June is National Caribbean American Heritage Month – a time for celebrating the legacy of Caribbean immigrants and their descendants in American history and culture. Given the silence in the mainstream media, no one seems to care.
In her June 7th article, “It’s a Month to Celebrate Caribbean Immigrants but Who Really Cares?” Felicia J. Persaud – a New York-based, Guyana-born journalist and media entrepreneur – observes that the silence on NCAHM goes beyond media outlets. Not a word, she says, from the many Caribbean-American federal and state officials from across the country. Not even from celebrities like Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Jason Derulo, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Shaggy, and others. Persaud’s list goes on.
I understand Persaud’s concern that “if as Caribbean immigrants we show we don’t care about our own month, then no one else will.” Yet, I can appreciate the silence. We are not living in normal times, especially for immigrants from what our President denigrates as “shithole” countries. US Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are on the prowl for undocumented immigrants deemed animals, drug dealers, murderers, rapists, and terrorists. When one is targeted for verbal and physical abuse, incarceration, and deportation, one doesn’t go about waving a flag or twerking in a celebratory street carnival.
Our white American brothers and sisters in towns and cities devastated by the flight of American manufacturers are suffering. While the hopeless are killing themselves with opiate use, others are voicing their anger. They know not that we are all victims of a capitalist system that cannibalizes human and non-human life. A system that discards the useless and worthless. They know not how the free flow of capital and production sweeps across our once secure lives, leaving us struggling for footing and air.
In a recent interview with Karl Marlin of Truthout, Henry A. Giroux, an American and Canadian scholar and cultural critic, notes:
When selected elements of history are suppressed and historical consciousness and memory no longer provide insights into the workings of repression, exploitation and resistance, people are easily trapped in forms of historical and social amnesia that limit their sense of perspective, their understanding of how power works and the ways in which the elements of fascism sustain themselves in different practices.
As a Caribbean immigrant and writer in America, I plod forward in building bridges, however narrow or rickety. We all share the same humanity. As a fellow blogger and poet, Miriam Ivarsam, expresses so eloquently in her poem “Per Universum,”
Through universe we flow
and It through us.
Ever increasing harmony.
Happy NCAHM to my fellow Caribbean immigrants and Caribbean-Americans across this land that we love and call home!