What Is Afro-Caribbean Culture?
Afro-Caribbean culture blends elements of people’s Caribbean heritage with their African roots. The culture is heavily steeped in spirituality and stems from different religions of their African ancestors and European colonizers. Many of the Afro-Caribbean cultural beliefs and practices are incredibly influential in every aspect of life whether it’s getting dressed in your Sunday best or the community raising the children. Elements of Afro-Caribbean culture demonstrate a variety of cultural adaptations depending on their unique experiences on different islands including Rastafari culture and the Maroons in Jamaica or Haitian Vodou. Afro-Caribbean culture is celebrated worldwide for great traditions like carnival in Trinidad and Tobago, merging the best of dance, cultural nuances and music. Carnival and other festivals are celebrations that honor their ancestors and were initially created following emancipation after centuries of colonization by European countries including Spain, France and Britain.
Afro-Caribbean culture is also steeped in creativity and that creativity has led to the evolution of many notable names that have contributed to cultural significance in North America. From James Weldon Johnson, the co-creator/co-author of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — also known as the Black National Anthem — to Nobel Peace Prize-winning playwright, Derek Walcott, there are several notable Black people who have made a strong impact on not only Afro-Caribbean culture but Black culture as a whole.
There’s also a wide range of languages in Afro-Caribbean culture, ranging from Patois in Jamaica to Kweyol in St. Lucia to Papiamento in Curacao. It’s as diverse and interesting a culture as there is in the world.
What Do Caribbean Americans Celebrate?
Considering that June is Caribbean American Heritage Month, there are a wide range of events and occasions Caribbean people can celebrate their ancestors as well as their own contributions to society. One such occasion celebrated by Afro-Caribbean people and Black people across America is Juneteenth.
Caribbean Americans nationwide proudly celebrate it. But what is Juneteenth? And, what should you know about it?
Juneteenth is a day that Black Americans wholly cherish. It’s an annual holiday that commemorates the lives of the enslaved Black people who were freed in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865. This took place two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, with slavery officially outlawed in December 1865 after the 13th Amendment was ratified. Many American immigrants from Black Caribbean countries celebrate freedom on Juneteenth. Though most states recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, only now are steps being taken to make it a paid holiday for all employees.
What Does Juneteenth Symbolize?
Juneteenth’s history is both a reflection on the delayed emancipation of Black people from slavery and a celebration of the extent to which Black people now enjoy freedom. Juneteenth celebrations typically involve religious sermons, family gatherings, music festivals, educational events, in general a time for Black Americans to enjoy their culture and acknowledge their history. Juneteenth 2021 will likely feature more of the same celebrations, though each one from here on has increased meaning considering the continued instances of anti-Black racism that have led to violence, like what happened earlier this year with Daunte Wright.
What Are the Colours of Juneteenth?
The Juneteenth flag, created in 1997, features a blue and red stripe with a white star in the centre. The flag colours represent future opportunities for Black people, with the outline that surrounds the star on the flag representing new beginnings. The colours mirror those of the U.S. flag to highlight how formerly enslaved people and their descendants are now free Americans.
Celebrating the contributions of Afro-Caribbean people and educating others about those contributions is essential in breaking down the barriers between different cultures. Part of that entails unlearning false eurocentric history, and focusing on Black excellence as a norm, not a rarity. The relevance of Juneteenth and other holidays commemorating Black freedom are so necessary and special for the exact same reasons people care to be an ally and try to be inclusive leaders. Building bonds and becoming anti-racist doesn’t happen overnight, so encourage your team to have a Tough Convo today.