Black Immigrants of the Caribbean: An Invisible and Forgotten Community

By Guy, Talmadge C. | Adult Learning, Fall 2001 | Go to article overview

Black Immigrants of the Caribbean: An Invisible and Forgotten Community


Guy, Talmadge C., Adult Learning


The number of black Caribbean immigrants in America is growing with the most prevalent countries of origin being the Bahamas, Haiti, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago (Schmidley & United States Bureau of the Census, 2001). According to the Bureau of Census (2000), nearly 2.8 million foreign-born immigrants come from the Caribbean region, yet these groups remain largely invisible in America (Waters, 1999).

Until recently, there was very little attention given to understanding the experiences of black Caribbean immigrants. This is because, as immigrants, their status is overshadowed by immigration related to Mexico and other Latin American countries--regions that, along with Asia, represent the Largest flow of immigrants to America since the 1980s (Schmidley & U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2001). Doe to their physical appearance, they are often seen as part of the black American community, despite differences in language, culture, and religion.

Their "invisibility" means that they are not seen as having to face unique issues or having distinct needs. This invisibility, along with the stereotypical images of life in the Caribbean, requires examination for adult education programs serving black Caribbean immigrants. This article explores some of the issues facing Caribbean Americans and bow, from an adult educator's perspective, these issues impact adult learning.

Economic Reality and Patterns of Immigration

The emigration of black Caribbean persons to the United States can be understood as part of a global pattern of labor migration from poorer countries to wealthier ones (Butcher, 1994). This movement is propelled by the expansion of the global capitalist economy under the hegemony of U.S. economic interests. Where the former colonial powers--England, Spain, and France--dominated the histories and economies of the islands of the Caribbean, the United States has emerged as the dominant economic force in the region and prompted many persons to migrate to America in search of economic opportunity (Daneshvary, 1994).

Poverty rates throughout the Caribbean are high: 80% in Haiti, 34% in Jamaica, and 21% in Trinidad and Tobago (U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Directorate of Intelligence, 2001). The economy of the region is fragile, although individual islands such as Puerto Rico and Bahamas have comparatively strong economies. Because of the media images of idyllic Caribbean islands, most Americans are unaware of the economic and social problems facing Caribbean residents.

Acculturation Issues

Black Caribbean immigrants do not arrive in the United States as empty cultural containers waiting to be Americanized. They come with perceptions, images, and values on issues of race, class, and gender relations that are shaped by the home country Similarly, they display multiple forms of identity related to the diverse racial, ethnic, and urban contexts in which they settle and work.

For the majority, of Caribbean immigrants, incorporation into American society is a two-fold process. First, most immigrant workers are integrated into the service sector of the economy, which means they have a relatively weak position in the labor market. Second, because race is fundamental in the American social hierarchy, access to resources, rewards, and power as a black immigrant is significantly limited (Hacker, 1992). Consequently, for many black Caribbean immigrants, there is a clear understanding that categories of race and ethnicity as defined in American society are different than in many Caribbean societies. These definitions are used to mark boundaries of social location and therefore place black Caribbean immigrants in a kind of double jeopardy as they seek employment and education opportunities as immigrants.

It must be understood that the nations of the Caribbean are also characterized by linguistic diversity in addition to separate histories of colonization and liberation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Black Immigrants of the Caribbean: An Invisible and Forgotten Community
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.