Heritage (noun) - something that is handed down from the past, as a tradition: something that come or belongs to one by reason of birth; an inherited lot of portion.
The Caribbean is a region that consists of the Caribbean Sea – some of its islands are surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and some are bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding coasts. Islands include: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos, Jamaica, Grenada, and more.
I am an American by birth, Dominican by heritage. My mother and father both left the Dominican Republic, at different times in their lives, and arrived en Nueva York. My mother arrived in NY as an 11-year-old girl with her mother, father and four brothers and sisters. My father made the trip to NYC as a 30-something-year-old man, navigating NY on his own and eventually settling down in a small town in southern NJ.
As a kid, I did not read books that spoke to my experience of being raised by parents who regarded a different place as “home.” I grew to learn, love, and appreciate the island my parents regarded as home through their teachings and the values passed on to me. My abuelas passed down traditional foods, folklore; my mother passed down herbal remedies, beauty regimens, women-empowering values that often deviated with her own upbringing; my father passed down literature and his love for music & dancing; my extended family passed down tradition, custom and the distinct dialect of Spanish that Dominicans speak.
In honor of Caribbean-American Heritage Month, check out the books below with storylines centered around Caribbean-American culture/heritage and/or featuring Caribbean-American protagonists/characters.
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
My Tata's Remedies / Los remedios de mi Tata by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford
How Tía Lola Came to
Visit Stay by Julia Alvarez
Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender
The Jumbies and Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez *one of my personal favorites!*
Becoming Maria by Sonia Manzano
Running Girl and Kid Alone (Garvie Smith series) by Simon Mason
All About Mia by Lisa Williamson
Main photo via Flickr/ Robert and Talbot Trudeau