“The despair of classifiers, area studies programs, Kremlinologists in ill-fitting sombreros, North American race relations experts, ambulant East European commissars and the CIA, the Caribbean region goes its own way, richly researched but poorly understood. Too black to be purely European, too North European to be simply Latin, too modern to be primitive, too “overdeveloped” to be accurately labeled “underdeveloped”, its diversities seem contradictory, its unities artificial or obvious.” So writes the anthropologist, Sidney Mintz.
The Caribbean along with the United States constitutes two of the most important sites of the African Diaspora. Not only are they geographically close, but also their diasporic communities have significantly influenced each other in quite a variety of ways.
If the Harlem Renaissance is the pivotal moment in the development of African American self-consciousness, the moment when black people publicly and politically interrogated themselves and answering who they were and wished to be, then the influence of Caribbean Diaspora is clearly evidenced. Marcus Garvey and Claude McKay, to name a few, earmark the participatory base of this struggle.
Indeed, the gravitational influence of the struggles of the African American people on the consciousness of the Caribbean Diaspora is indisputable. The influence exerted in both directions can also not be underestimated. This includes not only the political, but the cultural, philosophical, and aesthetic as well.
Migrations of great numbers of Caribbean people in recent decades also show a significant import. Beyond a doubt, Howard University has played an eminent role as a meeting ground of the Caribbean Diaspora with the African American Diaspora. Historically the university-of-choice in the Caribbean, it has educated a formidable number of Caribbean students. Its faculty also boasted significant numbers from the Caribbean Diaspora.