You can imagine my surprise when in response to my first SFLTimes Op Ed on being Caribbean American rather than African American, a reader informed me that I should be grateful for all that African Americans have done to pave the way for us “aliens” to be here. I never meant to start a war with anyone. I did mean to start a conversation about celebrating our uniqueness and differences. I personally believe everyone from every culture should celebrate the things that make them exceptional.
That said, I recently discovered that the word “exceptionalism” does not, by definition, imply superiority. But conservative American writers have promoted its use in that way and that’s how I want to use it to start another conversation. I want to talk about Caribbean Exceptionalism – that something about our people that makes us extraordinary.
It’s funny that as proud and exceptional as we Caribbean folks often are individually, we don’t generally talk about ourselves that way as a community. But we should. As a region, even as individual countries, I’m not sure what I can point to us doing that’s super spectacular. But our sons and daughters individually, at home and abroad, certainly are doing exceptional things, and have been for generations.
From sportsmen like the now omnipresent Jamaican Usain Bolt, and Trinidadian Olympic champion Ato Boldon, who was the featured interview on the premier episode of The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly, to political powerhouses like Barbadian Attorney General Eric Holder and world class entertainers like Beyoncé Knowles of Bahamian heritage, Caribbean blood runs in every echelon of popular culture and societal influence. The list of names I referred to in the perspective is pretty extensive. I’d say for a few tiny islands that are still referred to as “third world countries”, we’re pretty amazing.
Watch the premier episode of The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly on our website, to explore some of the reasons I think we excel wherever we go. Set your DVR or go to early church service and be home by 11:30AM so you don’t miss each Sunday’s episode on SFL / The CW Network (Ch 39 / Comcast 11).Calibe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.