Taylor Dorville, University of New Haven
Growing up in the Bahamas I was never subject to racial tension as severe as in America. I’ve had white friends before coming to America. I’ve also had Indian friends before America. As a matter of fact, we were all neighbors in a culdesac. Yet, it took me 17 years of living on this earth and a trip to West Haven, Connecticut to experience brute, unadulterated racism. As ignorant as it may sound, as an international student studying in America for the first time, I honestly thought we as a species had moved further beyond this. But I was sadly mistaken. The fact remains that some places you go, some people will still judge you not on your actions, or your behavior, or even your vocabulary, but simply on the color of your skin.
More interesting than America’s culture of racism though, is the part of the African diaspora fully immersed in an atmosphere that is completely against them - the plight of the African American. Unlike their Caribbean counterparts, African Americans had to learn to live parallel to their former oppressors on shared land, as opposed to gaining their independence and living amongst their own. In my opinion, this is what made African Americans so susceptible to European ruses, and as a result, moved them further away from their heritage as a people. For example, in the Caribbean, direct African influence can be clearly, and proudly seen throughout all cultures, in music, dancing, folklore, cuisine, and so much more, despite the variety of nations.
However, in America, many of our brothers and sisters have lost touch with their true culture, and instead, occupy themselves with status symbols. Ironically enough though, and similar to other Caribbean cultures, the Bahamian culture often ingrains their young with the notion that assimilating into America and its workforce is one of their highest attainable achievements. For this reason, many of my peers who are also a part of the great Bahamian student diaspora may never return home.
Now, how is any community supposed to ever evolve if the majority of the educated among them simply vanish? Personally, I much rather be home with a cold Kalik and a bowl of stew fish than out chasing the “American dream”. Therefore, while I refuse to allow this volatile climate to deter me from my own personal agenda, I will remain a product of the values instilled in me and stay steadfast in the face of adversity.