Diaspora Blackness in the Caribbean: A Radical Resource
Blackness is often only discussed in an American context, without an understanding of its social, political, economic, and cultural interconnections to the rest of the Afro-Atlantic, Europe, Asia, and the continent of Africa. Far too many Black folks in America remain unconcerned or without knowledge of the African Diaspora worldwide. It is imperative for Blackness to be understood in an international context, as Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael and other Black freedom fighters attempted to do so in the formation of their own radical consciousness and revolutionary politics. The following resources and media are not by any means exhaustive, but an attempt to hold Black millennials in the Western hemisphere accountable for developing a complex, internationalist analysis as Afro-descendants, particularly in respect to the radical history of Black power movements in the Caribbean. Resources will be given on Puerto Rico, Barbados, Martinique, Guyana, Haiti, Suriname, Grenada, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, the Virgin Islands (U.S.), Jamaica, and Trinidad.
“The ‘making’ of the Puerto Rican nation has been a conflicted and complicated process. The so-called harmonious integration of the ‘three races’ (European, African, and Taino) stemmed from the imposition of Eurocentric power over the Tainos and the Africans; the fusion resulted from the rape and coercive sexual appropriation of subordinated indigenous and African women. In light of this, we urge Afro-Puerto Ricans and all Puerto Ricans to reject the myth that we are all the product of an ‘indissoluble fusion of three races’. The mythical view that the Puerto Rican is the fusion of three races, compounded by the perfunctory declaration that all Puerto Ricans are African on one side or the other, has operated to silence, veil and marginalize Afro-Puerto Ricans. The state and the political parties, the church, the academy, and the public education system as well as other institutions, including the family, have all conspired in this operation. Together, they have exerted an ideological and psychological control that has often precluded Afro-Puerto Ricans from speaking as to one to collectively denounce and defy our discrimination and marginalization.”
— Miriam Jimenez Roman, the Afro-Latin@ Reader
Notable Afro-Puerto Rican figures: Basquiat (also Haitian), Rafael Hernandez, Pedro Albizu Campos, Jesus Colon, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, Rosie Perez, Arroyo Pizarro, Marcos Xiorro, Felipe Luciano, Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez, Tego Calderon, Kelis, Ozuna, and Pilar Barbosa.
Books: Remixing Reggaeton: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico. Slave Revolts in Puerto Rico: Conspiracies and Uprisings, 1795–1873. Afro-Puerto Rican Music: Cultural Studies and the Resurgence of Bomba. In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam. Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870–1920.
Notable Afro-Barbadian figures: Audre Lorde, Bussa, Grandmaster Flash, Doug E. Fresh, Grantley Adams, Samuel Jackman Prescod, Rihanna, Frank Leslie Walcott, Granville Williams, and Sara Ann Gill.
Books: Black Rebellion in Barbados: The Struggle Against Slavery, 1627–1938. Pan Africanism in Barbados: An Analysis of the Activities of the Major 20th Pan African formations in Barbados. Empire and Nation Building in the Caribbean, Barbados 1937–66. The Children of Africa In the Colonies: Free People of Color in Barbados In the Age of Emancipation.
“The history of slave emancipation in the French West Indian colony of Martinique suggests the complexity of social forces and political projects involved in the abolition of slavery…To speak schematically, a ‘revolution from above’ converged with a ‘revolution from below’.”
— Dale W. Tomich, Through the Prism of Slavery: Labor, Capital, and World Economy
Notable Afro-Martinican figures: Franz Fanon, Eduard Glissant, Laurent Valere and Aime Cesaire.
Books: French Caribbeans in Africa: Diasporic Connections and Colonial Administration. Sweet Liberty: The Final Days of Slavery in Martinique.
Joints: Discourse on Colonialism.
Notable Afro-Guyanese figures: Akara, Jack Gladstone, Quamina, Walter Rodney, and Forbes Burnham.
Books: Ideology and Change: The Transformation of the Caribbean Left.
Notable Haitian figures: Sanite Belair, Cecil Fatiman, Touissant L’Overture, Jean-Jaques Dessalines, Garcelle Beauvais, Maxwell, Basquiat (also Puerto Rican), Nemours Jean-Baptiste, Coupé Cloué, Master Dji, Webert Scott, Jean Bertrand Aristide, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, Manno Charlemagne, and Emeline Michel.
Books: Damning the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment. Diaspora, Politics, and Globalization. Choosing Their Own Style: Identity Emergence Among Haitian Youth in Quebec.
Notable Afro-Cuban figures: Antonio Maceo y Grajales, Machito, Celia Cruz, Chano Pozo, La Lupe, the Afro-Cuban All Stars, Las Krudas, Arsenio Rodriguez, Ju Ju C., Gina Torres, Dayme Arocena, Mongo Santamaria, and Mario Bauzá.
Books: Guarding Cultural Memory: Afro-Cuban Women In Literature and the Arts. Afro-Cuban Identity in Post-Revolutionary Novel and Film: Inclusion, Loss, and Cultural Resistance. Cuban Women and Salsa: To the Beat of their Own Drum. Suspect Freedoms: The Racial and Sexual Politics of Cubanidad in New York, 1823–1957. The Power of Race in Cuba: Racial Ideology and Black Consciousness During the Revolution.
Notable Afro-Surinamese figures: Boni, Ruth Jacott, Remy Bonjasky, and Clarence Clyde Seedorf.
Books: “What’s Identity Got to Do with It?” Remaking Identity In Light of the Mati Work in Suriname — Female Desires: Same-sex Relations and Transgender Practices Across Cultures. In the Shadows of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World. Post-Colonial Immigrants and Identity Formations in the Netherlands.
“They said that 95 percent of our population is Black — and they had the correct statistic — and if we have 95 percent of predominantly African origin in our country, then we can have a dangerous appeal to 30 million Black people in the United States.”
— Maurice Bishop, Hunter College
Notable Afro-Grenadian figures: Julien Fédon, Craig David, Maurice Bishop, Louise Little, Malcolm X, and Leslie Pierre.
Books: Gunboat Democracy: U.S. Interventions In the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Panama. Decolonizing and Feminizing Freedom: A Caribbean Genealogy. Women in Grenadian History, 1783–1983.
Joints: Malcolm X: Caribbean Connections.
The Dominican Republic
Notable Dominican figures: Mama Tingo, Amara La Negra, Junot Diaz, Victor Rasuk, Zoe Saldana, Anthony Santos, Ozuna, Alfonso Ribeiro, Rubby Perez, Prince Royce, Anais, Juelz Santana, Dania Ramirez, Dascha Polanco, Rosa Acosta, Julia Alvarez, Hector Acosta, Jose Alberto, and Fabolous.
Books: Representing Queer and Transgender Identity: Fluid Bodies in the Hispanic Caribbean and Beyond. The Development of Literary Blackness in the Dominican Republic. Women Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora. What’s Love Got to Do with It?: Transnational Desires and Sex Tourism in the Dominican Republic.
Notable Bahamian figures: Pompey, Ester Rolle, Sidney Poitier, Lenny Kravitz, and Rick Fox.
Books: Bahamian Culture and Factors Which Impact Upon It. Race Relations in the Bahamas, 1784–1834. The African Diaspora to the Bahamas. Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People.
Antigua and Barbuda
Notable Antiguan and Barbudan figures: Jamaica Kincaid, Vere Cornwall “Papa” Bird, Melvin Claxton, Jazzie B, and DJ Red Alert.
Books: Bondmen and Rebels: A Study of Master-Slave Relations in Antigua. Troubling Freedom: Antigua in the Aftermath of British Emancipation.
Joints: Unearthing Antigua’s Slave Past
Notable Dominica figures: Trisha Goddard, Daniel John-Jules, Moira Clare Ruby Stuart, 21 Savage, and Emmanuel Christopher Loblack.
Books: Your Time is Done Now: Slavery, Resistance, and Defeat: the Maroon Trials of Dominica. Sugar and Slavery: An Economic History of the British West Indies.
The U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. Johns, and St. Thomas)
Notable figures: Emile Griffith, Vanessa Daou, Bennie Benjamin, Delyno Brown, Kitty, Polly, and Katurah.
Books: Colonial Costitutionalism: The Tyranny of the United States’ Offshore Terrotorial Policy and Relations. Colonialism: An International Social, Cultural and Political Encyclopedia.
Notable figures: Sam Sharpe, Bob Marley, Queen Nanny, Tacky, Dutty Boukman, DJ Kool Herc, Ziggy Marley, Stephen Marley, Damien Marley, Sister Nancy, Patra, Cindy Campbell, Keyshia Ka’oir, Harry Belafonte, Marcus Garvey, Claude McKay, Grace Jones, The Notorious B.I.G., Lady Saw, Beenie Man, and Michael Manley.
Books: Man Vibes: Masculinities in the Jamaican Dancehall. Wah Eye Nuh See Heart Nuh Leap: Queer Maroonage in the Jamaican Dancehall. Postcolonial, Queer: Theoretical Intersections. Race, Sexuality, and Identity in Britain and Jamaica. Brother’s Keeper: The United States, Race, and Empire in the British Caribbean. Caribbean Labor and Politics: Legacies of Cheddi Jagan and Michael Manley.
Trinidad and Tobago
Notable Afro-Trinidadian figures: Calypso Rose, Claudia Jones, Stokely Carmichael, Foxy Brown, Pearl Primus, George Padmore, Hazel Scott, Tatiana Ali, Heather Headley, Geoffrey Holder, and Haddaway.
Books: Moko Jumbies: The Dancing Spirits of Trinidad. Carnival: A Culture in Action — The Trinidad Experience. Guinea’s Other Suns: The African Dynamic in Trinidadian Culture. Reclaiming African Religions in Trinidad: The Socio-political Legitimation of the Orisha and Spiritual Baptist Faiths.