Updated: Jul 1, 2021
*THIS POST FEATURED CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES ALPHABETICALLY FROM HAITI TO US VIRGIN ISLANDS*
Did you know that June is National Caribbean-American Heritage Month? Although not as well-known as Black History Month, we have a whole month to celebrate the contributions of Caribbean Americans to the diversity of American culture. We've been making contributions to this country since its founding with the first Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, who stems from Nevis. Our contributions have continued with civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois, whose grandfather was born in Long Cay, Bahamas and his father was born in Haiti -- the history no one tells you. Did you know that the first Black woman to run as a candidate for President of the United States is from Guyanese and Bajan descent? If we fast forward to the present day, we also have Secretary of State Colin Powell (with roots from Jamaica); Cicely Tyson (with roots from St. Kitts and Nevis); and Sidney Poitier (with roots in Bahamas). Our most famous Caribbean American is currently our Vice President - Kamala Harris, making history as the first woman, the first Black, AND the first Asian Vice President. YASSS!
Clearly as Caribbean Americans, we are killing it right now! As a Haitian American, I am proud of my Caribbean roots. I am still honored that I was part of the inaugural National 30 under 30 Caribbean American Emerging Leaders & Changemakers by the Institute of Caribbean Studies, who helped pioneer this month.
Caribbeans are a vibrant part of the American melting pot. Take June to celebrate the heritage, history, and cultural diversity of Caribbean Americans. Take time to explore the traditions Caribbean-Americans carry with them.
Did you know there is some debate on which countries are considered part of the Caribbean? That also depends on whether we are referring to geography or culture. For example, Bermuda and Bahamas are not geographically in the Caribbean, but are very much so culturally. Below is a map to give you a frame of reference.
The Institute of Caribbean Studies’ (ICS) effort to establish National Caribbean American Heritage Month (NCAHM) began in 1999 with outreach to President Bill Clinton asking for the recognition of August as National Caribbean American Heritage Month. This resulted in the first White House Caribbean American Community Briefing being held at the Clinton White House in 1999. In 2000, ICS began leading activities in celebration of June as Caribbean American Heritage Month in Washington DC, building on those efforts from the year before. However, the official campaign for a National Caribbean American Heritage Month began in 2004 when a legislative bill was tabled in Congress by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. The Bill was reintroduced and passed the House in June 2005 and the Senate in February 2006. A Proclamation making the resolution official was signed by President George W. Bush on June 5, 2006.
Since the declaration, the White House has issued an annual proclamation recognizing June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month. 2021 year marks the thirteenth anniversary of June being declared as National Caribbean American Heritage Month.
CENSUS QUICK FACTS:
As of June 2018, the Caribbean-American population of the United States was almost 13.2 million (Note that these populations are not mutually exclusive, as people may be of more than one ancestry or ethnic group). Some of the largest Caribbean ancestry groups in the U.S. include:
5.8 million Puerto Ricans
2.4 million Cubans
2.0 million Dominicans
1.1 million Jamaicans
1 million Haitians
208,000 Trinidadians and Tobagonians
19,000 U.S. Virgin Islanders
HOW TO OBSERVE
Observe it similarly to how you would observe Black History Month:
Share your experiences and knowledge during National Caribbean-American Heritage month.
Learn the history of immigration from the Caribbean by visiting museums and exhibits.
Talk with friends and family members and learn about their experiences and culture.
Support Caribbean businesses -- eat food from Caribbean owned restaurants; spend your money at Caribbean-owned businesses
Visit the Caribbean & support locals -- go beyond the resorts! Take a tour from a local Caribbean guide.
Follow, like, and engage with the content by Caribbean creators.
Use #CaribbeanAmericanHeritageMonth to share on social media.
One way I plan to celebrate National Caribbean American Heritage Month is by amplifying the voices of Caribbean people from as many islands as possible through a special series of blog posts.
This year's theme is Our Shared History, Our Shared Future. The commemoration of Caribbean American Heritage Month aims to remind Americans that our greatness lies in our diversity. I hope to display this diversity by featuring recommendations by dope content creators stemming from the Caribbean in this blog post!
Table of Contents:
Haiti: Hiking to visit La Citadelle Laferrière
Recommended by Bea of @haitiancutiebea
*AN ABSOLUTE MUST IT IS RECOMMENDED TWICE!*
Ricahrd's Why: Hands down, visiting the Citadelle Laferrière should be a rite of passage on every visit to Haiti; it is the biggest symbol of freedom & a testament to how far our ancestors would go to protect our nation at all cost.
Bea's Why: Located on the Cap-Haïtien portion of the island, the Citadelle reminds us of Haiti’s history when it comes to the strength and battle my people had to put forward for their freedom.
Jamaica: Chill out at Pelican Bar
Recommended by Lisa of @shakespeareagency
Why: One of my favorite must-sees on the island is Pelican Bar, which is located in the parish of St. Elizabeth. It’s a bit further south from the usual tourist spots, but it’s such a dope experience. It’s literally a thatched wood bar out in the middle of the ocean on a sandbar, where you can stand and swim, listen to music, play dominions, have a drink and even eat food. Definitely a must do when in Jamaica!
Martinique: Hike at the Savane des Pétrifications
Recommended by by Willy of @willyjosephlouis
Connect: Shop | Website
Why: A must do is a hike at the « Savane des pétrifications ». You start at the Salines Beach and hike for 45min in a kind of really dry area on the coast line. You can see petrified trees and you have a very nice cliff. The goal of that hike is to arrive at a beach that not a lot of people go to called the English Bay (La Baie des Anglais). When you arrive, you get a panoramic view of that deserted beach, really wild and remote. I find that really beautiful!
Montserrat: Hike a Trail on the Island
Recommended by by Jo of @journeywithjo_
Why: Since I love being active, I love to recommend the hiking trails on the island. There are a variety of trails. Depending on the level of difficulty getting to each of them,, you may be able to see breathtaking views that overlook both the land and sea. Try Blackwood Allen Trail, which overlooks the ocean and the villages in the North part of the country. You can also try The Cot, which goes through an old banana plantation and reaches a high elevation that overlooks the ocean. Finally, try Silver Hills Trail, which goes past the now extinct Silver Hill Volcano.
Puerto Rico: Walk around the Cobblestoned Steps of
Old San Juan in the Evening
Recommended by Jose of @jetsetjose
Why: It is difficult to narrow the list down to one thing that is a must-do in Puerto Rico, but for all who visit the island, spend at least one evening walking around the cobblestoned streets of Old San Juan. Old San Juan is the colonial section of the capital of the island and is bounded by the walls of an old fort. The colorful Caribbean buildings seem to be something out of a story book. The historic plazas and statues that depict important events in Puerto Rican history bring the island’s past to life. Once the sun begins to set, the romanticism of the area begins to take over. Spend the night dancing to the Caribbean music that plays out in the streets, all while enjoying cocktails from one of the world’s most renowned bars. Once you have enjoyed the magic of Puerto Rico, you will want to return to “The Island of Enchantment.”
Saint Kitts and Nevis: Take an ATV to Timothy Hill
Recommended by Shania of @tropicalbeau_
Why: When coming to St.Kitts, one should definitely try our local food - Cookup, Black Pudding. You must go on an ATV because it’s super fun and you get to see scenic views and historical sites such as Black Rocks while you’re at it! My favorite scenic view is on the SouthEast Peninsula, Timothy Hill where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea.
St. Lucia: Soak Yourself in the Sulphur Springs
Recommended by Kimberly of @kimberlyamy_
Why: When visiting Saint Lucia, you must take the time to go to the sulphur springs, use the mud from the baths to detox the body and treat sun burns and other skin concerns.
St. Maarten: Watching planes landing on Maho Beach & Strolling through murals in Philipsburg
Recommended by Riselle of @thetravelingislandgirl
Why: There are so many things that one must experience when here. However, I think the planes landing on Maho Beach are in the top 3 of must-sees - It is just such a special thing about our island. I would also add the murals in Philipsburg. Each one tells a story about our culture or history and they make for beautiful photo backdrops. After that, grab a lounge chair on the beach in town and enjoy a frozen drink and a swim.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines:
Relax at Sparrow's Beach Club
Recommended by Antoine of @antoinell2.0
Why: When visiting the island I advise to visit Sparrow’s Beach Club as it’s situated on my favorite beach, Big Sands Beach, aka “Water Break.’” The scenery is breathtaking. I consider this beach club my go to place for relaxation and of course, a great cocktail.
Suriname: Jumping into "Grang Dam"
Recommended by Gwamu of @gwamuginidi
Why: It's jumping in a small, but powerful waterfall...it's about surrendering and letting the water take you with it. AMAZING. I'll never do it again 🤣 but definitely one for the books!
Trinidad & Tobago: Take a tour of the Caroni Swamp, the Pitch Lake or Mud Volcano (Trinidad) & Ride a glass bottom boat to see the coral reef (Tobago)
Recommended by Tshenlle of @blessednelly
Why: For Trinidad, some may automatically say Carnival, but for me, I'd say take a tour of the Caroni Swamp, the Pitch Lake or Mud Volcano. There are so many amazing eco tourism destinations that I think aren't considered. As for Tobago, take a trip on a glass bottom boat to see the coral reef, or just drive around the island. There are so many amazing stops along the way!
Turks & Caicos Islands: Visit Conch Bar Cave
Recommended by Trisha of @uponmycurves
Why: When visiting my island, you have to visit the caves! The Conch Bar cave in Middle Caicos is a must see place to visit as it is one of the largest cave systems in the Caribbean and a very well preserved attraction. You can visit places in the cave called the Dark Room, Bat City and the Christmas Room. It is so much fun!
U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix:
Take a food tour with @vifoodtours
Recommended by Anquanette of @cruzanfoodie
Why: A must do activity is a food tour with @vifoodtours. It’s a guided food tasting and cultural walking tour that gives you 6 local tastings plus insight on St. Croix’s history, architecture & culture.
U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John: Try Local Food & Take a Tour
Recommended by A.Z.I. of @the.azi
Why: The island is filled with beautiful landscapes and food! Man! Have a paté, try a johnny cake, eat some fish and fungi, try it!
U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas: Try a conch patè
Recommended by SheRea of @shereadelsol
Why: I recommend everyone try a conch patè at least once from a local food truck. Similar to a latin empanada, a patè is a delicious treat