie there is mostly used to describe indians , But mi sometime use it to describe someone who is cool. Lil Everybody is welcome in Jamaica, and if you don't like to be called like that... No problem
James Oct 06, 2015
I'm Dougla (British, Jamaican, Indian) Suh basically fi mi it nuh mattah weh yuh waan fi call mi Bredda Nigga ain't bad either
Sandra Oct 15, 2015
In St. Maarten, Coolie is a compliment. It describes someones hair. Curly hair ppl are described as a coolie. Whether mixed or not you a coolie or have coolie hair once you have curly hair. Knowledge is power. If we really knew the true meaning and origin of the word we would not take it as a compliment.
Mike Oct 18, 2015
Take it from an old head, educated, Jamaican- coolie is not a nice term. We called people from India coolies, which means workers. We called them that because they came as indentured servants and ruined the laborers' struggle for better pay and working conditions. Jamaicans were never divisive but to people from India and to a lesser extent to the Chinese. Call me a coolie and we are fighting.
karishma Oct 21, 2015
I am from new York what I know is when they say coolie people is people who is from the Caribbean islands or who is one.
Imageprobill Dec 15, 2015
All I know is that in the movie "GHANDI" when the conductor on the train was speaking to Mr. Ghandi and referred to him as "coolie" the conductor meant it in the same way southerners called African Americans "niggers, black boys, jungle bunnies, spear chuckers and sambo".
Lisa Dec 28, 2015
Hmmm...
lordAvid Jan 11, 2016
Yup that's pretty much the accurate definition
yl Feb 28, 2016
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Sarah Mar 06, 2016
In St.Vincent and the Grenadines, anyone who has curly or naturally straight hair is referred to as coolie. The term is not strictly saved for people who definitely have Indian in them. My hair is naturally curly, I have no Indian in me whatsoever yet people refer to me as coolie all the time. Guess the word has different meanings depending on where you are. No reason to argue though!#OneCaribbean
Kii Mar 14, 2016
This whole debate is centered around semantics, words have always changed meanings based on the era and the culture of people. Coolie may have originated from the Hindi word, Kuli or it may not have. I have always been referred to as Creole, which simply means a mixed race. For us it specifically refers to our roots, French, Indian, African descent.
Honeytan Mar 22, 2016
It is what it is. It's offensive to some and not to others. Peace and Love👍🏽😊
Angela Apr 03, 2016
Regardless, people we are all humans.
Natasha Apr 19, 2016
The word Coolie, is a derogatory term used by the English to define slaves from India and China. Weather indentured or not, they were given the title of indentured servants to feel superior to African slaves. Divide and conquer, just as was done in the past and modern day. Just as they did in Rwanda with the Hutu and the tutsi's, just as was done on the island of Hispanola with Dominicans and Hait
Natasha Apr 19, 2016
Haitians. The "N" word means tired and lazy.. If people accept this, then anyone of any race should be able to use this word, even Caucasians. Just because Cool** and Ni**er, have become terms of Endearment, in social circles doesn't mean it's right or should be used. I am a West Indian American, woman of East Indian descent . My husband is a West Indian American man of African descent.
Natasha Apr 19, 2016
I dare someone to call my daughter a coo••e, or my son a N***er, it would be over. Stop staying simple and stupid elevate these words have no place in society. Terms of endearment my ass. Wake up.. This topic can be so deep and can go further, but I will just chill. Stupid shit
Lupita Ramclam May 10, 2016
In Belize, most people refer to the East Indians as 'Coolie'. My ma tha one. Tha nuh fi mek people tek offense. Different words have different meanings in different places. Key word: different. 🙄 Bless up
Trini Gyal Jun 03, 2016
Coolie mean unskilled worker referring to people from only east Indian descent. Where as doulga is people mixed with Indian and African descent. Stop being so ignorant and stupid. For some people throughout the world coolie is a racial slur, is an equal to nigger. So don't call anyone coolie if your not from full Indian descent cause if you do you are racist.
Hothead Pinkney Jun 15, 2016
Nobody cares lol we call them coolie
Shan Jun 27, 2016
In life, one word can carry multiple meanings. Who is anyone to tell the other person that they are using the word in the wrong way or for the wrong thing. It all boils down to respect for a person's wishes. If they don't want to be called by a certain term for whatever reason accept that but don't you dare tell another that they shouldn't be ok with a word because you're not. "Freedom" Peace out!
bolton Jul 09, 2016
Me myself have straight black hair, im english, my mother is white english and my father is jamaican but wid black curly hair..ppl always ask where im from?? Ive been called indian, šouth american, italian, mexican, phillipino..all sorts!! Wen i tell them my heritage they're quite surprised! Sum of my english black mates, their jamaican mum say 'coolie' wen ive told them..never botherd me! Peace!
nbcool123 Jul 15, 2016
Say something, keep it civil.... keep tracing back to the origin, and you will get lost. Especially if there is no documentation. The world is changing. Along with those changes, literature may be carved into something new. What means one thing in the East will not always be the same in the West.
Sunil Aug 20, 2016
Much of human history is superseded so there is no wrong answer. Yet another theory: It is a British word used to describe labours brought from Asia (Indian, Chinese and other). The reason the word is known in India is because the British introduced the word.
Ricardo Sep 13, 2016
I live in England with a whole set of Jamaicans . They seem to think the word coolie means black and Indian. Clearly they don't know there history. I was watching a documentary called how Britain re-invented slavery. The British used the word coolie to describe the East Indian migrants . In Guyana and Trinidad where there majority of East Indians went they call Indian and black Dougla.
Ricardo Sep 13, 2016
I don't know what happen in Jamaica where they changed it up and found that coolie meant Indian and black . But if Guyana and Trinidad seem to know there history very well, why don't Jamaicans know anything about there history ? Please some of you go to school or use YouTube/wiki to learn something. Clearly some of you are lost .
SMH Sep 15, 2016
Its Marathi for servant or labourer not Hindi
Su Wayne Sep 24, 2016
My dad has Indian descent and so do i .I have had good hair growing up but I never remembered anyone calling me coolie .To me one you are mixed with Indian descent you are coolie which means -person of Indian descent or person with Indian hair.
Blossom goulbourne Sep 29, 2016
It is what it is, sometimes we tend to use words incorrectly. We always use the word cooley to mean a person who is mix with indian and black. But as
Blossom goulbourne Sep 29, 2016
It is what it is, sometimes we tend to use words incorrectly. We always use the word cooley to mean a person who is mix with indian and black but the fact is, we were using the word incorrectly we do that a lot of times. Education is good
Ashmanie Nov 27, 2016
i Guyanese and I doan take offense...
Fisal Ally Nov 29, 2016
You may want to read Savitri's Garden by Fisal Ally, I've explained the term, please visit www.fisalally.com for some free eBooks, and to learn the truth about the term "coolie"
Fisal Ally Nov 29, 2016
In Savitri's Garden, Chapter 8, I explained 3 definitions. 1) Coolie meaning porters, baggage carriers etc.. (unskilled labor)..These people were not promised to Guyana 2) Coolie meaning skilled agricultural labourers, e.g the Dhangurs from the hills (coolies or hill-coolies) of Chota Nagpur...These people were promised to the planters in British Guiana (Guyana) to cultivate their plantations.
Fisal Ally Nov 29, 2016
3) Indian of Various classes - People of all kinds of classes arrived in British Guiana in 1838 and not the coolies as were promised to cultivate the plantations. According to Sherif Whinfied in Berbice, there was not even one hill-coolie (coolie), meaning the experienced agricultural laborers in Guiana; the people came from places like Agra, Beneras, Lucknow etc...they were Indian of all classes
Fisal Ally Nov 29, 2016
The main things to understand is, the planters were serious about getting good workers, and this is why Gladstone and his friends were promised the "hill-coolies" or short "coolies" from the hills of Chota Nagpur because of their skills in agriculture and that could handle the conditions...they were not promised porters (useless for the fields), but the recruiters grabbed anybody from the north...
Fisal Ally Nov 29, 2016
The recruiters grabbed anybody they could fool and kidnapped and put them on the ship...these people were not from the coolie class, they were cooks, clerks, priests, beggars etc...However, because they planters were expecting the "hill-coolies" (coolies) skilled agricultural labourers, they thought the "coolies" arrived...but they did not arrive..the wrong class arrived, but the name coolie stuck
Fisal Ally Nov 29, 2016
In other words, there were no coolies that arrived in Guyana. If the coolies did arrive, they were very little like under 10%. And you could conclude the same for Jamaica, Trinidad and everywhere else in the world. However, in Mauritius, many Hill-coolies (coolies) from the hills did arrive there, because the planters were serious, and would ship back the unskilled labourers to India....
Fisal Ally Nov 29, 2016
Summary - So when we speak of "coolie" for Guyana, we are not speaking of porters etc.., we are only speaking of the skilled agricultural labourers. Why would the planters ask for porters, when they could request the skilled agricultural labourers? However, they did not arrive. It was Indians of various classes that arrived in Guyana and the Caribbean, and not Indians from the coolie class ...
Fisal Ally Dec 06, 2016
Back in the 1800s, when the planters were speaking of coolies to cultivate the sugar plantations in Mauritius, British Guiana (Guyana), Jamaica, Trinidad etc...They were only speaking of the skilled and experienced agricultural laborers also called coolies. They were not speaking of baggage carriers and porters. The whole internet is messed up, along with many books, using the wrong definition...
Fisal Ally Dec 06, 2016
For example, because Mauiritius is very close to India, when the recruiters tried to ship anybody such as a cook, a clerk, a beggar, the planters would get upset and ship them back to India because they were not experienced in agriculture. The planters knew that people that had no agricultural experience will soon run away from the plantation; now apply that to Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad.
Fisal Ally Dec 06, 2016
The coolies the planters were referring to back in 1838 were the hill-coolies (coolies from the hills of Chota Nagpur - often meaning the Dhangurs) because they were already trained and experienced agricultural workers in India working the British Indigo plantations. They can get the work done. They were not speaking of unskilled labourers such as baggage carriers and porters;
Fisal Ally Dec 06, 2016
But what happened is, for example, because there was 1838 famine in norther india, there were many people migrating for work, and the recruiters (duffadars and arkatis) would grab anybody they can trick and fool and put them on the ship to Guyana. However, the planters in Britain didn't know that. The planters in Britain though that the experienced agricultural labourers were heading for Guyana...
Fisal Ally Dec 06, 2016
so the planters thought that the coolies (hill-coolies) were in Guyana. Many died because they could not do the hard work. The Anti-Slavery Society tried to cancel the contract and have all the Indians shipped back to India because of the high death rate.But the word coolie got stuck - it's a misnomer.The Indians that arrived in Guyana, Trinidad, Jamica were not coolies...but the label got stuck
Heyy Dec 12, 2016
I'm proud to be a COOLIE
Deo Jan 14, 2017
Coolie is derogatory preiod
Satman aka Coolie 1 Jan 17, 2017
Greeting all. I use it as my name and live to redefine the meaning. I have embraced it with love during my stay abroad as a way to stand out and stay grounded to my identity. I can spit a Brit and US accent but I don't give the word(s) negative power over me. If you think it offensive, teach your younger ones by encouraging them NOT to use it. It has become a term of endearment/endorsement to me.
Bridget Jan 22, 2017
The word"coolie" as a reference to Indian people is equally equivalent to calling a black man the "N" word.
NoWisdom Jan 27, 2017
Apples and oranges
Emma Jan 27, 2017
"Satman aka Coolie 1" you're right about not giving words[people etc] negative power over us. Amen
Chat on.... Feb 07, 2017
Okay are we done with this discission
KNO6WLEDGE Feb 08, 2017
Jamaicans are not the only ones that used it in that way other Caribbean islands say it as well
KNO6WLEDGE Feb 08, 2017
Jamaicans are not the only ones that used it in that way other Caribbean islands say it as well
Chainz Feb 15, 2017
I accidentally referred to a Trini girl as 'coolie' and it was an issue. Just to say, the word coolie is accepted as a normal word in Guyana so I just have to watch my tongue when speaking otherwise. My view is that different regions have different meanings to words. No single definition is the correct one.
Chukalunka Feb 18, 2017
Please do not even say this word. It is derogatory. Like the "N" word. Jamaicans especially need an education on using this word. They think its normal. In fact people do not go around calling someone by their ethnic name. I do not go around and call someone "hey negro" or "white man over there"... I am sometimes being called "Indian". Love and respect for others changes it all.
Jamaican Mar 07, 2017
coolie means load carrier but its a derogatory term used to describe people of indian descent, because after slavery blacks didnt wan't to work on plantations so they brought in the indians.
Maya Apr 03, 2017
Why do Nigro ppl hair get hard fast?
Greenz Apr 04, 2017
A person who is of Indian descent is a coolie.
errol kydd Apr 18, 2017
im a born british from high wycombe, england my family are from st vincent with indian background i see my self as coolie since ive been growning up the name indian didnt really exist to me
Shane Apr 19, 2017
Once you have they will call you coolie😂
Shane Apr 19, 2017
Once you have curly hair they will call you coolie😂
Fisal Ally Apr 23, 2017
I made some notes on coolie back in Nov 2016...The term coolie is a misnomer, in the way the term Indian becomes the name for Native Americans. This began when "Coolies" were promised to the British Guiana (Guyana) planters to enter Guyana in 1838 to work in agriculture. They were only speaking of the coolies from the hills of Chota Nagpur (northwest of Calcutta). Part 1
Fisal Ally Apr 23, 2017
Part II. The people in the hills were already trained by the British and others to work in agriculture, and they were skilled experienced agricultural labourers. This is where the term coolie comes from. Because they were in the hills, they were known as the "Hill Coolies." There were coolies from the lower land, but they were not preferred. They ones in the hills were preferred because of experie
Fisal Ally Apr 23, 2017
Part III. So the term coolie already originated in India for this group of experienced agricultural labourers. But what happened is, the hills were being depleted of coolies for Mauritius, and the recruiters (Duffadars and recruiters) tricked anyone from the north from places like Allahabad, Agra Behar, Beneras to come down to Calcutta and board the ships. So they shipped the wrong class
Fisal Ally Apr 23, 2017
Part IV - You can read the book "Savtri's Garden" - But the planters thought they got coolies, but they were not coolies, they shipped mainly unskilled labourers of all classes such as priests, cooks, etc...and not the agricultural labourers who were given the name Coolie - SO STOP LYING TO YOURSELVES YOUR ANCESTERS WERE NOT THE EXPERIENCED AGRICULTURISTS (NOT COOLIES)
Marko Apr 24, 2017
Wow. Y'all same family The oldest tribes of Jews ( the real ones) Migrated to India and other parts Africa and on to the Americas and Caribbean. We are dark, some fair, mostly Brown and black. Just like us coolies. The original slaves who are also ( negro) i.e.... Hebrew. Also known as westindian, Guyanese , yard man, pInt is most coolies and negroes are Hebrews who migrated new lands
ZZZZOUDI May 06, 2017
Coolie doesn't mean anything
ZZZZOUDI May 06, 2017
Coolie doesn't mean anything
ZZZZOUDI May 06, 2017
Coolie doesn't mean anything
ZZZZOUDI May 06, 2017
Coolie doesn't mean anything
ZZZZOUDI May 06, 2017
Coolie doesn't mean anything
Day May 06, 2017
Since I could remember i was told that I was a beautiful coolie. I honestly don't see how our ancestors could offend a person who has some of the same attributes. If your a coolie I think that you should embrace it. Peace and love
NoWisdom May 18, 2017
Why is it that Jamaicans and other islands refer to light skinned people and darker skinned people as coolie, is it just because they have nicer hair
Beckles May 19, 2017
What are you saying????
Daisy Jun 01, 2017
What the heck is good hair! Why are people in this 21st century still ignorant? Why, Why, Why!
Indian gyul Jun 17, 2017
If you are of indian descent you are a coolie thats just how it is known.
KSH Jul 10, 2017
I DONT GET IT!!
Dreshaun Jul 19, 2017
Nuh seh nothing
Jonail Jul 22, 2017
We should all just remember that no one is better then anyone. We are all here for the same thing it dosent matter..what ever the word is just be respectful. Different places different things.. just be aware of ur surrounding.and watch what u say wen ur around others..
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