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We Are The Caribbean

Top 5 Chart Toppers: Jamaica

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As people, though we may come from far and wide, our ability to express ourselves through music always remains the same. Everyone loves to groove to a rocking beat. It is the highlight of any party. Other than the food, people will always remember a gathering for its good rhythms that had (or didn’t have) the guests moving. This summer, we were blessed with some tunes that rocked the charts week after week. Now, we travel to Jamaica for this month’s rendition of “Top 5 Chart Toppers.”

1. Toast by Koffee

This vibrant new face of Jamaica has remained #1 on the charts all summer long. Her single, “Toast”, celebrates all of life’s blessings. Thanking God for the journey, its ups and downs and reminding those listening to remain humble once the success finally comes. It is a feel-good song that is very hard to not “buss a toast” to no matter where you are when it is heard.

2. Contra La Pared by J. Balvin, Sean Paul

We all know Sean Paul from his biggest hits “Get Busy”, “Temperature” and “I’m Still In Love With You”. The new face, J. Balvin, is a Colombian reggaeton recording artist. Along with “Contra La Paeed”, he has been featured on other popular songs such as Cardi B’s “I Like It”. Though the song may be a little hard to understand, because of his parts being in Spanish, the beat takes over your body almost forcing you to tap a toe, bop a head or rock a shoulder … and that Is at the very least.

3. Medication by Damian Marley, Stephen Marley

Imagine an old school beat with a new age feel and you have the formula to this hit. Damian Marley’s third album, “Stony Hill”, was released in 2017 and still holds a spot in Jamaica’s top 5 charted this summer. That alone should make you eager to tune in. In case you were unaware, Damian and Stephen are the children of the late Bob Marley. Some say Damian is the one who sounds most like his father. If you haven’t already, give this tune a listen and see if you agree.

4. Rapture (Remix) by Govana, Koffee

In this tune, Koffee and Govana are owning their talent and impact on the beat. “Koffee come in like a rapture”, wreaking havoc on the game of music that she has, what almost seems like overnight, dominated. She doesn’t forget to give back in any way she can, as pointed out several times by Govana. Though we love to whine and have our fun, it is nice to hear sensible lyrics that still make you want to dance all night, and that is exactly what the world gets from a tune like this.

5. Any Weather by Vybz Kartel

From day one, Vybz Kartel has not disappointed his fans. That is why his spot on the top 5 charts should not be a surprise. Kartel is known for his party anthems and we must make sure to add this new song to that long list. If you listen closely, it is in his intention to motivate those listening through the topic chosen. “All ghetto youth, get your money longer” and the words to follow in the chorus expresses the want for his people to make something better for themselves and we hope they all don’t take that suggestion lightly.

Each month we will debunk different areas “Top Charters” so we can all become well versed, or even get introduced to something new to groove to. If you listened to any of the songs listed above, let us know how you felt about them. Did you have a favorite? What area in the Caribbean would you all like to see featured next?

Richard E. Myers II, of Kingston, JA, Recently Nominated for US Federal Judge

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Richard E. Myers was born in Kingston, Jamaica and lived there for several years before migrating to Miami (at 10 years old) and later to North Carolina (at 14). Myers received his education (Bachelors, Masters and Law Degrees) from the University of North Carolina. It wasn’t until the events of 9/11 that he decided to pursue becoming a Prosecutor. Throughout his career, he has worked in several positions including Prosecutor, Defense Attorney, Journalist and now a Law Professor at his alma mater.

On August 14, Trump nominated the professor to be a federal judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The post has been vacant since January 2006, making it the longest federal judge vacancy in America. The position has been vacant for 13 years due to the habit of US Senators in blocking the confirmation of nominees (this is done by a simple majority vote that is required to confirm or reject a nominee).

Myers is seemingly a good pick. North Carolina’s two senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have both voiced their support for Myers as the new federal judge. In a statement, Tills said, “Myers’ prosecutorial work, as well as his well-deserved reputation as one of our state’s best legal scholars provide him with the background and qualifications required to serve the Eastern District with distinction”.

If Senate accepts Myers’ nomination, even though blacks account for 30 percent of the district’s population, he will be the Eastern District of North Carolina’s first black federal judge.

As a race, it is always heartwarming to see a black man do great things such as these, but it is particularly great to see it being done by a man who once used to be known as just an immigrant.

We are never able to forget that one point in time, we were all just descendants of immigrants. We sure have evolved, haven’t we? Now we move mountains as political figures, preachers, teachers, doctors, CEOs and the list goes on and on. Because of one brave decision made by the head of a household to pack up and move their family on to better, we get to reap these beautiful fruits of our ancestor’s labor.

I want you to take a moment think of something you are thankful for having the opportunity to accomplish as a direct effect of your family taking the plunge to move on to better, smile and thank God. May you continue to bless the world with your gift and pass on the same idea that anything is possible with a little hard work and intent to your future generations.

You Know You Are Caribbean When…

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In our community, we have some very special ways of expressing ourselves. Growing up, you probably have rolled your eyes at your elders on more than one of these occasions we are calling “you know you are Caribbean when…”:

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1. Labels on a container don’t mean anything

Have you ever seen a container of your favorite snack on a shelf and ran over to open it, only to find none other than sewing materials inside? Ever thought you hit the jackpot by finding that last bit of butter you needed in the fridge but, surprise, it’s some type of curried meat? Congratulations! You are a chosen one. You are Caribbean.

2. The family is always growing

One may think a growing family is only due to newborns, but a true Caribbean knows not to exclude the fully grown from this equation. How many times has someone brought around a new aunt or uncle for you to meet that you have never seen before in your life? You probably have run out of fingers.  It becomes second nature to accept the new addition, give a big hug like your life depended on it and make that person feel loved. It is something we all should cherish about our upbringing, no matter how random it tends to be, because we love hard and we extend it to all of those in need without ever thinking twice.

3. You have perfected the art of stealing from the pot without making a sound

The best meals always take the longest time to cook. Don’t they? We all have that one story of trying to steal from the pot before dinner was “ready” and getting caught, some might have the scars to go along with the tale. It is always at the last second, those last couple of inches before you get the lid fully closed, that the sweat from your hand or gravity or (in our caretaker’s minds) the evil spirits turn on us and cause a commotion. Then comes the “what was that?!”. All of a sudden, the person who was just so tired that they couldn’t move turns into a track star and ends up right behind you before you can take your next blink. Now you have a hot piece of something burning the roof of your mouth all because you just wanted a little taste. Was it worth it? 100%, yes. Every time.

4. We are a group of exaggerators

Have you ever tried to get instructions, whether directions to a destination or a literal “how-to” from someone who made it sound so much easier or harder than it really is?

  • A destination 35 minutes away is “just up the street”
  • An intricate puzzle can be solved in “two steps” when it actually takes 40

BUT THEN…  when things are simple to grasp the person explains it like it would take so much from you if you pursued it. Moral of the story, nothing is ever to be taken literal.

5. We are very in tune with our “spirit”

We all have that one family member, or this one actually could be you, who uses the fact that their spirit guided them as a response for everything.

  • “You don’t like so and so? Why?”
    • “My spirit can’t take them”

Or

  • “Why don’t you want to come with us”
    • “My spirit can’t bother”

As we grow, we realize that that “spirit” is our intuition (our gut feeling) and then it all starts to make sense. It just sounds silly.

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What is something not mentioned that only growing up Caribbean would help you understand? Though the nostalgia might have put you in a mood, have you ever caught yourself doing any of the things listed above?

Like they say, you can take the man out of the place, but you can’t take the place out of man.

Haitian Family Reunification Parole Programme in Jeopardy

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In this new age, thoughts and actions pertaining to immigration are ever-changing. We hear about raids in neighborhoods where people are encouraged to stay inside, lock all doors and do not open for anyone under any circumstances. We hear about children coming home from school to find an empty home as a direct effect of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid. We hear a new update about the harsh realities families of immigrants living in this country are facing every single day. We sympathize with these families but never stop to think that one day, it could be us. This is not meant to scare, but to inform. The Trump Administration recently announced that the United States is ending the “Haitian Family Reunification Parole Programme”.

To break it down: the programme was originally launched in 2016, under the Obama Administration, which allowed thousands of Haitians who had already obtained an immigrant visa based on family reunification to wait in the country with their family for their green card to be available. Family reunification meant that the presence of one or more family members in a certain country enabled the rest of the divided family or only specific members of the family to immigrate to that country as well. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has said that the decision is in line with the 2017 Decree 13767 on improvements to border security and immigration enforcement.

In a quick summary, the order limits access to asylum (the protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee), expands the use of detention, enhances enforcement along the U.S. – Mexico border, and ensures that parole into the U.S. is exercised on a case-by-case basis.

“Family reunification must be used on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. USCIS is committed to exercising this limited power in a manner that preserves the integrity of our immigration system and does not encourage foreigners to enter the United States illegally,” said Acting Director of USCIS, Ken Cuccinelli.

Many public and political figures, have spoken out on the matter including head of the Family Action Network, Marleine Bastien, who said the stance taken by the United States is wrong. She feels, especially with the political crises in Haiti currently at a record high, that now is not the time for the Trump Administration to be rolling back protections for Haitian families.

If you have already applied to adjust status to lawful permanent resident (LPR), this termination will not affect you. But, an estimated 50,000 Haitians who currently have temporary permission to legally live and work in the United States are set to lose that benefit on Jan. 2, 2020. A new extension was given by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in February of this year as a result of one of several Temporary Protected Status (TPS) – related lawsuits challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to end TPS for Haitians and Central Americans.

Our political figures on the right side of the issue are fighting for the protection of our people. Until a definite decision is made, all we can do is continue to be aware, if you are so inclined, offer help and continue to pray for the state of this country.

Caribbean food bloggers you should be following today!

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We are living in an unprecedented era of human history. The creation of the internet has made us more connected than ever before birthing a new digital society: social media. This has changed society as we know with new innovations that schools, businesses and cultural scholars are still trying to understand. However, today we are celebrating the unsung heroes of mankind. I’m speaking of the innovators who fuel our desires and heighten our senses in times of need. They give the people what they want. Ladies and gentlemen I’m talking about food bloggers! Food bloggers are using our shared universal human trait of self indulgence to happily torture us with food porn. I mean just look at this:

On a serious note, here at IslandTv we pride ourselves in the mission to share our culture,history and heritage with the world so we are sharing 3 eye candy-extreme foodie accounts across the social media landscape. Whether you are in search of dinner inspirations or just enjoy drooling over photos of diri ak sos pwa, there is definitely a food blogger for you. Here are 5 Caribbean bloggers you should be following right now !

What are your favorite Caribbean food bloggers ? Did we miss someone ? Please be sure to shout us out on Twitter and Instagram! #WeAreTheCaribbean #NouSeKarayib !

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Lamise O

Haitian born and North Dakotan resident, Lamise is no beginner in food vlogging. This veteran has been posting cooking tutorials since 2013. She specializes in Haitian cuisine, a gastronomy rooted in West African, French, Spanish and Taino influences. Her videos are of high quality and her personable approach makes them easy to follow. She also has a second YouTube channel titled Lamise O Recette Creole, for her predominately Haitian Creole speaking audience. Our Favorite videos of hers are the Poission Gros Sel and the Haitian Macaroni Au Gratin tutorial. Be sure to follow her on YouTube Channel and Instagram.

Chris De La Rosa

Chris is an award winning cookbook author who posts every Tuesday on his YouTube Channel, caribbeanpot. He may have just tackled every Caribbean Island dish known to man. By all means we dare you to dive into his unique renditions of Caribbean cuisine as he shares his rich island flavors, roots and love of scotch bonnets with the world. If you’re looking for a daily laugh be sure to watch his daily Instagram highlights as he goes on his grocery adventures ! His website .CaribbeanPot.com is a companion to his YouTube Chanel where he also posts detailed recipes.

Cynthia Ramsay

Do you remember this viral post ? That was Cynthia’s adorable little boy on their family’s recent trip to Haiti feasting on lobster, french fries and fried plantains . But did you know that Cynthia, though Canadian born, is an expert on Haitian food? Her Instagram page is the literally example of #FoodPorn.  Her eye candy aesthetic makes it so easy to lose track of time scrolling down her page.

She teases her audience with a picture of all the ingredients and like a magician captivates our minds for the grand finale that has as our mouths watering as we wait for the second post.  Her Instagram highlights is were she goes in depth on explanations however, she quite responsive in the comments if you any questions! Did you know that san bèf or fried up cow blood is a thing in certain parts of Haiti? Me either but if Cynthia cooking it I’m gotta try it!

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Fashion

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In light of the Gucci and Prada recent controversy, people of color especially those of black descent have become increasingly conscious on the brands they support and are market towards them.

To refresh, last month Gucci came under fire due to their Winter 2018 Balaclava sweater. It was criticized for being an example of blackface. Blackface is when a non black person darkens their skin to resemble someone of African descent. This was prevalent in minstrel shows during the 19th century during which, Caucasian actors would masquerade as blacks in a derogatory and racist manner. By the turn of the 20th century much of The Western World has come to seen it as an repulsive act–or so we thought.

After intense backlash on social media, Gucci issued an apology and confirmed that the turtleneck had been “immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores.” The company release a apology on Twitter account stating,“We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.”

However, many of the African diaspora are a bit wary of such apology and are searching for black own businesses to support. Due to the lack of support and awareness of many black businesses, especially Caribbean own, we are sharing 4 Haitian-Owned Fashion Houses you should be wearing right now!

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Stella Jean

Her unique style is reminiscent of her cultural identity. Jean was to a Haitian mother and Italian father in Rome.

Her common motifs often include merging classical Italian tailoring with Haitian and African style prints and imagery. Her clothes has grace the likes many A-list celebrities, including Rihanna and Beyonce.

Davidson Petit-Frère

This Haitian-American is the guy behind Jay Z, Diddy, Nas and Omari Hardwick iconic looks.

Originally in a career in real estate, Davidson would often post his outfits on his social media. This soon attract attention and sought a way to brand himself and create a lifestyle he can share with others. This led to him co-founding Musika-Frere in 2013 that has now grown into one of the fastest men luxury brands.

Jovana Benoit

Jovana Benoit, the wife of the Haitian Ambassador to Vietnam, opened her first boutique in Vietnam last September, under the brand Jovana Louis.

Her cuts are Asian inspired, specially Vietnam. However, she brings forth her Haitian culture in her design through the use of warm colors reminiscent of the Caribbean and Parisian sophisticated chic.

Her work has graced magazines and worn by former Miss Haiti, Raquel Pelissier.

Prajje Jr. Oscar-Baptiste

Baptiste is the founder and owner of the emerging fashion powerhouse, Prajje. Base in NYC, he borrows heavily from his native Haitian roots. Base on his motifs, he seems to be inspired by Haitian vodou, mythology and folklore imagery. He makes frequent references to Elizi, the Haitian goddess of love and beauty.

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Minds Up, Stigmas Down: Live Mental Health Panel

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Raising awareness of the importance of mental health in Caribbean culture helps to normalize and ends the stigma… Many people suffer in silence because they don’t know how to seek help…We want to dispel the myths and taboo surrounding mental health…

TUNE IN to @islandtvnetwork or @Lunionsuite IG, Twitter and Facebook (@TheHaitianAmerican) Live streams Wednesday, Feb 20th for a packed discussion on mental health in the Caribbean community, featuring an amazing panel of mental health professionals.

Moderator:
Marline Francois-Madden, LCSW @marlinefrancois

Panelists:
Mathew Jean, LMFT @matjeanius
Sara Elysee, LMHC @saraelyseeofficial
Franchesca Fontus, LMFT @franchescafontus_
Georgia Bryce, MFT @georgiabatpllc

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