4 Ways To Instill Caribbean Pride In Your Kids

Whether your family is into dance, flavorful cuisine, or history, there are so many ways to celebrate Caribbean culture.

Colorful house facades of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

June is National Caribbean-American Month. It's a time to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of the Caribbean-Americans in our country who add to the diverse culture of this country. It's also a great time to instill some Caribbean pride in the kiddos.

While it's celebrated in one month, it's important for us to also acknowledge that Caribbean people are not a monolithic group. They hail from a region rich in diverse cultural traditions, styles of music, food, art, spirituality, and more. In fact, there are 13 Caribbean countries, which include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts, and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Caribbean also includes Puerto Rico, which is a territory of the United States, meaning the island is neither a state nor an independent country and its residents are U.S. citizens. However, despite their citizenship, Puerto Ricans cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections.

With 14 cultures to celebrate, it's a good idea to get the kids involved whether your family is from the Caribbean or not. The rich traditions are fun for everyone to enjoy! The bonus is that they'll learn something new at the same time.

4 Ways To Instill Caribbean Pride In Your Kids

Get up and dance!

The Caribbean is known for its music. Many Caribbean countries are extremely musical, so it's not surprising to see people dancing in the streets and hear music playing from everywhere. Can't speak for the entire Caribbean, but in Puerto Rico, some of the gas stations blast salsa from the gas pumps!

So, have a Caribbean dance party at home with the kids. You can enjoy some bachata from the Dominican Republic or reggaeton and salsa from Puerto Rico or rumba with the kids to celebrate Afro-Cuban culture.

Food as a love language

Whether dancing is your thing or not, food is always a winner Latinx Carribean homes. And in the Caribbean, there is no shortage of amazing cuisine. If you weren't moving before, one bite of Caribbean food will surely have you doing the happy dance.

One of the widely recognized cuisines of Cuba is ropa vieja, which translates to old clothes. But ain't nothing old about this dish, which is shredded meat cooked in a delicious sauce with onion, bell peppers, bay leaves, and cumin. Another delicious treat hailing from the Caribbean is known as an empanada in some regions and patties in orders like Jamaica. The ingredients differ slightly, but the idea is the same. A breaded pocket filled with yummy goodness like shredded meat, chicken, or seafood, or you can opt-in for a vegetarian option with veggies and/or cheese.

Get your hands dirty and prepare the food with your kids to really get into the celebration. Not a cook? Good news! There are almost 13.4 million Caribbean-Americans in this country so it's very likely that there's a restaurant nearby for the family to enjoy.

The art of Caribbean life

Aside from the music filling the air and the scent of delicious food, the Caribbean is colorful, rich, and bright with art. Here we must credit the Taíno, who were the first people Christopher Columbus encountered when he supposedly discovered a new world on October 12, 1942, which was actually what we know as the Bahamas today. The Taíno inhabited several islands in the Caribbean and the art that emerged included stonework, ceramics, rock art, body painting, and more. The art often told the stories of Caribbean life from the day-to-day tasks to the holidays and spiritual traditions.

Unfortunately, America is lacking greatly in Caribbean American Museums. In fact, the Island SPACE Caribbean Museum in Miami has been billed as the first Caribbean museum in the U.S. So, if you're in the Miami area, pay a visit to the museum with the kids to immerse yourself in Caribbean culture. Or hit your local bookstore to search for books highlighting Caribbean art to talk to your kids about.

Discovering the heart of Caribbean spirituality

The pre-colonial Caribbean culture was rich with various spiritual traditions and rituals. Although colonizers attempted to stripe the people of these traditions, forcing them to practice Christianity instead, many of the true Caribbean spiritual traditions and rituals still exist and are widely practiced.

Intrigue the kids by explaining the importance of honoring our ancestors, which is of great importance in Caribbean spirituality and religions. Create an altar with them at home to celebrate the lives of their grandparents or another elder in your family that has transitioned beyond human life. Get the kids involved by having them gather the various elements—water, earth, fire, air—that should be included on an altar. Teach them that what may look like just a jar of water, is actually an ofrenda or offering that shows gratitude to the ancestors who help protect and guide us in our lives.

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