Celebrating Caribbean-American Culture
Celebrating Caribbean-American Heritage
I Love My Roots & Culture
Everyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about my Jamaican heritage. I was born in the United States by chance and I guess a little bit of destiny but my heart belongs to my country of heritage which is Jamaica.
Growing up in the United States as a “Jamerican,” was not easy. I never felt like I really belonged because even though I was born here the American kids would remind me that I was Jamaican everyday and when I would go to Jamaica on family vacations, my family would refer to me as a Yankee. When you are growing up and trying to figure yourself out and you are being rejected by everything that you identify with, things can be quite confusing.
I always loved my Caribbean heritage because my mother raised me and my sisters immersed in our culture. She cooked Jamaican food, talked patois and we went to Jamaica on family vacations whenever it was possible. I never hid my heritage, everyone who knew me and my sisters knew we were Jamaican. However, it wasn’t until I got a little older that I confidently owned my identity and was able to proudly say, “I am a Jamaican who was born in America and I dare anyone to argue with me about who I am and where I say I come from. ”
A couple of years ago I met Kerry-Ann Reid through her podcast Carry on Friends where she was exploring this very topic. I was so happy to discover that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way and was having this annoying experience.
June was designated Caribbean American Heritage Month. Caribbean-American Heritage Month is celebrated by proclamation of the President and Congress in the United States to honor the achievements and contributions of Caribbean immigrants and their descendants living in the United States, particularly in government, sports, entertainment, and the arts. On a smaller scale we should celebrate each other and all that we are contributing to the world.
I would like to celebrate all the Caribbean American guests that have appeared on my podcast to share their stories of passion, purpose and struggle. Below I have highlighted a couple of my guests. I have also created a playlist on my Youtube page of all my Caribbean-American guests. Enjoy their rich stories and learn about all the ways they are contributing and living up to the hopes and dreams that brought all our parents to America.
Trinidad & Tobago
- When was the last time you visited T&T? February 2016
- What do you love the most about your heritage? The rich culture; from the pleasantries people exchange in the road, to the food, music, history, and traditions passed down through generations. I love it all.
- How do you celebrate your culture? By honoring it and acknowledging that it is part of what makes me who I am. I don’t tuck it away.
- How do you keep your culture alive in your family? Primarily with food, music, and those colloquialisms that are part of my every day vocabulary but are uniquely Trini. Making visits back home also does wonders for helping the younger generations connect to the islands. That’s what helped me.
- How do you represent your culture in your work? In my new children’s book, I mention a Trinbagonian food. In my artwork I love painting with the colors of the Trinidad & Tobago national flag as well as the flags of other Caribbean nations so that my customers can have a piece of art that represents their culture as well. *Check out Rhea’s artwork at www.artbyrhea.com
Trish Ahjel Roberts
Jamaica & St. Lucia
- When was the last time you visited Jamaica or St. Lucia? I’ve never been to Jamaica although my father was born there! I visited St. Lucia when I was a teenager and met some of my family.
- What do you love the most about your heritage? I love the West Indian Day Parade/Carnival in Brooklyn, NY where I grew up, and the music, costumes and joy of Afro-Caribbean heritage.
- How do you celebrate your culture?I enjoy my Afro-Caribbean culture in my music, food and fashion.
- How do you keep your culture alive in your family? We enjoy vegan versions of traditional Caribbean meals (ackee and green banana, cassava, plantains, patties, sorrel, ginger beer, sea moss, etc.) and music (reggae, soca, dancehall, calypso) at home. 5. How do you represent your culture in your work? My middle name is rooted in my mother’s French-speaking St. Lucian heritage. My first book, Chocolate Soufflé is a depiction of Caribbean-American immigrants in NYC. The main protagonist is St. Lucian. On a daily basis, I bring a touch of Afro-Caribbean energy and perspective to my work. It’s who I am. *Check out Trish’s new photo timeline and find out more about her life’s journey at TrishAhjelRoberts.com/about
- When was the last time you visited Jamaica? 2017
- What do you love most about your heritage? The culture and history is amazing! The natural beauty of Jamaica and the Caribbean is unrivalled anywhere around the world.
- How do you celebrate your culture? Mostly by passing down customs to my children.
- How do you keep your culture alive in your family? Passing down customs to my children In addition to traditional customs such as holidays, food, etc.
- How do you represent your culture in your work? It’s always portrayed in my writing for example in my book Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons To Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness. In addition the Holistic Wealth podcast with Keisha Blair features several guests with Caribbean heritage. *To learn more about Keisha visit www.keishablair.com