Tracing the Racial and Ethnic Socialization of Caribbean American Youth
Chapter Two: Life Narratives: Identities in Transition
← 59 | 60 → CHAPTER TWO
Life Narratives: Identities in Transition
After wrapping up the CWT (“Can We Talk?”) project in June of the prior school year, I began the next school year by exploring only the experiences of Caribbean American students. My comfort with students, teachers, and school personnel made my transition to working with Caribbean American students and families rather smooth. I solicited the contact information of Morristown students who expressed interest in participating in this study and began calling Caribbean parents to further discuss the parameters of the study. Calling the homes of children whose families hailed from various regions of the Caribbean, I heard a multiplicity of accents and languages indicative of distinct cultural and ethnic backgrounds. In several instances, I reached Creole-speaking parents and grandparents from Haiti, whose thick accents and inability to speak English created barriers to communicating. I also spoke with parents from the English-speaking Caribbean, and while I could understand these parents very well – they shared marked similarities to my family’s dialect – their accents, as much as the language barriers in other cases, bespoke the intersections and tensions often endemic to the amalgamation of several distinct cultures under one roof.
Although it was often difficult to distinguish Caribbean American and Black American students from one another at school, the first meeting with parents of Caribbean American students reflected a very different reality. The following vignette demonstrates the ways in which parents’ ethnic and cultural markers came alive in...
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