The Role of ‘Race’ in Caribbean Sense of Identity Essay Sample


The geographical entity called the Caribbean is approximately made up of islands within the Caribbean Sea and the coastal lands of Central and South America. The being of this portion of the universe was brought to the attending of Europe. with the landing of ships of Christopher Columbus and his crew on parts of Cuba and Hispaniola tardily in 1492 AD. The Caribbean is made up of many islands that prevarication within the tropical and semitropical climatic zones of Central America. The alone geographical location of these alien islands as a intersection of the Americas. the outstations of Europe and the finish of inexpensive labour from Africa and Asia. has made them open to all influences.

The history of migration into the Caribbean Islands threw together diverse races and civilizations of peoples from all the continents of the universe. The net consequence is the creative activity of such a alone racial mix that is difficult to happen anywhere else in the universe ; and which has resulted in an individuality job for the Caribbean people. In the words of Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie. Campus Principal of the University of West Indies. St. Augustine: “Caribbean people have an individuality job.

The inquiry of individuality remains unsolved. We have a history. we are located in a topographic point. and we have built relationships. a civilization is germinating but we do hold individuality jobs. ” Part of these jobs is the function which racial consciousness dramas in the sense of individuality of Caribbeans. The Caribbean sense of individuality through racial consciousness is partially located in their history-how they came to be where they are today.

Historical Background

The assorted racial groups which today populate the Caribbean Islands are derived from: Autochthonal people-Tainos. Africans. Europeans and Asiatic Indians. There are three identifiable migratory paths into the islands of the Caribbean. From Europe came the adventurers led by Christopher Columbus. who rapidly transmuted into conquistadores and settlers ; and began the development of mineral and agricultural resources of the new lands. utilizing the autochthonal peoples they met on the islands as slave labour. Then in came the Africans. who were forcefully brought in as slaves from their fatherlands in West Africa ; to replace the Tainos. who by mid 16th century AD had been practically wiped out by the predatory and rampaging Europeans. Much later came in the Asiatic Indians who arrived as apprenticed labourers.

Since the white European work forces arrived without their adult females. they were forced by fortunes to mate foremost with the autochthonal Tainos. and subsequently with their female African slaves. This mix created a alone racial group called the ‘Mulatto’ . The male mulatto progeny of the white European work forces became their inheritors. They inherited all the belongings of their white male parents. including their black slaves.

This was the beginning of the split between black Africans and their mulatto half brothers. The societal apparatus in most of the Caribbean settlements had the white settlers at the top of the societal ladder. the black Africans at the underside and the mulattos someplace in between. After emancipation of slaves. and the going of white settlers. the mulatto population stepped up the societal ladder as elites in their assorted communities. as is good illustrated by the instance of Haiti after the war of independency forced the Gallic out in 1804.

Situation of Sense of Identity Today

Since they considered themselves racially superior to the black African ex-slaves the mulatto populations of most Caribbean islands have maintained a separate individuality from the inkinesss. Class and privilege was determined by the elation of the tegument. The state of affairs has to a big extent remained so. Those inkinesss wishing to travel up the societal ladder. for illustration in state like Haiti. resorted to decoloring their black tegument. to achieve what they consider to be the superior tegument tone euphemistically termed ‘high yellow’ . Thus the sense of individuality of the assorted Caribbean groups has become to a big extent determined by their racial categorization as white. mulatto. Indian and black.


Identity. Merit. Equity.hypertext transfer protocol: //sta. uwi. edu/uwiToday/2006/June/cbnidnt. asp( accessed Jun 4. 2007 )

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