Afro-Trinidadian and Tobagonian
Geoffrey Holder • Patrick Manning
|Over 1.5 million worldwide|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Trinidad and Tobago ~ 520,000|
Afro-Trinidadian and Tobagonian (or just Afro-Trinidadian) people are people of Trinidad and Tobagonian descent who are largely of African descent. Black, Negro or Creole are common terms used to describe Afro-Trinidadians. Social interpretations of race in Trinidad and Tobago is often used to dictate who is of African descent, e.g. a person might appear "white" in appearance but may still be considered "black" based upon significant African ancestry. Mulatto, Zambo, Quadroon, or Octoroon were all racial terms used to measure the amount of African ancestry someone possessed in Trinidad and throughout Latin American and Caribbean history.
Afro-Trinidadian and Tobagonians account for 39.5% of the population of Trinidad and Tobago as of 2000. However the classification is primarily a superficial description based on phenotypical (physical) description opposed to genotypical (genetic) classification. It is not uncommon for Trinidadians of both Indian descent to be considered Afro-Trinidadian solely based on appearance. An additional 18.4% of Trinidadians described themselves as being Multiracial (Dougla), although most multiracial Trinidadians are of African descent.
The islands of Trinidad and Tobago (united in 1888) have a different racial history. The island of Trinidad is mainly multiracial and the population of Tobago is primarily what is considered Afro-Tobagonian which is synonymous with Afro-Trinidadian, with the exception that the people of Tobago are almost exclusively of direct African ancestry. In an effort to unite the cultural and ethnic divide between the two islands many people choose to be called Trinbagonians as a sign of unity.
|African ethnicities over 500 in Trinidad (1813)|
|Origins of Creoles over 400 in Trinidad (1813)|
The ultimate origin of most African ancestry in the Americas is in West and Central Africa. The most common ethnic groups of the enslaved Africans in Trinidad and Tobago were Igbo, Kongo and Malinke people. All of these groups, among others, were heavily affected by the Atlantic slave trade. The population census of 1813 shows that among African-born slaves the Igbo were the most numerous.
Around half of Afro-Trinidadians were the descendants of immigrants from other islands of the Caribbean, especially Martinique and Grenada. Other Afro-Trinidadians trace their ancestry to American slaves recruited to fight for the British in the War of 1812 or from indentured laborers from West Africa.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2012)|
In 1498 Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Trinidad where he encountered the indigenous Taino people (Arawakan) and the Kalinagos (Cariban). A while after Columbus's landing Trinidad became a territory of the Spanish Empire. The Spanish enslaved the Amerindians and over time mixed with them creating the Mestizo identity with their offspring. The Mulattos came about after Spain started transporting enslaved Africans to Trinidad in 1517 via the Atlantic slave trade. By the time the African, Mulattos and Mestizos started intermixing, the Amerindians became almost nonexistent.
In 1783 the King of Spain passed the Cedula of Population law which promised free land to Europeans willing to relocate to Trinidad to work. With this law French settlers and their creole slaves migrated to Trinidad to work the sugar cane plantations. They too added to the ancestry of Trinidadians, creating the creole identity; Spanish, French, and Patois were the languages spoken.
In 1802 Great Britain took over the island and slavery was eventually abolished in 1834. The abolition of slavery led to an influx of indentured servants from places such as China. The conditions were horrible. While some left, many stayed and married into the Trinidadian populace. In 1911, many more Chinese came after the Chinese Revolution.
In the 1840s, European indentured servants began arriving including: the French, Spanish, West Africans, Creoles, Chinese, Germans, Swiss, Portuguese, British, Italians, Mexicans, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Arabs, Lebanese, African Americans, Other Caribbean islands, Venezuela, and Irish (many of which also settled in Montserrat, also known for their high number of redheads). A high number of these settlers married into the families of the freed slaves over time.
On May 30, 1845, the British transported indentured servants from East India to Trinidad. The conditions were not that much different from the African slave trade this day is known as Indian Arrival Day. The first group of East Indian people also began to mix into the Trinidadian populous. After the use of indentured servants was abolished 1917, a second group of East Indian people steadily migrated to Trinidad from India referred to as "coolies" (which is a racial slur directed toward the newly arriving East Indian people most of which kept their East Indian customs).
Because of this rich and unique cultural heritage Afro-Trinidadian and Tobagonians are known as one of the most ethnically, racially, and culturally diverse people in the world.
 Use of Afro Trinidadian and Tobagonian
 Afro-Trinidadian and Tobagonian
Between 1968 and 1970 the "Black Power Revolution" gained strength in Trinidad and Tobago. The National Joint Action Committee was formed by a group of Undergraduates at the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies. Influenced by people such as Fidel Castro, Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X . The National Joint Action Committee demonstrated to bring about Black Power and a return to African heritage and African culture.
On April 6, 1970 a protester, Basil Davis, was killed by the police. This was followed on April 13 by the resignation of A.N.R. Robinson, Member of Parliament for Tobago East. On April 18 sugar workers went on strike, and there was talk of a general strike. In response to this, Williams proclaimed a State of Emergency on April 21 and arrested 15 Black Power leaders. Responding in turn, a portion of the Trinidad Defense Force, led by Raffique Shah and Rex Lassalle, mutinied and took hostages at the army barracks at Teteron. Through the action of the Coast Guard and negotiations between the Government and the rebels, the mutiny was contained and the mutineers surrendered on April 25. It was around this time the term Afro-Trinidadian was started to be used.
The massive influx of African slaves to Trinidadian and Tobagonian shores that happened in the 16th and 18th century respectively was important in shaping the cultural space of Trinidad and Tobago. Afro Trinidadian culture is immanent within and encapsulates all other cultures. Afro-Trinidadian culture is decisive in Steelpan Culture, Carnival Culture, and Calypso Culture and also helped in many ways to shape.
It is said that Trinidadian and Tobagonians may be the most heterogeneous people on Earth. Similar to major cities like New York City or ancient civilizations like Ancient Egypt, Trinidad has been and still is a melting pot where people from all over the world meet. With the exception of Antarctica you can find a person that has ancestry from just about every continent on earth.
Afro-Trinidadians have approximately 45% to 65% African ancestry mainly from West Africa. Afro-Tobagonians have approximately 85% to 95% African ancestry also mainly from West Africa. From the time the French colonized Trinidad French Creoles (primarily white in appearance) were and to an extent still are considered the elite class. French Creoles, for the most part, are isolated from the general of the population. French Creoles (people strong of French European decent) and their Creole servants (Mulattos 1/ 2 black, Quadroons 1/4 black, and Octoroons 1/8 black, originally from France), did marry in high numbers and today many Trinidadian people who self-identify as "White" have some degree of African ancestry 2% to 10%.
Afro-Trinidadians have 25% to 35% East Indian ancestry. Some people consider themselves dougla, and some do not find a need to make reference to their ancestry if they are part Indian and part African.
A host of European countries have colonized and populated Trinidad over the centuries. Inevitably many different European people have added their genetic distinctiveness to the populous. A series of Afro-Trinidadian and Tobagonians were studied with respect to hemoglobin types, serum protein systems (Tf and Gc subtypes) and red cell enzyme types (AcPh, 6-PGD, AK, EsD, GLO and PGM1). The average Caucasian admixture was estimated at 25% similar to Louisiana Creole people in America, certain populations in Guyana, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Brazil. The similarities are most likely due to the Spanish, Portuguese, and French colonials.
In addition, prior to the African Trans-Atlantic slave trade, The British forcefully enslaved both Irish and the Scottish people. Prior to 1619 (beginning of the African slave trade) the Battle of Kinsale between the Irish and the English resulted in some 30,000 military prisoners, in which they created an official policy of banishment. The policy would mean slavery for the Irish and the Scottish in the Americas. During this time period the importation of African slaves began. Since the white slaves were of very fair complexion and did not do well in the sun, it was in the slave masters interest to make sure the African slaves and the Irish/Scottish slaved procreated. European slavery ended in the late 17th century. However, between 1600 to 1699, more Irish and Scots were sold as slaves than Africans. Only after the African Slave trade had become more profitable did the Irish and Scottish become indentured servants receive the option to earn their freedom. As a result of this slave trade the Caribbean has a large amount of people of Celtic and African descent, including Antigua, Barbados, Jamaica, Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, and most noticeable on the Island of Montserrat where it has the highest population of redheads outside of Ireland, it is also known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean . Because of this history it is common for some people to have Celtic last names (Marcus Garvey, Irish last name) throughout the Caribbean. 
Afro-Trinidadians have approximately 2% to 5% Indigenous/Native American ancestry. The main groups of indigenous people were the Caribs and Arawaks (also known as Tainos) Amerindians. The Amerindians are a dead culture and most full-blooded Amerindians died during the colonization of the islands, and from malnutrition during slavery. The majority of the people have been absorbed into the population throughout the Caribbean. There are still populations in Trinidad that claim themselves as Amerindian, however most are of Mestizo and/or Zambo extraction or are transplants from Venezuela. 
Afro-Trinidadian and Tobagonians have approximately 1% to 2% East Asian Ancestry, mainly from China.
Afro-Trinidadian and Tobagonians have approximately 1% ancestry of other descent. Trinidad has had smaller populations of Lebanese, Syrian, and other Arab backgrounds.
 Religious Groups
Most Afro-Trinidadian and Tobagonians are Christian, with the largest group being Roman Catholics, Anglicans and (in Tobago) Methodists. Smaller numbers follow Afro-Caribbean syncretic faiths like the Spiritual Baptist Church and the Rastafari movement. Non-Christians include adherents of Islam, the Orisha faith, the Bahá'í Faith, Hinduism or are followers of Sai Baba.
 Notable Afro-Trinidadians and Tobagonians
 Politics and government
- Patrick Manning
- Eric Williams
- Henry Sylvester-Williams
- A.N.R. Robinson
- C.L.R. James
- Darcus Howe
- Makandal Daaga
- Keith Rowley
- Yasin Abu Bakr
- Stokely Carmichael
 Business and Industry
 Music, Arts and Entertainment
- Heather Headley
- Nicki Minaj
- Teyana Taylor
- Theophilus London
- Phife Dawg
- Tatyana Ali
- Nia Long
- Foxy Brown
- Wendy Fitzwilliam
- Janelle Commissiong
- Machel Montano
- Geoffrey Holder
- Hazelle Goodman
- Billy Ocean
- Destra Garcia
- Bunji Garlin
- Denise Belfon
- Calypso Rose
- Fay-Ann Lyons
- Mighty Sparrow
- Trinidad James
- Patrice Roberts
- Dwight Yorke
- Brian Lara
- Hasely Crawford
- Richard Thompson
- Ato Boldon
- Shaka Hislop
- Keston Bledman
- Kelly-Ann Baptiste
- Stern John
- Kenwyne Jones
- Brent Sancho
- Dwayne Bravo
- Gabrielle Reece
- Keshorn Walcott
- Marc Burns
- Lalonde Gordon
 See also
- Stefano Harney (1996). Nationalism and Identity: Culture and the Imagination in a Caribbean Diaspora. Zed Books. ISBN 978-1-85649-376-5.
- Higman, B. W. (1995). Slave populations of the British Caribbean, 1807-1834 (reprint ed.). The Press, University of the West Indies. p. 450. ISBN 978-976-640-010-1.
- Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad 1870-1900
- Trinidad French Creole
- Estimates of African, European and Native American Ancestry in Afro-Caribbean Men .
- Irish Slavery.
- Chronology on the History of Slavery 1619 to 1789.
- History of slavery, British and French Caribbean .
- Estimates of African, European and Native American Ancestry in Afro-Caribbean Men.