Caribbean-American Heritage Month

Caribbean-American Heritage Month
Conservative estimates put the number of Caribbean people living in the United States in excess of six million. However there is some evidence that this number is declining. June is declared by presidential acclamation, as Caribbean –American Heritage Month. During this period, in some states, one island is highlighted and there are cultural activities that promote the presence of its citizens. While we pour no cold water on how these events are organized, we believe that more should be done to give the Caribbean a bigger focus. However, we realize that many Caribbean citizens in America have limited time to immerse themselves in their communities. Working and living in a foreign land have never been easy and our communities and culture are often unfortunate victims. We are also aware that there are many petty issues, that hamper real community development and many organizations find great difficulty in harnessing the necessary human resources needed to push their communities forward. There is also the question of how different groups of Caribbean people push their individual communities. For example, our Cuban and Haitian brothers and sisters operate from a level of political/social activism that is not immediately understood by those from the other English speaking islands. Hence it is somewhat difficult to unite for a month, when in many instances, there has been a real disconnect. To put it mildly, we simply do not know enough about each other. We fully expect and are optimistic that before we can make our collective presence felt, we need to organize ourselves better at home. Therefore it is vital for CARICOM and the dream of a fully united Caribbean nation to bear bountiful fruit that will automatically benefit those in the Diaspora. The historical link of the Afro Caribbean and Afro American should also be brought to centre stage during this period. However again, we are forced to be blunt and admit that these links are not fully utilized. Against this background, we urge all Caribbean community leaders, to push on with their programs but be aware that there is much work to be done in several areas. There is substantial proof that America has been good to members of the Caribbean Diaspora. It is also equally evident that Caribbean citizens have made outstanding contributions America. All indications are that future Caribbean Americans will continue to emerge. From Marcus Garvey to Colin Powell and Shirley Chisholm, the evidence is compelling. We can also include Harry Belafonte and Maya Angelou. Caribbean roots run deep in America and it has been so from the days of slavery up to this very moment. We therefore join with all those in the Diaspora, who are keeping this undeniable truth alive during Caribbean American Heritage month and urge participation in all planned activities.
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