Unity is an integral part of the community. In fact, the last five letters of the word community are u-n-i-t-y, which spells unity. This section will unite all the other topics under Community and Politics, explaining how West Indians work together through these challenges.
Words of a West Indian about Overcoming Racism in NYC
The Caribbean community in New York bonds together and makes the most of its resources. In the face of discrimination, lack of influence, and gentrification, they will work together to improve their situation. The community does this through several methods. During my interview in City College, Rajiv Wallace claimed that West Indians educate people about their lives in New York to overcome discrimination. Moreover, they show their distinct characteristics as West Indians, such as participating in West Indian events and getting good educations. Another way they try to stand out is by avoiding following stereotypes about African Americans. By showing their unique characteristics and demonstrating their West Indian identity, they can show that they do not deserve to be treated unequally because of racism.
The added obstacle of living in New York City is the gentrification that is occurring in the popular West Indian community of Flatbush. As the area becomes more attractive to outsiders, West Indians living there are threatened with displacement. Nevertheless, this only encourages West Indians to work hard in achieving a comfortable life. Parents encourage their children to pursue good educations to hopefully get white-collar jobs and look for ways to discontinue racism in the future.
Reaching out to West Indian Political Leaders
Caribbean community is also trying to stop the process of gentrification in Flatbush. However, they do not have enough political influence in New York to prevent gentrification from occurring in their neighborhoods. West Indians look toward their leaders of Caribbean descent, such as City Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Mathieu Eugene, for creating favorable policies that will make their neighborhoods better. In fact, Williams wants to create a community center in Flatbush that will allow West Indians to communicate and interact with one another (“Jumaane D. Williams”). As someone who had to face several hardships himself, he feels connected to the struggling West Indian community. The New York Daily News quoted Williams saying, “Having gone through those times when I needed help and didn’t get it, I empathize a lot with people who are having a hard time” (Hays). He wants to help West Indians endure the problems that arise in the community.
Unifying the community is an important task to overcome these obstacles. Williams plans to do this by encouraging the construction of a community center in Flatbush. Additionally, the center will attract economic activity and tourism to area. However, the neighborhood is already attractive to outsiders and is becoming more expensive, so gentrification will continue to take place.
Submitting to Gentrification, but enjoying its benefits
Nonetheless, West Indians can improve their situation by benefiting off of gentrification because they can attract more customers to their business and events. In fact, they can start making more money in their careers and get enough to afford living in areas undergoing gentrification. Thus, they can live in the same place while their surroundings improve. The presence of West Indians is becoming known because they are now living in such a large and active area. In some cases, they are viewed as an influential group of people. For example, current political leaders and those hoping to be elected come to the Carnival on Eastern Parkway in Flatbush on Labor Day. Furthermore, their transnational ties allow them to attract even more people to come to New York City. Thus, this city will have continued growth of the West Indian population. It will be shaped by West Indians while encouraging them to adapt to the well-developed and growing city.
Continuing to Embrace their Culture
West Indians have strong ties to their cultural identity. They keep it strong by spending time with their communities and working together. A sense of unity among West Indians has helped them through a lot. They support one another by coming to their events and going to their shops (Wallace). Caribbean people socialize with one another and support their community financially. Additionally, they all go celebrate Carnival on Labor Day in Eastern Parkway.
Unity is an important factor in making adjustments to policies and in helping West Indians adapt to the hardships they encounter. The community works together to battle racism, little to no political representation, and a changing urban environment. Living in these conditions is tough, but the Caribbean community can make a sustainable and positive change in New York if everyone is united.