JAMAICA | Opposition Leader Mark Golding bats for Greater Recognition of Caribbean Diaspora

JAMAICA |  Opposition Leader Mark Golding bats for Greater Recognition of Caribbean Diaspora

NEW YORK,  NY, July 23, 2022 - Jamaica’s Opposition Leader Mark Golding says “much more needs to be done to leverage the vast potential that resides in the experience, qualifications and other capacities of Caribbean Diaspora members in contributing to national development in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries.”

Delivering a lecture on the Caribbean Diaspora’s influence on the United States, at the Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York on July 21, Mr. Golding pointed out that there is much more to what Diaspora members contribute to the Caribbean than the money they send home.

“The input of the Caribbean Diaspora far exceeds foreign exchange,” he said. “The Caribbean, and my country Jamaica, need your skills and your talents to help us tackle our fundamental developmental challenges,” Golding insisted.

“Despite the uphill climb as immigrants to America, Caribbean people have tremendously influenced, and indeed altered in positive ways, the diversity, complexity and characteristics of the American body politic. 

Opposition Leader Mark Golding greets Jamaican-American Congresswoman Yvette Diane Clarke from Brooklyn New York.  She co-chairs the Congressional Caribbean Caucus and works to foster relationships between the United States and the Caribbean Community. Clarke is a Senior Member of both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Committee on Homeland Security, where she serves as Chair of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation Subcommittee. Clarke has been a member of the Congressional Black Caucus since coming to Congress in 2007 and today chairs its Immigration Task Force.Opposition Leader Mark Golding greets Jamaican-American Congresswoman Yvette Diane Clarke from Brooklyn New York. She co-chairs the Congressional Caribbean Caucus and works to foster relationships between the United States and the Caribbean Community. Clarke is a Senior Member of both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Committee on Homeland Security, where she serves as Chair of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation Subcommittee. Clarke has been a member of the Congressional Black Caucus since coming to Congress in 2007 and today chairs its Immigration Task Force.“The history of the United States is deeply entwined with, and cannot be extricated from the history of the people of the Caribbean, whose deep and abiding impact on the social, political, cultural life of the United States cannot be underestimated,” Golding informed.

Most of these immigrants from Jamaica and other Caribbean nations did not come to America only to benefit themselves. They were determined to integrate into the communities where they settled, like here in New York, and they were determined to make significant contributions to their newly adopted home.

“The impact of the Caribbean on the United States of America is not limited to [cultural] festivals and food,” Golding said. “Too often, these are the predominant and limited images of who we are, and where and how we have contributed, without adequate expression of the seriousness, scope, and capacity of Caribbean peoples’ social, political, cultural and historical engagement in this country,” Golding asserted.

He reminded his audience that “the majority of enslaved persons in the northern states were transported from the Caribbean to the Carolinas and  outnumbered those brought directly from Africa. Up to 20 percent of enslaved persons in South Carolina were from the Caribbean,” Mr. Golding informed.

He pointed out that “along with South Carolina, Virginia and New York, a large Caribbean community expanded in Boston. By 1860, just before the Civil War commenced, it is estimated that one of five Bostonians were born in the Caribbean.”

“So, when we talk about the important role of Boston in the anti-slavery movement, we must account for the presence of black people from the Caribbean, who played an important role in the struggle alongside US-born activists,” Golding pointed out.

PNP President Mark Golding flanked by Congressional Representatives Yvette Clarke and Gregory Meeks who represents New York's fifth Congressional District and is Chair of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee along with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and members of the delegation.PNP President Mark Golding flanked by Congressional Representatives Yvette Clarke and Gregory Meeks who represents New York's fifth Congressional District and is Chair of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee along with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and members of the delegation.The Jamaican Opposition Leader chronicled the movement of Caribbean migrants to the United States from  the early 20th century to the present, pointing out that “these immigrants placed significant emphasis on education; and, most importantly, they ensured their offspring, born and raised in the US, were imbued with strong values, positive self-belief, the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, and a sense of civic responsibility and community engagement.”

He observed that like immigrants from other countries across the world,  “the Ellis Island Museum displays the names of countless Caribbean nationals who sailed into New York Harbor and saw Lady Liberty welcoming them to America. Of course, the America they would encounter on arrival was not always the one they had imagined.”

“For Caribbean peoples, whether in the 18th century or the 21st century, whether first-generation, second or beyond – no matter where we go, our navel string cut in the Caribbean, and more specifically in our countries either of birth, origin, or cultural claiming.

“And that is why you find that wherever we go, we carry, literally, our symbolic umbilical cords with us, and it is these cords that transcend time and space. It is those cords of deep connection that allow us to come together, in community, as a Caribbean Diaspora,” Golding maintained.

“Like their predecessors that cemented a strong Caribbean Diaspora in the early to mid-20th century, the migrants who came to the US in the later years of the century were ambitious, determined to make a success of their life, and driven by positive ambition. 

Opposition Leader Mark Golding meets a leading member of the Jamaican Diaspora from Atlanta, entrepreneur Mr. Michael Thelwell - Co-Chair of the organizing committee for the Diaspora tour.Opposition Leader Mark Golding meets a leading member of the Jamaican Diaspora from Atlanta, entrepreneur Mr. Michael Thelwell - Co-Chair of the organizing committee for the Diaspora tour.“They did not shy away from instilling their culture on the American society, creating a new Caribbean-American culture that is so richly exemplified in music, dance-forms, theater, cuisine and overall achievement,” Golding emphasized.

He said it “was not surprising that the Caribbean community is now a sought-after political voting bloc. This was particularly evident in the 2020 US General Election, with a first-generation American Kamala Harris, daughter of Jamaican economist Professor Donald Harris, appearing on the presidential ticket and going on to be sworn in as the first female Vice President of the United States.”

He pointed to the fact that “even as Jamaica proudly celebrates 60 years of political independence on August 6, the nation continues to be dependent on the vast input from its Diaspora.

“Remittances from the Diaspora to Jamaica reportedly reached US$3.3 billion in 2021, representing an increase of over the US$2.9 billion sent in 2020, and are a vital source of Jamaica’s foreign exchange earnings,” he said.

“In addition to the balance of payments impact, Caribbean economies are more buoyant because of remittances and, most importantly, many Caribbean families are sustained by remittances.

“I therefore want to stress to you this evening, ladies and gentlemen, that  “We are proud of the impact you have made and will continue to have on so many aspects of American life. 

“Those of us home in the Caribbean embrace and feel empowered by your accomplishments despite the struggle of adjustment and integration. When one of you achieves greatness, your entire Caribbean family celebrates with you,” the Opposition Leader declared.

Leader of the Opposition and President of the People's National Party, Mark J. Golding and a delegation of senior leadership in the PNP was in the United States on a “Jamaica 60” four city Tour of the United States from July 13- to 22nd, 2022. 

The Delegation visited Jamaican Diaspora communities in South Florida, Georgia, Washington DC and Maryland and New York. 

The Opposition Leader and his delegation held talks with members of the powerful US House Finance Committee  as well as  members of the Homeland Security and the House Commerce and Energy Committee.

Members of the  delegation, included Opposition spokesperson on Justice, Senator Donna Scott-Mottley; Party Chair Dr. Angela Brown-Burke; General Secretary Dr. Dayton Campbell; Opposition Spokesman on National Security Senator Peter Bunting; Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs,Foreign Trade and Diaspora matters, Ms Lisa Hanna; Junior shadow spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Christopher Henry, Ms Nekeisha Burchell, and Ms. Kisha Anderson as well as Mrs Betty Barrett-Thompson.

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