- Posted July 7, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your immigration stories
Caribbean in our hearts, America our Home away from Home. Welcome to the United States
America the Beautiful - Caribbean in our hearts, America our Home away from Home. Welcome to the United States
In the early sixties, while the American landscape was fraught with the unrest of the Civil Rights Movement, witnessing to the assassinations of J Medger Evers, MalcolmX, Martin Luther King, President John F Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy, the sit down by Rosa Parks, there was public outcry for equality and justice for all. In the background, there was a group of Caribbean women who came to America disguised as maids.
Under an exchange program for US Visas and guarantees of legal entry to a United States for their spouses, children and immediate extended family, these women left their families, career jobs and their native lands to be the Servant Maid, for their sponsoring US families.
Many Caribbean immigrants, who are now US naturalized citizens, whose children wear titles of professorial academia, legal brains, military leaders, political heads, and have been acclimated into every thread of being American by birth, owe a tremendous debt of honor and gratitude to our women of courage and inimitable strength and grace.
On July 4th 2014, a gathering of family celebrated Independence Day on our US home soil. The meaning of the celebration was captured through the vivacious voices of the youngest generation of citizens.
While in the backdrop, just like it was in the early 70s, was my sister, Margaret Rose and her husband Raymond Gonzales. With their offspring Colin, a son, who holds on to his Trinidad and Tobago heritage with both the sharp and brutal edge of sword and separation; and their daughter Rayanne, a promising artist singer, and their grand daughter, Paloma, our family and friends united in the ritual of Independence day celebration
Margaret Rose left Trinidad in the late sixties. Her husband Raymond and their three year old son, Colin were left behind.
As the nanny for the American family, Maggie, cleaned, washed, cooked, and cared for the dogs of the American family. By her being their maid, Maggie secured a place for the dream to be an American for each member of our family.
For her cold winters away from home and all alone in a strange country, she weathered the misery of the disenfranchised. When she was joined by her husband and son, they forged a future out of the perils of displacement.
In Virginia, one of the first encounters of life as a US resident was the cultural traumatization imposed on a Caribbean born 5 yr old male with a light skinned complexion. The definition of race became a caustic human drama for a migrant family. To this day, the psychological wounds inflicted by taunts of bullies and marked acts of racism; a young man's life is emotionally and mentally scarred with shattered memories.
So on July 4th 2014, we listen to the background music of our Caribbean Queen of Calypso, Calypso Rose, playing "Give me More Tempo." A selection of music reminiscent of the times remembered for Colin to celebrate his Trini beginnings, his early childhood.
Paloma, the young US citizen, daughter of Rayanne, embodies the joy of festive celebration and pride. With her Salvadorean, Papi Antonio, Paloma feasts in the company of cousins. She indulges our palette with the tastes of Trinidad Callaloo. In her garden of corn, beans and ochroes, she tells the recipe of making our Trinidad and Tobago callaloo with ochroes. "It is delice" says Paloma.
This home in Virginia is where our families have stopped over in our landing to become Americans. We have been housed and fed. At 82 years, the family patriarch, Raymond attends to the grill, and tempers the food dishes with his entertaining humor.
Mags, has been plagued with the torments of aging. Her knees are not as strong. But still she wobbles with erect gait and lusty energy. Taking care of all the family fixings, ensuring that the call to Cols is made to ensure he is in a good place, and giving the gentle reminders to get ready to come by for the July 4th celebration are her living bible demonstrations.
As the blessing was said, we were reminded to be America the Beautiful. Colin recalled the Nationals, and the Naturalized. We remembered the many that are at risk at US borders hoping for successful entry.
Then in spontaneous chorus, Rayanne, her cousin Tonya, cousin Collice and little Paloma, looked toward the red, white and blue flags blowing at the front yard, and sang:
Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?