Outlish Magazine asks on Twitter:
US-based peeps. Does National Caribbean-American Heritage Month have any meaning for you? How do you feel about it? http://ht.ly/1SV5M
When I heard of it, my first thought was hey, now I could decorate my sons' school things--clothing, books, and so forth--with Guyanese flags for a whole month and not receive a call from school officials concerned about anti-American behavior. But I know my sons would call me ridiculous and refuse to go along with any Guyanese flag pride demonstration that would make them stand out in school. Who really wants to stand out as some token member of an underrepresented minority? And besides, they'll tell me, we're Americans! Born and bred!
So I suppose this recognition of Caribbean-Americans would mostly mean something to folks like me, immigrants from the Caribbean. On one hand I can see the wonderful prospects of it. Its predecessors--Black History Month, and Hispanic Heritage Month--have succeeded in highlighting the history and culture of Blacks and Hispanics in America, by at least getting some schools to include Black and Hispanic-focused activities and more in their curriculum during those months. So one definite plus to look forward to is the chance to educate kids and adults about the Caribbean beyond the extremes that most of them see: that the Caribbean and its people are not simply "either or". . . not either beaches, sun, and drunken fun, or crime, poverty, and lawlessness...
On the other hand of my reaction to Caribbean-American Heritage Month, having just experienced the disappointment of filling out a census form with no place for me to indicate my Caribbean identity, I wonder how long it will take for full identification status to be available for us, which of course would mean true recognition of our numbers and needs.
Nothing before it's time, right? Look how long it took for Black folk to be recognized!!
I guess (though it's only in its early stages) I see this month-long dedication to Caribbean-American people as an all too recognizable bit of tokenism -- we've been highlighted with a token form of appreciation, and I respond with conflicting feelings. Pride is among them; as is frustration, and hope that eventually I'll get my American sons to feel proud about being sent to school draped in Guyanese flags.