In my conviction, I believe it is time that Caribbean-Americans be given a voice in America’s public affairs and; more so, inside the international arena.
Indeed, it was a prodigious journey for West Indian migration to the United States yet many have advanced to soaring heights we never imagined would have been possible. Some have even played a pivotal role in the development of the United States of America.
Looking back at the copious history of this important group to America and how they unwaveringly subscribed to, and committed their chief energies to America’s affluent cultures and more so, its social, political and economic success. According to historians, the Caribbean was the source of the U.S. primary and biggest black settlers and the birthplace of growth of the black population in the U.S. . This black population comprised migrants from countries such as Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and to some extent, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
In fact, the American Civil War in 1865, which spawned the abolition of slavery, has to a great extent fascinated Caribbean-Americans who have excelled in multiple facets of American life, a phenomenon we now describe as the “American Dream”.
A few noteworthy persons have lived this “American Dream” including Bahamian comedian Bert Williams, Barbadian Pastor Joseph Sanford Atwell – the first Black man after the Civil War to be ordained in the Episcopal Church. Another individual worth noting is Neil deGrasse Tyson who is of a Puerto Rican descent and is an astrophysicist, author and science communicator. The famous Malcolm X, with Grenadian parentage was a human rights activist. Don’t forget Sidney Poitier, who holds an Academy Award for Best Actor and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. Many more Caribbean-Americans thrive within the American society; Colin PowelL, a politician and four-star general from Jamaica; Dr. Roy Hastick, Sr. President and Founder of Caribbean-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc, (CACCI); Cicely Tyson, actress and fashion model; Nevis, Jennifer Carroll, politician and naval officer from Trinidad and Tobago – all of whom have contributed enormously to the American brand.
Still, there is the period, which I refer to as the neo-slavery era. It is a period when thousands of Caribbean immigrants were legally employed to work on sugar cane plantations in Florida under the W2 workers’ program.
However, at the birth of the 21st century, in 2016, according to the U.S. census, West Indian Americans of the civilian employed population acquired jobs in management, science, business, the services sector, arts, sales, construction, natural resources, production, among a horde of other sectors. To date there are almost four million Blacks in the U.S. from Caribbean ancestors – enough to have a voice.
It is time that Caribbean-Americans join in unison to address the issues confronting their ancestral homes and help to forge the way forward in merging their resources: tourism, agriculture, energy sources, culture, security, politics and economies of the Caribbean.
However, for this to bear fruits, this unheard-of group must first confront some of the burning issues they face at home – especially racism.