By Felicia J. Persaud
News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, Fri. June 9, 2023: June marks not only Pride Month but also National Caribbean American Heritage Month, National Immigrant Heritage Month, and Black Music Month. Sadly, you wouldn’t know it from the prevailing media coverage, advertising, and national promotion, which primarily revolve around “Pride Month.”
While I have nothing against celebrating Pride Month, it is disheartening to witness the lack of attention given to other significant observances.
On May 31st, the White House proclamation acknowledged LGBTQ+ Pride Month alongside National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, National Immigrant Heritage Month, Black Music Month, National Ocean Month, and National Homeownership Month. President Joe Biden himself encouraged all Americans to participate in celebrating these diverse “months.” So why do the others receive so little recognition compared to one?
But the same White House, on the same day, also declared June 2023 as: National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, National Immigrant Heritage Month, Black Music Month, National Ocean Month and National Homeownership Month.
President Joe Biden, in his own words, urged all Americans to join in celebration of the various “months.” So why is there little to nothing on the others but all about one?
Even the US State Department, in its own releases, recognized only Pride Month and National Immigrant Heritage Month. Nothing on National Caribbean American Heritage Month, which actually started 17 years ago, long before National Immigrant Heritage Month became a reality.
As a proud Caribbean immigrant, I remain “gob smacked” to use the British term. It’s most aggravating that 17 years in, we are still largely ignored and dismissed. Not even Madame Vice President, Kamala Harris, who President Biden snuck into his CAHM proclamation as an “extraordinary” leader of “Caribbean heritage” serving in the administration, bothered to even tweet Happy CAHM. However, her Twitter header changed to say: “Happy Pride Month.”
The President was also thrilled to also point out Caribbean born staffers like Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, in this year’s CAHM proclamation as well as Puerto Rican heritage Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. Not one has bothered to even tweet “Happy Caribbean American Heritage Month” or “Happy Immigrant Heritage Month.”
Jean-Pierre, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, however, also tweeted out only a Pride greeting on June 1st. Mayorkas has so far not only not acknowledged CAHM, but neither has he acknowledged National Immigrant Heritage Month as head of the Homeland Security Department. Instead, on June 2nd, he posted multiple images of him raising “the Pride Progress flag” at the DHS “headquarters to recognize the start of #PrideMonth.”
“Today, we continue this tradition – a symbol of our commitment to stand with our LGBTQ+ colleagues and the community with pride,” he tweeted, adding further: “There is work to be done to address inequities but let us remember our progress towards creating a safer, more inclusive nation for all. #Pride2023.”
Cardona also had nothing to say about Immigrant Heritage Month or CAHM. Instead, on June 1st, he saluted Pride Month only, tweeting: “Happy #PrideMonth! Right now, the moment demands that we do all we can to support the LGBTQI+ community, particularly for our young people. I will do all I can to ensure every student can be their authentic selves, bullying will never be tolerated in our classrooms.”
On May 31st, he was, however, happy to acknowledge “#JewishAmericanHeritageMonth.”
Why is this so while immigrants and Caribbean Americans are ignored, even though there are of course many Caribbean Americans and immigrants who are also part of the LGBTQ+ communities?
The answer I believe lies in the fact that the LGBTQ+ and Jewish American communities are the most vocal. When they speak, they speak as one voice and politicians are afraid to make waves for fear of upsetting both the financial contributions and their votes.
Immigrants and Caribbean Americans, on the other hand, form a weaker bloc and can be easily taken for granted. Just look at how immigration reform keeps being promised but postponed indefinitely.
The reality is the squeakiest wheel gets the oil and the celebration of diversity in America is really all about those who yell the loudest and speak with one voice through donations and at the ballot box. It’s a lesson immigrants and Caribbean Americans need to learn if they are to be taken seriously in America.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News. She can be reached at fe*****@ca*****.com