EDITORIAL: Let 2016 be the year of leadership

Once again another year closes, inspiring time for reflection. In review, 2015 may have been full of negativity, including various gun related tragedies, deplorable acts of racism, failed immigration reform, and escalating fear of terrorism here and abroad.

Despite these setbacks, our Caribbean-American community has had a positive year. The community, thankfully, had no reason to cower from threats made directly to it. On the contrary, throughout 2015 the community has experienced a relatively peaceful year, while making its presence felt in South Florida. Our youth continue to excel both scholastically and athletically. More people have found employment, and have been able cast off their economic dross. Many have recovered some of their homes’ values after the disastrous house market crash and depleted the equity of many families. And many others were able to obtained affordable health insurance for their families. Thankfully, with a very few exceptions, members of the Caribbean-American community were not included in the negative headlines of local or national news.

But 2015 was only another milestone on the journey Caribbean migrants embarked on when they decided to leave their respective countries. There’s still so much for the community to accomplish, most of all the ability to coalesce as a united community.

Should the English-speaking Caribbean-American community be criticized for being a community in name only, it would be dishonest to treat this criticism as unwarranted. It is amazing to those outside the community, and even those within it, that although there are thousands of migrants from the Caribbean region living in South Florida there’s still so much division. Of course, this is not surprising as the community consists of migrants from some 15 countries. However, while these immigrants tend to cling to their unique cultures, and will likely continue doing so, there’s an opportunity here in South Florida. For our community to celebrate and use our shared experiences to build a stronger, more resilient future for our families, both culturally and civically.

Some people may have grown tired of references to the Hispanic-American community as a united, viable community, but they also provide the best model for our immigrant community. The Hispanic community is also comprised of people from several different nations and cultures, but over the years they have successfully collaborated to become one of the strongest communities in America, with real cultural and political clout. They have developed a community blueprint that is not impossible for us to emulate. Surely, the day should not be too far off when the Caribbean-American business, political, cultural, working and residential communities are spoken of with the same high regard and prominence. However, there is still need for quality leadership to emerge from within the Caribbean-American community to accomplish this gigantic feat.

Herein lies our community’s New Year’s resolution for 2016. The community has been waiting a long time for this leaders to emerge who can unify us and rally use to a central focus. It’s hoped 2016 will be the year of Caribbean-American leaders. There certainly are sufficient talented, intelligent, experienced Caribbean migrants, young and old, from which such a leader or leaders can emerge.

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