Since 2006, U.S. presidents have issued proclamations declaring the month of June Caribbean American Heritage Month.
In June 2005, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted H. Con. Res. 71, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, recognizing the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States. On February 14, 2006, the resolution similarly passed the Senate, culminating a two-year, bipartisan and bicameral effort. The Proclamation was issued by President George Bush on June 6, 2006.
Two-faced racist Donald Trump has continued that tradition. But it was just a few months ago when he referred to countries in Africa and parts of the Caribbean, like Haiti, as “shitholes.”
Haitians protested, and CARICOM responded with outrage, as did the vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles:
“Haiti’s Caribbean vision illuminated America’s way out of its colonial darkness. This is the debt President Trump’s America owes Toussaint L’Ouverture’s Haiti. It’s a debt of philosophical clarity and political maturity. It’s a debt of how to rise to its best human potential. It’s a debt of exposure to higher standards. Haiti is really America’s Statue of Liberty.
“The president’s truth making troops might not know, and probably care little for the fact that Haitian people were first in this modern world to build a nation completely free of the human scourge of slavery and native genocide. It might be worthless in their world view that Haiti’s leadership made the Caribbean the first civilization in modernity to criminalize and constitutionally uproot such crimes against humanity and to proceed with sustainability to build a nation upon the basis of universal freedom,” Beckles said.
“Haiti was and will remain this hemisphere’s mother of modern democracy; and the Caribbean, the cradle of the first ethical civilization. For President Trump, therefore, to define the Caribbean’s noble heroes of human freedom, whose sacrifice empowered and enlightened his nation in its darkest days, as a site of human degradation is beyond comprehension. It is a brutal bashing of basic truths that are in need, not of violation, but celebration,” he continued.
Trump is deporting Caribbean people who live in the U.S. and has declined to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians.
The Department of Homeland Security was sued over the 'racially motivated' decision to rescind protected status for Haitians.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over its decision to rescind the temporary protective status for Haitian immigrants.
“The action by the Department of Homeland Security to rescind TPS [temporary protective status] for Haitian immigrants is clearly racially motivated,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in organization’s press release. “The U.S. Constitution prohibits singling out certain immigrants for harsh treatment based on their skin color and/or ethnicity. But more than that, basic fairness militates against this draconian action taken by DHS under the direction of President Trump.”
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are in the Caribbean, and we know the tragic results of Trump’s indifference and neglect there.
I looked at some of the responses to the White House tweet, like this one:
As you can imagine, lots of them wanted to know what he was going to do about Puerto Rico, and also pointed out that he had disappeared “Pride Month” (again).
I didn’t get around to reading his actual proclamation until two days ago. Much of it was boiler-plate, and seemed partially borrowed from those issued earlier by President Obama. However, there were a few points that struck a jarring note.
The reference to “their tremendous athleticism” seemed to be culled from a racial stereotype 101 text.
Of all the famous Caribbean-Americans in our history to choose from, he first honored white slave-holder Dr. William Thornton:
As trailblazers, Americans with Caribbean roots have sewn their own unique thread into the fabric of our Nation. Dr. William Thornton, a native of the British Virgin Islands, designed the United States Capitol and is generally considered the first “Architect of the Capitol”.
He did mention Chicago’s founder, Jean Baptiste du Sable, but not that he was black. Also missing: any mention of slavery.
Absent were any references to political ties or diplomatic objectives. That’s not surprising, since he has not attended CARICOM or the Summit of the Americas (he sent Ivanka and Pence) and has a dysfunctional State Department with a slew of empty posts.
He’s really good at picking losers—like the Trump ambassador nominee who spread conspiracy theories about Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
President Trump’s nominee to serve as the ambassador to Barbados and other Caribbean nations spread conspiracy theories about Trump’s political opponents during the 2016 presidential race, CNN reported Monday.
Leandro Rizzuto Jr. shared tweets during the GOP primary that claimed that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was having an affair and that his wife, Heidi, was leading an effort to merge the governments of the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Another retweet from Rizzuto’s account showed former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney with the word “dumbass” and claimed that Romney, a Mormon, “will go to hell” on the same day he ripped then-nominee Trump in a speech.
Trump tapped Rizzuto, a senior executive at Conair, last month to serve as the ambassador to Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Rizzuto would have to be confirmed by the Senate
One of the early diplomatic trips President Obama took after his election was to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in April 2009 to the fifth Summit of the Americas, where he also met with CARICOM officials.
I went back and read each Obama proclamation from 2010 thru 2016. Here are some excerpts:
Throughout our history, immigrants from Caribbean countries have come to our shores seeking better lives and opportunities.
Others were brought against their will in the bonds of slavery.
All have strived to ensure their children could achieve something greater and have preserved the promise of America for future generations.
Caribbean Americans have shaped every aspect of our society -- enhancing our arts and humanities as titans of music and literature, spurring our economy as intrepid entrepreneurs, making new discoveries as scientists and engineers, serving as staunch advocates for social and political change, and defending our ideals at home and abroad as leaders in our military. Their achievements exemplify the tenacity and perseverance embedded in our national character, and their stories embody the fundamental American idea that when access to opportunity is equal, anyone can make it if they try.
As we reflect on the myriad ways Caribbean Americans have shaped our country, we join in commemorating the 50th anniversaries of independence in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and we reaffirm the bonds of friendship we share with our Caribbean neighbors.
Together, as a Nation of immigrants, we will keep writing that story. And alongside our partners throughout the Caribbean, we will keep working to achieve inclusive economic growth, access to clean and affordable energy, enhanced security, and lasting opportunity for all our people. As we honor Caribbean Americans this month, let us strengthen the ties that bind us as members of the Pan American community, and let us resolve to carry them forward in the years ahead.
It is also a time to renew our friendship with our Caribbean neighbors, with whom we share both an ocean and a history. To this end, the United States is expanding cooperation with our Caribbean partners as we promote social justice, grow prosperity throughout the Americas, and create new educational opportunities for young people across the Caribbean basin, as well as for Caribbean Americans in our own communities. We are also working to advance commonsense immigration reform that will allow future generations of Caribbean Americans to share their talents with our Nation.
For centuries, Americans have been united with our Caribbean neighbors not just by friendship and economic cooperation, but also by our common values and ties of kin. From a region of extraordinary beauty, generations of immigrants have brought their enormous spirit, unique talents, and vibrant culture to the United States. Their contributions have enriched our Nation and strengthened the deep bonds between our peoples. This month, we celebrate the Caribbean Americans whose legacies are woven into the fabric of our Nation, and we reaffirm our belief that throughout the region, we all share a stake in one another's success.
As partners, our nations have reached for progress together, and in our diverse cultures and complex histories, we see a common trajectory toward a more free, equal, and prosperous community. Throughout the Caribbean, courageous peoples have thrown off the yoke of colonial rule, seizing the right to chart their own destinies, and they have overcome the stains of slavery and segregation to widen the circle of opportunity for all. Here in America, Caribbean Americans have followed in the footsteps of their ancestors, joining their voices with the chorus of patriots and carrying forward the baton of justice -- from the battlefield and the outfield, in places like Selma and Seneca Falls, and through powerful song, poetry, and prose.
Just as our nations' pasts are shared, our futures are inextricably linked. As millions of Caribbean Americans continue to innovate and thrive in the United States, my Administration is committed to lifting up hardworking individuals throughout the Caribbean and partnering with governments to build the foundation for the next century of progress and prosperity. We are investing in young business leaders and civil society activists, working to expand what is possible for the next generation of Caribbean leaders, and supporting entrepreneurship, student exchanges, and more effective job training. With new partnerships, we are helping to move the region toward cleaner, more affordable energy. And as the United States begins to normalize our relations with Cuba, we have the potential to empower a nation and end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere.
America is and always has been a Nation of immigrants, and today -- as pillars of family and leaders in their communities -- Caribbean Americans strengthen every aspect of our society. We must ensure our Nation remains a magnet for the best and the brightest around the world. Because of my 2012 DACA policy, thousands of DREAMers from the Caribbean have been able to live up to their potential, and last year, I announced my intent to take action that would allow more high-skilled immigrants, graduates, entrepreneurs, and families to contribute to our economy, including by expanding the existing DACA policy and creating a new policy to provide temporary relief to certain undocumented parents of American citizens and lawful permanent residents. And I continue to call on the Congress to finish the job by passing comprehensive immigration reform.
The United States is committed to working with the nations of the Caribbean to advance security, liberty, and prosperity. That is why we have begun a new chapter in our relationship with Cuba -- extending a new hand of friendship to the Cuban people that offers fresh hope for both our futures and will improve the lives of those living in both our countries. My Administration also introduced the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative to provide higher education exchanges to students across the Western Hemisphere, and we launched the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps in the Americas and to give emerging entrepreneurs and civil society leaders the resources they need to reach their full potential. In harnessing the spirit and boldness of young people in the Caribbean and throughout the Americas, and in channeling their creativity and innovation, we can continue to build on the progress we have made. And by carrying out Jamaican-American poet Claude McKay's call to "strive on to gain the height although it may not be in sight," we can enable more young people, here at home and throughout the Caribbean, to reach for the change that is within their grasp.
The current White House occupant will continue to ignore the Caribbean and Caribbean-Americans , except when it comes to focusing on kicking folks out of here. Last week, he managed to hold a press conference with FEMA and (of course) did not address the ongoing tragedy in Puerto Rico.
We cannot expect him to give a damn about the rest of our neighbors.
Since the mainstream media will only pay attention to the Caribbean if there’s a hurricane or other natural disaster (and then only briefly), I’ve decided to spend more time writing about it here on Daily Kos. I will continue to write about Puerto Rico but would like to ensure that readers know the difference between Barbuda and Barbados (an error made by media outlets during Hurricane Irma).
Few blogs other than special interest ones pay any attention to Caribbean history, culture, news, and views. Each week here at Daily Kos, there are usually news articles in Black Kos about the Caribbean posted by founder and editor-in-chief David Reid, who is Caribbean-American.
If it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve been teaching about the Caribbean for close to 20 years and did graduate study on that area, I doubt I would know much about the islands or the surrounding Caribbean basin mainland areas. I certainly learned next to nothing about it in grade school or high school.
Back in September 2017, after Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria, I wrote “The Caribbean, the U.S., and how their past and present are intertwined,” and included a little map quiz.
I teach a college course about the Caribbean. Each semester I introduce it with this statement: “From the perspective of the average resident on the U.S. mainland, the Caribbean is the place that hurricanes pass over on their way to Florida, or a glossy advertisement for Carnival Cruises touting pristine beaches and fun in the sun.” With that said, I pass out blank outline maps of the Caribbean basin and ask students to fill in as many names as they can.
In a class of about 30 students, one-third of whom have family ties to the Caribbean, few can identify more than four islands or basin nations, and I frequently have students who can identify none (not even the bottom half of Florida, located in the upper left hand corner of the map). Click on the link above, try it yourself, and check out your results below.
If you have a little spare time, test yourself.
We don’t have exact data on how many Caribbean Americans live here on the U.S. mainland, though the Census Bureau has a “stats for stories” page, using community survey data from 2016.
Efforts to push the Census Bureau to change their data collection methodology have been underway for some time. Much of that push has come from CaribID, a group founded by Felicia Persaud.
Caribbean-American elected officials are being urged to speak up on new US Census changes by the Donald Trump administration that could cost them their jobs.
Felicia J. Persaud, the founder of CaribID, the historic initiative launched in 2009 to get Caribbean nationals accurately counted by the US government, said she is appalled by the deafening silence so far from many Caribbean born and Caribbean-Americans in elected office across the US, to the Trump administration’s racist decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.
Such a move will not only result in the further under-count of the Caribbean and other immigrant populations already living in fear of Trump’s immigration round-ups, but it will lead to serious redistricting, which will leave many Caribbean and immigrant elected officials possibly out of a job, said Persaud.
I look forward to continuing to exploring the Caribbean with readers, and hope those of you who have visited or are of Caribbean ancestry will share your experiences.
I’ll be spending today watching the livestream of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, where 2 million people will gather to celebrate, protest, and mourn. I’ll do the same at the end of the summer, when it’s time for the West Indian Day Parade.