Caribbean communities unite for Covid recovery


  • The Covid-19 pandemic has decimated American Caribbean communities in the United States.
  • Communities in the largest diasporas have come together to help with health, economic and cultural recovery.
  • Leaders, activists and artists from the American Caribbean diaspora came together to help communities.
  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic almost two years ago, it has revealed stark disparities related to poverty, access to health care and the overall quality of life that once left blacks Americans more than three times more likely to die from the virus.

“We carry a higher burden of chronic disease which predisposes us to the most serious complications of the coronavirus,” Blackstock, a doctor who works in Brooklyn, told the Washington Post Uché. “We do not have access to care and if we do, it is likely that the care will be of the worst quality as it is often referred to as a service to minorities.”

Although part of the largest contingent of black Americans, for many Caribbean American communities in the United States, their unique impact But for many, the unique

A map from the New York City Department of Health showing the early spread of the virus confirmed that neighborhoods with high concentrations of Caribbean Americans in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx were among the worst affected areas. by COVID-19.

Now, as states reopen and communities are tasked with rebuilding themselves, Caribbean diasporas across the country have told Insider that their unity behind their shared cultural identity is key to their socio-political, health and economic recovery.

Many Caribbean American diasporas were in coronavirus hotspots

vaccine health care workers us

A dentist receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Anaheim, California, Jan.8, 2021.

brand Rightmire / Getty Images


According to 2017 data from the Migration Policy Institute, most Caribbean immigrants and first-generation Americans reside in New York State and Florida, representing 63% of the total Caribbean population in the United States.

Data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that blacks have many jobs in the taxi service industry, the restaurant industry as well as the hospitality industry. Many immigrants, including immigrants to the Caribbean, also work in the health care sector – the frontline workers who took care of the nation during the pandemic.

A report from the Migration Policy Institute also shows that more than 2.6 million immigrants were employed as healthcare workers in 2018. They represent 18% of healthcare workers in the United States.

This meant that when the public was asked to stay home to flatten the curve, it was the immigrant communities and black and brown Americans that largely kept the country going.

But advocates note that in polls and surveys, Americans of Caribbean descent are often lumped together with African Americans, which can make the campaign difficult for their unique needs as a community culturally, politically and economically.

In 2020, the US Census Bureau released a new questionnaire that included the ability for people to rate their country of origin, which will help differentiate Caribbean Americans from African Americans.

“Twenty percent of New Yorkers, New Yorkers are of Caribbean descent, so it’s very important that we are seen,” Shelley Worrell, founder and chief curator of caribBeing, told NY1.

The cultural rights group warned the impact came at a cost to the community as the coronavirus spread.

As evictions skyrocketed and unemployment rose, Worrell set out to serve hot meals to frontline workers at two hospitals, including facilities that primarily serve Brooklyn’s Caribbean population.

Many black-owned businesses, already severely affected by disparities in access to federal aid, have been forced to shut down altogether or have struggled to stay afloat. Among these, Worrell focused his efforts on the Caribbean business community.

CaribBeing’s Caribbean Business Directory then served as a one-stop-shop to support local businesses as a public campaign to support black-owned businesses gathered momentum after George Floyd’s murder in June.

“We were able to really try to amplify Caribbean businesses in our neighborhoods to bring traffic and media attention to the community,” Worrell said.

In South Florida, where the Caribbean diaspora is 21%, drawing attention to community resources was as much a public health and cultural necessity as it was an economic necessity.

Black Americans, including Caribbean Americans, know the history of the country’s medical exploitation, which leaves room for misinformation.

With misinformation about the coronavirus and vaccine spreading throughout the community, Miami-based lawyer Marlon Hill has mainly focused on ensuring that people are effectively informed of what is happening throughout the pandemic. , as well as to facilitate the mental health and well-being of the community.

“With the help of the Caribbean medical community, we have hosted a number of webinars to dispel myths about COVID-19 vaccines and the ongoing pandemic,” he told Insider in an email. .

But Hill told Insider that keeping the community culturally connected is as vital as it is medically informed. South Florida’s annual Caribbean Carnival was canceled last October, putting the final nail in the coffin of a festival tourist season that begins with Trinidad and Tobago’s pre-Lent celebration in February.

Last year’s colorful costume masquerade in the Republic of the Twin Islands is one of the few in the region, and its diaspora in the United States and beyond, has never stopped devastating a tourist and entertainment scene since. flourishing culture.

The pandemic has devastated communities dependent on culture and entertainment

immigration to the world major cities New York City how immigrants are treated West Indian Day Parade

The annual American Caribbean Carnival Parade in Brooklyn, New York, draws nearly two million people over Labor Day weekend.

Joe Penney / Reuters


Artists and entrepreneurs have taken to social media to connect people in the best way they know: music. Ronnie Tomlinson, director of public relations at Destine Media PR, a full-service agency that works with artists from the Caribbean, told Insider that she was happy to see how artists have come naturally to support the diaspora.

“Their intention was to ease the minds of the people,” she said. “Just use music to entertain people. We know they’re human, but we [got to] see this side of them. “

Similar to the D-Nice club’s quarantine sessions during the pandemic, DJs including Brooklyn-based Kevin Crown and Jamaica’s Tony Matterhorn performed live music sets designed to virtually recreate the high-energy parties. that can attract thousands of customers.

Over time, its shows have attracted as many as 5,000 viewers per show. Crown told Insider that these music sessions have started to help fans, as well as himself.

“I even lost my uncle to COVID so it was just a lot of anxiety every day and as much as [my music] helped people, it helped me cope and gave me a goal, “he said, receiving messages from fans at the time that his performance was keeping them on the brink.”

Advocates say the tireless work to keep the diaspora united during a time of global suffering will only intensify as states reopen.

In the wake of a pandemic and racial unrest that has targeted communities of color, Hill warned political leaders to alleviate some of the socio-economic and health issues in the community by meeting with the community they are in.

“Be more proactive by sharing these messages in a vernacular language that the community can understand and see as well,” he said. “Be more proactive by speaking in our language and in our culture.”


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