Venneisha Myers is a second year student at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Belgrade.
If there was a true definition of diversity, the Caribbean would be the quintessential example. The Caribbean is comprised of a versatile people who cannot be specifically defined or associated with just one thing. The rich history and diverse culture of the Caribbean has made it much more than a tourist destination. There are still many people around the world who know so little about the Caribbean, some who do not know where the Caribbean is and others with less knowledge of the islands that comprise the Caribbean. As a foreigner I am asked frequently, “Where are you from? When I respond that I am from the Caribbean, I sometimes get quizzical looks, when I say I’m from Jamaica I receive the usual “Oh Bob Marley”, “weed” and “beaches”. To this, sometimes I would like to respond, “Is this all the Caribbean is known for?”
The Caribbean is a region richly infused with the cultures of many peoples which collectively shape its dynamic identity. It is more than just one musician. Most people associate the Caribbean with Bob Marley while the hundreds of other talented artists go unnoticed. Reggae isn’t the only type of music that springs from the Caribbean. From Soca and Calypso in Trinidad to Dancehall and Dub in Jamaica, the Caribbean has contributed outstandingly to the world of music. Yet still many people around the world are not aware of this. Or is it that they lack the open-mindedness to explore something different?
From its diverse culture to its rich history, the Caribbean has so much to offer. Marcus Garvey once noted that “a person without a history is like a tree without a root.” The strong history of the Caribbean makes us who we are. The laid back atmosphere, our drive to succeed, comes from a somewhat difficult history.
Economically, the Caribbean is a great avenue for investment because of its key location and the natural resources which are available. Socially, the Caribbean played a major role in the abolition of slavery, the adult suffrage movement and not to mention the black intellectual movement in the 1900s. Blacks around the world should pay tribute to the strong and hard working Maroons from the hills of Jamaica and Suriname.
Even today we can see that Caribbean people have done well for themselves intellectually. The Caribbean has had at least one Rhodes Scholar every year since 1904. Not to mention there are now Caribbean born individuals functioning in the White House and heading many organizations in the corporate world. For example the current head of the World Federation of Consulates is from Jamaica, Caribbean Scientist Dr Henry Lowe also recently made a massive breakthrough in the fight against prostate cancer.
The Caribbean also offers to the world a strong sporting presence. From world famous cricketers, Brian Lara and Garfield Sobers to sprinters Usain Bolt and Shelly-ann Fraser, the Caribbean has contributed greatly to the world of sport. Not only has the competitiveness been maximized but the vibe and the exotic feeling that ‘Caribbeans’ bring when supporting our sporting competitors is simple amazing. I think everyone who has ever experienced a World Cup or World Championship where ‘Caribbeans’ are participating can agree that the support is simple unbelievable.
From one Caribbean island to another, the diversity and yet also the similarities are amazing. The Caribbean region shouldn’t be associated with one or two things; we have offered a lot and are still offering a great deal to the world. The Caribbean is not just a tourist destination.
Author: Venneisha Myers