Wollaston-TaraDo black Caribbean Americans identify with their African American counterparts in the United States? As a citizen or resident of the U.S., how do native islanders fit in? Turns out Caribbean Americans, a small share of the total foreign-born population in the U.S., may feel the need to establish their own voice.
According to the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, Caribbean nationals reached nine percent of the total immigrant population in 2009. However, this group has seen a relative decrease in growth each decade since 1970. The largest number of Caribbean Americans reside in the state of Florida, at 40 percent, followed by New York’s 29 percent.

marshall-parkelderBetty Reid-Soskin is America’s oldest National Park Ranger and one of the most beautiful people I have met in Richmond, Calif., across the bay from San Francisco.

I had the pleasure of meeting her recently as she led a bus tour of the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, honoring the women who did factory worked for the war effort.

avila-obamaIn a packed high school gym in Las Vegas, Nevada, President Barack Obama calmly spoke on the real possibility of comprehensive immigration reform. As I sat in my chair just 15 feet away from the president, I was trying to understand what was going on in front of me. As an individual that was undocumented for 22 years here in the United States, I couldn’t believe that I was about to hear a speech that I have dreamed of my entire adult life.

Only four months prior, I would have not been allowed in to this event since I wouldn’t have been able to provide proper identification. Back then, I was an undocumented immigrant with very little opportunity in this country.

theoharis-rosaparksTo honor the centennial of the birth of Rosa Parks on Feb. 4, 1913, the United States Postal Service has issued a Rosa Parks stamp. Last year, a stone carving of Parks was added to the National Cathedral. In 2005, she became the first woman and second African American to lie in honor in the nation's Capitol and, through a special act of Congress, a statue of her was ordered placed in the Capitol.

Yet these tributes to Rosa Parks rest on a narrow and distorted vision of her legacy. As the story goes, a quiet Montgomery, Ala., seamstress with a single act challenged Southern segregation, catapulted a young Martin Luther King Jr. into national leadership and ushered in the modern civil rights movement. Parks' memorialization promotes an improbable children's story of social change -- one not-angry woman sat down, the country was galvanized and structural racism was vanquished.