Grenadian Americans

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Grenadian Americans
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Total population
28,488 (Grenadian ancestry, 2010 US census) [1]
31,263 (Grenadian-born, 2013) [2]
Regions with significant populations
Languages
Grenadian Creole, American English
Religion
Predominantly Roman Catholicism

Grenadian Americans are Americans whose ancestry came from the Caribbean island of Grenada, or Grenadians who have American citizenship. Since 1984, nearly 850 Grenadians arrive legally in the United States each year, and the number of Grenadian Americans was 25,924 in 2000.[1] They began immigrating to the US primarily from 1950. Between 2007 and 2011, there were approximately 30,320 Grenadian-born residents in the United States.[2]

History[edit]

The Grenadian migration to the United States began in the first half of the twentieth century. Grenadians first settled in urban areas of the northeastern US, primarily in New York and Boston. Between 1900 and 1940 the number of Grenadians who emigrated to the US did not reach a thousand.

Grenadian immigration to the US increased only from the 1950s, after World War II. This increase was due to female migration at the end of the decade. However, few Grenadians were allowed to enter the US legally. Grenadian women often worked as nurses or in the domestic services. In the mid-1950s, when oil refineries were machined in Grenada and had reduced their operating income, the US allowed a group of oil workers in Grenada to emigrate to this country. These men and women managed to immigrate to the US legally by various means. Some had made significant relationships at work in the oil enclave or in the naval base (in Chaguaramas, Trinidad), and their bosses gave references to American employers. Others had sent their children to US schools, and once they found jobs and sponsors to help them with immigration requirements, they would apply for permanent residence for their parents. Others originally traveled to England or emigrated to the United States Virgin Islands, where they worked in oil refineries, to emigrate from there, most of them crossing Canada, to the United States.

Canada sponsored cleanup programs in the Caribbean and also allowed a few hundred women from Grenada to enter the US as immigrants. After serving the mandatory two years in the Canadian program, these women settled in the areas of Washington, DC, New York, and Boston. During the 1960s, the US developed its own program for sponsoing domestic workers in the Caribbean. Hundreds of women from Grenada entered the US to work in domestic service in the Northeast, particularly in New York.

Following the adoption of the Hart-Celler Immigration Reform, 1965, the number of Grenadians who came to this country increased. This law replaced the mass emigration from Europe, to the US, by the Caribbean. The government found this foreign policy more advantageous due to a renewed interest in the Caribbean.

Statistics from the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the US in the period between 1960 and 1980, show 10,391 Grenadians who entered the US legally. However, during those years many Grenadians also immigrated illegally. Between 1971 and 1984 just over 12,000 immigrants entered New York from Grenada.

In the 1970s and 1980s many Grenadians who emigrated from Grenada to the US not only left the island for economic reasons, but also for political reasons. They rejected the change of politicians in Granada, because these were moving from pro-democratic values to ideas associated with communism.[3]

In September 2009, an American of Grenadian descent, Jumaane Williams, became the first Grenadian-American in New York City's Council.[4]

Demography[edit]

Since 1984 about 850 Grenadians arrive legally in the United States each year. At present, the number of Grenadians who can enter the US legally is very low compared to European immigrants arriving in the US. However, the number of Grenadians that might come, exceed the allowed number of the same at the beginning of the century.

The Grenadians move to the US for a number of reasons, such as to achieve better economic and political conditions in the United States. They live with relatives who emigrated to the US before them. While living in the US, many Grenadians maintain contact with family members who still reside on the island. Some Grenadian Americans leave the United States for visits to their relatives on the island, and the islanders are constantly flying to the US to visit relatives living in this country. Some of these visitors to the island use their visits as a means of illegal entry into the United States. These people, to find work or attend schools in the United States, don't often return to Grenada.

Although the majority language is English, many Grenadian Americans also speak their "creole" or "broken Creole, a combination of French, Inglés, and African patois.

Most Grenadians (53 percent) are Roman Catholic. Protestant sects are about 33 percent of the population. Islam is also practiced by some Grenadian Americans. A small number of Grenadians practice Rastafarianism.

Older Grenadian immigrants retain many traditional customs of Grenada and the values of their homeland, while younger Grenadian Americans begin to take on the traditional customs of the United States and its values, particularly those of the African Americans.

Despite this shift in values, contact with and support of Grenadians in the island remains high. Many organizations have been created by Americans of Grenadian origin whose primary objective is to send funds to support the island.

New York is the main place of Grenadian emigration in the world.[3]

Assimilation[edit]

Most Grenadian Americans are descendants of African slaves. Other Grenadians ethnic groups are mulattos (mixture of black and European), East Indians (who are descended from laborers who worked on plantations after the slaves were freed), and whites of European origin. Immigrating to the United States has in many cases meant moving into neighborhoods dominated by African American culture.[3]

Education[edit]

Education is very important for the Grenadian American, as it is a way to prosper. Thus, they attend school every day, meeting with US law. Most people in this group attend public schools, but some study in private schools, especially parochial schools. There are also many adult Grenadians who have decided to study for technical training or finish high school. A growing number of Grenadians attend college in the US. Although many Grenadians come to the US in order to have better jobs in Grenada in the future, they end up settling permanently in the US, and raising a family. Some do return to Grenada to help their compatriots.[3]

Politics[edit]

Grenadian Americans still retain strong ties to Grenada, and know much of the politics of their country, which is received by radio, newspapers and television. They also gather information through telephone communication with family and friends who still live there.

Most Grenadian Americans supported the invasion American of Grenada in 1983 because they believed that, in this way, the US could restore democracy in that country.

The Grenadians living in the US tend to help people who still live in their country of origin. On 28 January 1999, a press release was issued by the office of Prime Minister of Grenada which indicated that just the day before, nearly 300 Americans had met with Grenadian Prime Minister Keith Mitchell in the American city of Boston, to ask how they could participate in the development of Grenada. He explained that they should adopt the educational institutions, supply of equipment and technical development of Grenada to facilitate the work of the Grenadian. Thus, the Grenadian Americans introduced a school in Grenada and donate equipment and supplies annually.[3]

Notable people[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]