Caribbean History & Culture Part 2

Now, I am learning even more information about the Caribbean. Caribbean history, culture, and
music are excellent displays of human expression. The Caribbean is an archipelago or a cluster of
islands. The Greater Antilles Islands include Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, etc.
The Lesser Antilles includes nations or areas like St. Kits & Nevis, St. Lucia, etc. The history of the
Caribbean began obviously with the Native American people. Far too often, some forget the value
of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, but I will always comprehend the intrinsic value of
Native Americans.
The Native Americans of the Caribbean migrated heavily into the Caribbean region. Many of the
indigenous human beings in the Americas worshiped polytheistic religions. They established great
music and other great civilizations. They were diverse. Many have talked about the Tainos, the
Caribs, and other indigenous human beings. European imperialists from Columbus to others have
invaded lands, abused Native Americans, and even exterminated tons of Native Americans in the
Caribbean. The Western imperialists (from nations like England, Spain, France, the Netherlands,
Portugal, etc.) wanted territories and resources to advance their respective Empires. Native
Americans were heavily used as slaves for the purpose of labor exploitation. Later, Africans were
used as slaves since the Native American populations in the Caribbean was so depleted by the
eighteenth century. The good news is that the peoples of the Caribbean (which included Africans,

Native Americans, and Creoles. Creoles in Caribbean terminology refers to those people of color
who were born in the Caribbean centuries ago) stood up to the brutal oppression of slavery,
imperialism, and colonialism as a means for these human beings to fight for freedom. Many of the
revolts and revolutions in the Caribbean were successful in establishing nations like Haiti, Jamaica,
Cuba, Trinidad, etc. That is great news. We also conversely realize about the complications in the
Caribbeans. These issues deal with poverty, income inequality, Western corporate exploitation,
debt issues, human rights issues, etc. There have been stories about the many problems in the
Caribbean. Yet, the Caribbean people are very resilient and many Caribbeans have made great
strides in their lives. Not to mention that we can see a lot of Caribbean human beings today
establishing great contributions in the improvement of the overall society as well.

So, I have hope for the future. The Caribbean region has a beautiful landscape with tons of down to
Earth, progressive human beings. I know many acquaintances of Caribbean heritage. I have
Caribbean heritage on the mother’s side of my family. Caribbean heritage is very diverse culturally
and ethnically. There are those of Black African descent, Native American descent, Indian descent
(as in from the Indian subcontinent), European heritage, and those of other backgrounds. The
strength of the human family is truly beautiful and inspiring. Also, it is important to respect the
Afro-Caribbeans who made a great contribution not only in the history of the Americas, but in the

history of world history too. I am a black African American, but I have a great appreciation and
respect for Caribbean human beings.

It is kind of ironic that some have mentioned information about the Dominican Republic, because I
did my own research on Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Henry Louis Gates' Black in Latin America
documentary blatantly proves that racism is a serious problem in the Dominican Republic (with
even some stores selling caricature dolls of black people in offensive ways). Henry Louis Gates came
into the Dominican Republic and Dominican professors in the country admitted that many
Dominicans consider themselves whiter Spaniards rather than black human beings. The DR has a
statue of the imperialist Bartholomew Columbus (or the brother of that criminal Cristobal Colon aka
Christopher Columbus). Many Dominicans deny outright their black heritage. Also, the dictator
Rafael Trujillo killed black Haitians via the Parsley Massacre of 1937. Anybody of black African
heritage or who had dark skinned complexion was killed outright by Dominican government forces
in that massacre. Rafael was a sick man (and he promoted racist anti-black Haitian propaganda in
DR textbooks and in their media for years) and ironically he had some black blood, but he was a
stone cold, overt racist. Henry Louis Gates also documents the courageous actions of the Haitian
Revolution. Now, not all Dominicans are racists (as many Afro-Dominicans and black Haitians have
protested DR's recent xenophobic court ruling), but many of them are. I won't place all Hispanics
into one box, but we have every right to condemn racism and oppression. I do not agree totally with
others on the issue of immigration (like I reject the views of the reactionaries on the issue of
immigration as I believe in immigrant rights), but it is true that racism is a serious issue in the
Dominican Republic like in the States. I am in solidarity with any person of black African descent
globally that wants liberty, justice, and freedom. Also, we have to acknowledge heroes who fought
for our liberty too. Afro-Brazilian Sister Benedita Silva has fought for black liberation for years and
decades. There are Afro-Latino anti-racism organizations that legitimately want liberation. Henry
Louis Gates even interviewed an Afro-Cuban Brother who raps and fights against the racism found
in Cuba (Cuba has done some good in the world like sending resources to help West African human
beings fight ebola. Obviously, there is more racism in America than in Cuba). Truly, racism is a
disgrace. There are tons of Caribbean people in every country & every area of the Caribbean who
seek peace, tranquility, justice, and equality. In Israel, Ethiopic, Sephardic, and other Jewish
peoples have been mistreated. That is documented. At the end of the day, the dignity of all human
life has to be respected. All people born in the Earth have equal value irrespective of their creed,
their race, their gender, or their nationality.

Caribbean Music
A long history can describe Caribbean music. It has been greatly globalized today. There has been
reggae, Kreyol rap, soca, and Afro-Latino dance forms like sarabando and characona for years.
African, Native American, Asian, and European influence make up of Caribbean music. There are
millions of people of Caribbean living globally too. We know that the Taino Arawaks and the Caribs
centuries ago sang songs. They used drums too. Africa has a long, strong influence in Caribbean
music. African music is heavily diverse and polyrhythmic in its composition. African music
historically dealt with collective participation. That means that the musicians would invite people to
join in on the song and dance events. The music can be formed in classless groups where everyone
was involved in celebrating music. There is a call and response in African music. The European
influence in Caribbean music has dealt with flutes, hymns, military marching, etc. beyond just
classical music. The creolization of music is when there is a combination or merging of African,
Native American, and European elements in music as a means to form a new culture of music
unique in the Caribbean. There are Indian influences (as in from the nation of India) in the music of
Trinidad, etc. as well. Caribbean music today is internationally known, respected, accepted, and
loved greatly.
Today, we see Caribbean music not only fun to listen to, but it is highly eclectic. Haitians use drums
and other forms of music, which have African influences, as a means to have fun, do rituals, and to
celebrate their lives. The Rada drum is famous in Haiti as a form of celebration. The Carnival is
common too in Haiti and throughout the Caribbean region.
Jamaica is the home of tons of vibrant music. Enough said. Jamaican culture beyond just its music
has an international impact. Many of the poor urban and poor rural Jamaican developed their own
music too beyond the expectations of more of the bourgeoisie members of Jamaican society.
Reggae evolved from many musical traditions in Jamaica like ska and rocksteady. Reggae pioneers
are Prince Buster, Desmond Deeker, Ken Boother, and the Wailers (which was a band started by
legends like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer). Millie Small is another Sister who is an
innovator of blue beat, ska, and reggae. Also, Jamaican dance hall is extremely popular and artists
are very well known internationally who are involved in reggae and dance hall.
In the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, salsa is very common. Hispanic people express salsa as a way
to have fun, love traditions, and to outline pride in their ethnic heritage. The 1960’s saw the growth

of salsa into the next level. The Civil Rights Movement of African Americans inspired the growth of
other movements too. That is Nuyoricans (or Puerto Ricans who live in NYC) used salsa in the States
as way to call for Puerto Rican independence as well. The older generation of Cubans and Puerto
Ricans want to maintain the salsa tradition permanently. The younger generation seeks to do salsa
including Latin rap plus raggaeton. Afro Puerto-Rican Tego Calderon is a famous raggaeton artist. To
this very day, New York City is one major urban hub of salsa dancing. The music of merengue is that
national music tradition of the Dominican Republic. It has been influenced by African and some
European influences. It is still strongly played worldwide including in Queens, NYC, etc. More AfroDominican musicians have been recognized in the 21st century.
The music of Trinidad is very dynamic as well. Today, there are more East Indians living in Trinidad
than black Afro-Trinidadian peoples. Centuries ago, the British immorally colonized Trinidad. The
British elite imposed discriminatory policies in Trinidad against black people, Chinese people,
Indians, etc. centuries ago. Banjo dancing in Trinidad was influenced by African traditions. Calypso
music and Carnival celebrations have been modernized in Trinidad by the 1700’s. Calypso
dominated the music of Trinidad. Many of the calypso songs talked about sex and others talked
about imperialism, discrimination, fun, etc. Calypso includes specialized drums where certain
sections denote various notes. During Carnival celebrations in Trinidad, different musical groups
compete against each other for prizes, etc. East Indians have done their hymns and other forms of
music in Trinidad as well.

Vacation Issues
This is an important subject. I did a lot of research on this issue as well. There are many stories
about vacation in the Caribbean. Going to the Caribbean to have fun, talk to people there, and to
help people are great actions to pursue. Jamaica Kincaid wrote an interesting, introspective look at
tourists and the Caribbean. Her book is entitled, “A Small Place.” It was written decades ago, but it
has relevance today. The book was repulsed at Western arrogance as it relates to the Caribbean.
She feels many tourists express a paternalistic attitude in dealing with the Caribbean. In other
words, some tourists want the Caribbeans to placate their biases instead of the tourists learning

from the Caribbeans about their rich heritage and culture. Some tourists have ignorance about
Caribbean history and culture. That is why it is great for anyone to learn about another country or
area before they take a vacation to that location.
There are many truths about the Caribbean and tourism. Modern day tourism in the Caribbean
came about in the 1800’s as described by the Englishman Thomas Cook. There are jobs and other
forms of infrastructure formed as a product of tourism. Yet, there are risks. Some downsides of
Caribbean tourism is how there is the risk of overbuilding in areas, some people in the Caribbean
are economically exploited, some of the environment has been harmed, and foreign domination
over the Caribbean (which some even classify as neo-colonialism). Some tourists are sincere and
cordial. Other aren’t and just want to exploit people. Some visitors have unfairly stereotype the
peoples of the Caribbean, which is highly evil and wrong. Some workers in the tourism industry deal
with disrespectful people and even racists. This has been exposed by Jamaica Kincaid’s book
entitled, “A Small Place.” Her book has relevance to this very day during the 21st century. She wrote
about what has been occurring in the Caribbean island of Antigua. The workers in the Caribbean
who deal with tourism have families, some of them downplay the issue of race, and many do stand
up for their human dignity too. The workers are told to be cordial with visitors and to act in a
professional fashion. Tourism is serious business in the nations of Barbados, Jamaica, Puerto Rico,
Costa Rica, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and other places of the Caribbean region. Therefore,
the Caribbean people ought to be treated with dignity and with respect. Policies involving tourism
must be fair and progressive for the Caribbean peoples. There should be economic development
based on the improvement of the masses of the people not just for the select few. Any form of evil,
unfair discrimination is repugnant and it ought to be condemned and opposed. Visitors should
come into the Caribbean should always treat Caribbean people with dignity and respect. Also, they
should take the time to talk to them, to understand their lives, and to express compassion including
empathy Humanity deserve dignity, justice, and freedom unequivocally.

Summary of the Nations of the Caribbean
Caribbean nationhood and Caribbean history indeed has been made up of a combination of
revolutionary actions and many other social changes. For centuries, European imperialists
dominated the region. Later, Caribbean people stood up for their legitimate social and political
freedom via rebellions, protests, and other real sacrifices. The imperialists were not just British,
French, Spanish, or Portuguese people. They also were from the Netherlands and even from
Scandinavia for a time. Spain, France, and the UK dominated the Caribbean in their imperialist
actions. The Thirty Years’ War, the Anglo-Dutch Wars, and other European wars dealt with factions
competing for the resources in Caribbean as well. The heroic slave rebellions were made up of
people who wanted to end slavery, colonialism, and other scourges. Escaped slaves called the
Maroons fought for freedom in the Greater Antilles and some islands of the Lesser Antilles. Some
survived in Saint Vincent and Dominica. Others live of course in Jamaica, Hispaniola, Guadeloupe,
and Cuba. Jamaica and Cuba had strong slave uprisings. They or the slave liberation movements
increased from the 1500’s to the 19th century.

The revolutionaries of the Caribbean wanted freedom. The black slaves wanting freedom were the
revolutionaries that influenced revolutionary movements worldwide. The slave revolts for liberation
existed long before the American Revolution and the French Revolution existed. People deserved
human rights, equality, and justice. Human beings wanted to resist slave owning tyrants. That is
that our Brothers and our Sisters centuries ago used escape, self-defense, sabotage, civil
disobedience, and other methods to combat imperialism, slavery, and colonialism. The Maroons
were heroic people who wanted freedom. Haiti experienced a very successful slave rebellion.

Toussaint Louverture was one leader who fought for liberation in Haiti. He fought the French, the
Spanish, and the British for the liberation of Haiti. He was caught by the French and died in prison.
Later, Dessalines and Henri Christophe united forces as a means to defeat the French. Haiti was a
black Republic by 1804.

Haiti was the first Caribbean nation to get independence from European imperialists in 1804.
To this day, we should always respect Haiti for its courage against injustice. Haiti is the world’s first
and oldest black republic in the Western Hemisphere. The Dominican Republic declared its
independence by 1844. The spirit of independence spread. Cuba and Puerto Rico fought for
independence throughout the 19th century. The Spanish American War came in 1898. America
defeated Spain. Cuba attained its independence in 1902 and Puerto Rico became an unincorporated
territory of America.
Abolition movements in the Americas including the Caribbean grew as well. After the Caribbean
increasingly ended slavery, there was still economic oppression by Western forces including puppet
regimes. Even today, economic inequality is a serious problem worldwide not just in the Caribbean.
So, we are still fighting many of the same battles of yesteryear. During this time in the 21st century,
we will not give up. Our ancestors fought and died, so their posterity could live in a better world,
dream more dreams, and exist in an era where freedoms would be more abundant than when they
lived. We live today. It is our hopes, our destinies, and our aspirations which are all linked with the
goals of the human race in general. No one can stop the truth and justice is a legitimate aim to fight
for.
During the 20th century, the United States had a more active role in the Caribbean. The U.S.
government was wrong to occupy Haiti and the Dominican Republic during the 20th century. The
U.S. invaded and occupied the Dominican Republic and Haiti for 19 years from 1915 to 1934. Even
President Lyndon Baines Johnson allowed the U.S. military to invade the Dominican Republic in
1965 as a means to suppress a local, progressive uprising against military rule. He used
“Communism” as an excuse to use this militarist action. To this day, the U.S. maintains a naval
military base in Cuba at Guantanamo Bay. This base deals with the Latin American and Caribbean
region.
Many Caribbean areas achieved independence as well in their own right. Jamaica became
independent by 1962, Trinidad & Tobago in 1962, Barbados in 1966, Bahamas in 1973, Grenada in
1974, Dominica in 1978, St. Lucia in 1979, St. Vincent in 1979, Antigua & Barbuda in 1981, and in St.
Kitts & Nevis by 1983. Belize got its freedom in 1981. Guyana became free in 1966. Suriname
established its independence in 1975. Now, we know many places in the Caribbean exist under
European or American control. In the early 21st century today, many territories controlled by the
British include the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Bermuda, etc. Guadeloupe and Martinique are
French overseas regions or a legal status that they had since 1946. This is an unique
ARRANGEMENT. The deal is that the citizens in both islands are considered full French citizens. They
have the same legal rights, but they are not independent nations.

Conclusion
Today, as a human being, I have an even greater appreciation for the Caribbean. Its history is part of
human history. Its culture is very diverse, excellent, and greatly interesting. Its people are
composed of many colors and creed, but they share one humanity and one region in the globe.
Therefore, the Caribbean reminds us about the vitally important quality of human justice and the
need for us to improve ourselves (and the world around us). Caribbeans have stood up against a
myriad of injustices and other forms of oppression. You can’t know anything fully about the
Caribbean without understanding Caribbean cuisine, music, and dance. Music and dance (as found
in their numerous Carnival festivals spread all over the region) are the spices of life. They can
improve our souls and develop our minds intellectually as studies have shown. From reggae, soca,
and to merengue music, the Caribbean people certainly know how to have fun and enjoy massive
joy. Scholars, political leaders, musicians, judges, lawyers, scientists, and other contributors to
society exist in the Caribbean. It is also important to describe this vital point. We are a community
irrespective of our nationality or background. With all of the recent events in the world, we have to
always remember that we are all our brother’s and our sister’s keepers. What affects one directly,
affects all of us indirectly. We should always show compassion, altruism, and humanity to human
beings. That is a great part of our lives. There is nothing wrong with embracing love, having faith,
and doing positive actions in the world.
By Timothy