Hey guys! Apart from a chain of islands, have you ever wondered just what the Caribbean really is? I’m sure by now this question has got you thinking. But hey, listen! Whatever your thoughts, I’m here to tell you that you’re not wrong. You see, the answer to this is usually based on perspective and context. In recent times, scholars have been making a distinction by dividing the Caribbean into two parts. This distinction is between El Caribe insular (the islands) and El Gran Caribe (the greater Caribbean, or the entire basin). According to Girvan, when some scholars think of “The Caribbean” they think of it as a sociohistorical category, which commonly refers to a cultural zone characterized by the legacy of slavery and plantation system. On the other hand, Anglophones in the region often think and speak of the Caribbean as meaning the English-Speaking islands or the member states of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).
So quick question… have you ever thought about where the word Caribbean came from? How it originated? Well, I never put much thought into it before, so it’s okay if you haven’t either lol but you’ll find out today. So during class I found out that in efforts to demonize those groups of earlier inhabitants who chose to resist the Spanish invaders, the Spanish thought it was oh so clever to come up with the name Los Caribes, which means… “maneaters” and “deserving of no mercy”. In my opinion, despite the efforts of the Spanish invaders, the concept of the Caribbean was reinvented by the very same reason they came up with the name in the first place, “resistance”. This is where the significance of it all comes in, native scholars reinvented this term as expressions of intellectual and political resistance.
Recognizing that this whole concept of the Caribbean is based on perspective and context I’d like to share my thoughts with you. Being a Caribbean girl and living among Caribbean people all my life, I see the Caribbean as more than just an English speaking chain of islands, more than just a plantation system, more than just the legacy of slavery. . When I think about the Caribbean in contrast to where it came from to where it is now, I can’t help but think about a body of resilient, industrious people with culture at the core of it all. I’d like to think of the Caribbean as a desert but with more interesting ingredients like language, food, culture, music and identity. One misconception about the Caribbean is that its people only speak English. However, I’m here to reverse this misconception. Caribbean people are heavily influenced by the languages of French, Spanish and Dutch. So along with English, when these languages become mixed and all intertwined with each other, a new language was created, called Creole, in which many people in the Caribbean speak, even up to this day.
When I think about the Caribbean, I think about HOME.
Well that’s all for now guys! Be sure to look out for my next post on Caribbean Identity. It should be pretty interesting. 🙂