Growing up with an Afro Cuban-American mom and Caribbean father has no doubt given me a life full of culture and flare and a strong sense of identity.
Listening to my mother and father politick and reason with each other on various social justice related subjects makes me so proud and definitely influenced my desire to be a humanitarian. Knowing how much they support me and my art and how they pushed me to pursue my education makes me proud.
Just like other American kids with immigrant parents (in this case, my father) we can definitely say we were raised with some things in common.
Below are just a few things you might be able to relate to if you have a Caribbean parent.
1. Being able to understand their accent / translate for others
Growing up with a father who speaks with a strong Caribbean accent is a blessing! His accent is music to my ears. I can understand the most complex of patois and respond back to him! Having a parent who has an accent is totally normal to us…because of course, we’ve been around it all our lives!
You might find a time where someone will have NO idea of what your parents are saying…in this case, you can flex your translator muscles!
Also there’s a sense of community if you encounter someone with a similar accent! If you’re anything like me, I proclaim proudly that my father is from Antigua and before you know it, were briefly bonded off that connection!
Photo credit, Twitter
2. Loud Saturday cleaning music
Can you remember the days of resting comfortably in your bed on a breezy Saturday morning, warm and snug. Your eyes have yet to crack when you hear it… that sound…a chill runs down your spine.
Mami is playing salsa or soca…and it’s a Saturday so it’s time to limpiar la casa. It is just me or can you smell the Fabuloso and feel the carpal tunnel in your hand from scrubbing right now? Hashtag Triggered You say all your life that when you finally move out, you’re not doing the stupid Saturday ritual.
Now you live alone, up at 9:30 a.m. on the dot, twerking and whining up while sweeping your entire house from front to back.
Photo credit: Someecards.com
3. Family game of cell phone hot potato
If you’re anything like me, you know Caribbean families are close knit. Our families are everything to us so if you are near someone who is on the phone with another relative, be prepared to speak on the phone too!
Growing up with my dad it was common to pass around the phone so that everyone got a chance to speak to our relative who lived miles away in the Caribbean. Even if you didn’t know who was on the phone, good manners meant being cordial and behaving as if you’ve been talking consistently with them for years lol
And don’t even get me started on the Whats App epidemic amongst Caribbean Parents
It’s just the Caribbean way!
4. What’s that on the wall?!
In every Caribbean household you will find common features.
Some form of Caribbean art. Small figurines of black people carrying baskets, playing drums etc. Maybe if you’re anything like me, they scared the hell out of you when you were young…but now you collect them too!
You might also find some kind of wood carving art adorning the wall. You will most likely find either a giant wooden spoon and fork set or a perfect outline of your family’s home country. You also might find framed photos of all of your awkward years nestled safely between a portrait of Jesus and the matriarch/patriarch of your family.
Wood art figurines
5. Waiting for you at DA DOOR!
I’m definitely not talking about that meme worthy Scared Straight episode, but your shoes!
It’s common in Caribbean homes to take off your shoes at the door. After 27 years on earth, I’m unsure why! But if you know, leave a message in the comment section!
Photo Credit: FloorMatShop, Amazon
6. Rice, lots of rice
This is a staple in every Caribbean household. Pair that with beans, plantains, some form of protein (chicken or pork) and you have a full meal that is legit for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack.
You will also have an unlimited amount of tea, Bustelo, Horchata, fresh juices and hot pepper sauce at all times in your home. I can guarantee you that most times you don’t know how it got there, but it’s always around **Kanye Shrug**
Saltfish, rice and peas, okra, and ginger tea
7. Vicks Vapor Rub
Cold? Stomach Flu? Broken Arm?
Your parents probably believe Vicks Vapor Rub (paired with a piping hot cup of tea) will remedy any ailment. I’m totally kidding about the broken arm, but can you really say you’re Caribbean if your chest hasn’t been LATHERED in the strong salve?
And you have to admit you end up feeling better the next morning.
Photo credit: Proctor and Gamble, Vicks Vapor Rub
8. Getting fussed at about clothing
Drizzle of rain or a slight breeze? Don’t dare leave the house without proper covering! Caribbean mamas (auntys and grandmas included) will make sure you’re well bundled before stepping out. And don’t think about any back talk! You know to grab your sweater, scarf and jacket if need be before they cancel all your plans all together.
Caribbean parents are loving and stern! You grow up giving respect and not chatting back or giving any lip. This doesn’t change even when you become an adult. You may not always agree, but you respect your parents because they have done so much for you.
In retrospect, the tough love seemed harsh back then, but it helped to make you a responsible and respectable adult.
Two thumbs up for moms and dad and any parental figures!
10. Lots of love
Mother and fathers from Caribbean nations, in my experience, are among the most warm and loving parents in the world. They don’t only try to get you to learn and embrace your roots, they feed you delicious foods, help you when you’re sick, cheer you on, boast about you and sacrifice a lot so you can have better lives!
Kayla B and her Antiguan father
June is Caribbean Heritage Month so celebrate and consider yourself extremely blessed to have a Caribbean parent!
Kayla B. is a contributor for #IAmEnough. She is a proud Afro-Latina and the founder and blogger for Saltlight and Co.