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Indo-Caribbean American people are Americans who trace their ancestry ultimately to India, though whose recent ancestors lived in the Caribbean, where they began migrating in 1838. There are large groups of Indo-Trinidadians, Indo-Guyanese, and Indo-Jamaicans in the United States, especially in New York City, particularly so in Richmond Hill, Queens. Florida, California, Texas and Georgia also have small numbers of Indo-Guyanese and Indo-Trinidadians.
Since the 1960s, a large Indo-Caribbean community has developed in Richmond Hill, New York, a neighborhood in Queens, New York. Additionally, the Indo-Caribbean population has grown rapidly in the Floridian cities of Tampa, Orlando (a large concentration of Guyanese from New York have migrated here), Fort Lauderdale, Port Saint Lucie, Coral Springs, Margate, North Lauderdale (more than 1% of residents in the city were born in Trinidad & Tobago), Sunrise, Plantation, Pompano Beach and Pembroke Pines. Jamaicans of Indian or mixed Indian descent live in moderate numbers throughout Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Indo-Surinamese tend to migrate to the Netherlands, but have started to settle in Florida in small numbers.
Most Indo-Caribbeans have established themselves in the work force, contributing largely to the medical, law, retail, and business fields.
Culture & Religion
Most Indo-Caribbean Americans are followers of Hinduism, with a significant minority belonging to Islam and Presbyterianism. Major holidays such as Diwali, Holi/Phagwah, Eid, and Christmas are celebrated on a modest scale with a distinct flavor unique to the Caribbean, often contrasting with the Indian-American community.
The Richmond Hill Phagwah Parade is the largest Holi celebration in the United States. Thousands attend the parade annually each Spring in Queens, with thousands of attendees crowding Liberty Avenue and Smoky Oval Park.
South Florida has become a destination for roti shops, sari boutiques, threading, annual religious Diwali and Phagwah events and a popular spot for Indo-Caribbean artists. The Florida Melody Makers are the most well known Indo-Caribbean American band for years and continue to perform around the Southeastern US. 980 AM hosts musical programming weekly every Saturday and features community leaders like Bhagwan Singh, Natty Ramoutar, and Sam Subramani.
Most cultural shows continue to tie a cultural bond between the Indo-Caribbean and Indian-American communities, as well as inter-religious bonding between Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, especially those hosted at educational institutions with an Indian Students Association like Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University, and University of Miami.
The Shiva Mandir of Oakland Park, was built in the 1980s by the Florida Hindu Organization and hosts one of the largest annual Diwali shows in Florida. The Krishna Mandir of Hollywood, Arya Samaj of Plantation, and Shiv Lingam Temple of Margate are largely attended by Indo-Caribbeans. Plantation High School hosted an annual Diwali show from 1993 to 2008, a school where most Caribbeans and Asians are of Indian descent. Starting as a one-day event in 2008 and expanding to a three-day event since 2009, the Divali Nagar entertains the local community with musical performances, food, and vendors.
Music is a large part of the Indo-Caribbean American community, which includes the tunes of Bollywood, Carnatic music, bhajans, chutney music, soca (Indo-Caribbeans participate in Miami Carnival and Labor Day Carnival in huge numbers), parang, steel pan, tassa, calypso, and dancehall. Bharatnatyam and kathak are respected classical traditional dances, yet bhangra fusion and dance items from Hindi films, Tamil films, and Telugu films have grown in favor as well. With the increasing emphasis on partying, chutney music and soca music are preferred by the young crowd.
In 2008 a non profit organization Jayadevi Arts Inc (JAI) preserve, present, unite, educate, and promote the arts and culture of Indo- Caribbean communities from Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica, Suriname, and other parts of the Caribbean living in the South Florida area. JAI works to rejuvenate Indo-Caribbean cultural and artistic life and to restore self-esteem to this new American community. Their future events are a United Phagwa Parade, preserving and promoting dying art forms, and educating the Youths on Indo-Caribbean traditions, protocols, and culture.
The size of the Indo-Caribbean community in America is uncertain, as many were classified as either black or Asian Indian. Approximately 400,000 Americans were born in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, the former having an Indian plurality, and the latter being 40% Indian and 18% mixed-race (many of which are part-Indian and part-African). The percentage of these who are of Indian origin, however, is uncertain.
Indo-Guyanese are the majority of the Indo-Caribbean population in the Northeast (while growing in size in Florida, Texas, and Minnesota), while Indo-Trinidadians are the majority in the Southeast. Indo-Jamaicans, Indo-Surinamese, and Indo-Caribbeans from Belize, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados live mostly in the Southeast.
Notable Indo-Caribbean Americans
- Asha Blake - Emmy award-winning journalist
- Nicole Narain - Model and actress
- Rozonda Thomas - R&B singer and actress
- Thara Prashad - R&B singer and model
- Rajiv Maragh - Jockey
Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian Americans
- Anantanand Rambachan - Hindu Religious scholar
- Lakshmi Singh - NPR's national midday newscaster
- Mervyn M. Dymally - California Democratic politician
- Nicki Minaj - Rapper and singer-songwriter
- Tatyana Ali - Actress and R&B singer
- Chhaya Community Development report
- The importance of being counted
- US Census 2000 foreign born population by country