Sunday, September 09, 2012

Caribbean: do impoverished youngsters always seem to be packing a BB rifle?

Caribbean_general_map by trudeau
Caribbean_general_map, a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

Plinking small iguanas, rodents and birds for the family stewpot, the youth of the Caribbean nations always seem to have a BB gun at their side.

In truth, I made up this story as a mnemonic. Can you explain the import of this mnemonic tale?

The big islands are called the Greater Antilles.
- Near the islands is the Yucatan Peninsula, home to the notable resort islands of Cancun and Cozumel.
- Cuba, aside from Havana a mystery to the US because of the trade embargo.
- Haiti, often called the most impoverished nation in the western hemisphere, has an Afro-French-American culture.
- Dominican Republic is on the same island as Haiti but has a Spanish culture. Home of one of Columbus' first HQ's.
- Puerto Rico ia a US Territory. In 9
'93 and '98 the people voted to remain a territory (US citizenship but cannot vote) and not become a US state. But the issue comes up for a vote again in Nov.
- US Virgin Islands are named for the Virgin Queen, the British queen, Elizabeth I, who never married though her reign was long: 1533 - 1603.
- Jamaica was British for a long time so the Rasta dialect is British-African. It's the home of reggae music.

The smaller islands are grouped under the name Lesser Antilles.
- Trinidad & Tobago have an unusual diversity in ethnic profile. Many Asians as well as African peoples and Euros make their home in Trinidad.

What can we learn from the mostly-impoverished peoples of the Caribbean? Their greatest gifts to the world are in colorful art made from scraps (Haiti, Jamaica), in music (reggae, son, soca, etc)
and cooking (jerk chicken, fried plantains, ceviche, etc). Otherwise, their pace of life is notably slow and close to nature.