Before the internet made it so that one space could represent the entire world, the Caribbean already had that mission accomplished. They did hundreds of years ago in fact. You see, although it was not entirely by choice, folks from all over the old world found their way to the islands as part of the development of the “new world”. The Caribbean, with it’s tight quarters and rich resources, became the go-to place for wealthy Europeans who needed sugar for their tea.
The wealthy folks in Europe sent their staffs to the islands to establish and grow their empires. Entrepreneurial Europeans moved to the Americas too, but those lands were so expansive that anyone who went there could pretty much continue to stay among their own communities and never mix with another ethnicity if they didn’t want to, a reality that to some extent sadly remains true today.
Back then though, these sugar guys, they needed labor and they got it by a few different, and some questionable means. They sent “recruiters” to Africa – yadda yadda yadda, and so WE ended up with a large African population in these sugar plantation zones.
Today, the black community remains the largest in much of the region, so folks not from the Caribbean often expect us all to be around my complexion. The reality is that the Caribbean community comprises people of African, Latin, European, Indian, Asian and Middle Eastern Descent. We’ve become a melting pot, a pot pourri of sorts. Sometimes distinguishable, sometimes not. To outsiders folks like Shaggy, Sean Paul and Tessanne are phenomena because they are light skinned with Jamaican accents. To us, they’re the folks next door.
While American “multiculturalism” comprises small ethnic groups clumped up among themselves and spread out across 3.794 million square miles – in the islands, wherever you came from, you’re one one of us. You can’t get too far away from the rest of us – unless you’re a really good swimmer. On this week’s episode of the Caribbean Diaspora Weekly, I’ll get into the mixed up hodgepodge that we’ve become.
To watch the extended perspective and much more on Caribbean America, set your DVR or tune in to each Sunday’s episode of The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly on SFL / The CW Network (Ch 39 / Comcast 11). Catch replays on the website at www.thecaribbeandiaspora.tv. Calibe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.