Members of South Florida’s Afro-Caribbean community opened up to NBC 6 about the efforts to tell their unique stories during Black History Month.
Haitian-American entrepreneur and local professor, Yanatha Desourve, says he came to the United States as a child.
“I started to embrace who I am by understanding my history,” Desourve said. “Which is why history is so important.”
Desourve says he hadn’t realized it was possible to be treated differently because of your appearance until he moved to the U.S.
He says he experienced xenophobia as a child growing up in the Northeastern part of the country.
“In other places, Black tends to be a description. But here in the United States, it also can play a role as a qualifier,” Desourve said.
But he says coming to America sparked a love of studying Black history. He says that knowledge revealed his own story.
Celebrating Black History
He points to the Haitian Revolution, and how the uprising in the French colony forced Napoleon to abandon his vision of a French empire in the Americas paved the way for the Louisiana purchase.
“The purchase wouldn’t have happened without the revolution,” he said. “I knew what I was, culturally, I am Haitian, and I’m proud of that, but I’m also Black in America, and I’m proud of that too.”
In Miramar, the Afro-Caribbean experience is the subject of an upcoming festival Afro-Carib Fest.
“I’m particularly Jamaican, from the English-speaking Caribbean. But there are folks from the French side, we have Puerto Ricans from the Spanish side, and Cubans,” said Miramar Commissioner Alexandra Davis. “It’s a melting pot, and we wanted to bring that to bear in the Afro-Carib festival. People need to see the other side of the story.”
NBC 6 spoke to members of Miramar’s Afro-Caribbean community about the shared histories, and experiences, with African Americans.
“We talk about the fact that we were all trafficked from various parts of the continent, and delivered in different places,” said Andrea Johnbaptiste, Island Space Caribbean Museum board member. “Across the region, the Caribbean, the Americas.”
Shared histories, by virtue of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
“That struggle of fighting, we were on the plantation on the islands the same way, we had to fight for freedom. Similar to what took place in America,” said Jamaican-American marketing specialist Eddy Edwards.
Afro-Carib Fest takes place on Feb. 26 at the Miramar Amphitheater, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
“We try to take every opportunity that we can to celebrate our accomplishments, to remind those who are literally the receiving generation, what the struggles that we all went through,” said Jamaican-American artist and businessman Richard Blackford. “What we’ve established as a people coming through over those 400 years.”