Trump Win Upsets Caribbean Community


Assemblyman Nick Perry shook his head in discontent when asked about Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential race.

Seated in his office in a burgundy chair in front of the American flag, the Jamaica-born legislator expressed deep concern about the nation’s welfare, especially for Caribbean-Americans, who have clustered in his East Flatbush district.

“They think he’s a change agent,” Perry, a Democrat, said of Trump. “Caribbean people around the world realize the change he’s talking about is the change we’ve been fighting to stop.”

Trump’s victory has left a deep disappointment in Brooklyn’s Caribbean immigrant community, the largest in the country, coupled with disbelief and distrust in the American political system.

Although exit polls show that Clinton won nearly 9 out of every 10 black votes, Perry lamented that some black youth backed Trump.

“My granddaughter sends tweets about politics to her peers on Twitter, and I can’t believe how some of these young minority African American youth were inspired to support Trump,” Perry said, referring to Roc Nation recording artist Justine Skye.

The disbelief of Jamaican and Haitians residents here reflected the low morale not only in the Brooklyn immigrant community, but in Caribbean communities across the globe.

Local Caribbean newspapers have carried reports of leaders and former leaders in the West Indies who expressed reservations about Trump’s victory. For example, the Caribbean Life newspaper reported that while former Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller congratulated  Trump on his victory, she quickly pointed out the concerns people have with him.

“Trump must recognize the influence the United States has on global affairs. In the weeks ahead we look forward to hearing and seeing how the Trump’s administration will take shape,” Miller added. “We have some concerns, since Jamaicans are a big part of the immigrant community in the U.S.” ht

In Trinidad, Vice Chairwoman Camille Robinson-Regis showed her disappointment with Clinton’s defeat.

“What I find truly amazing is that a country as liberal and advanced like the U.S. took 200 years to have a woman on the ballot of one of the major political parties,” Robinson-Regis said, echoing region-wide disappointment with the result. “My brother, who lives in the key swing state of Florida, had been campaigning for Hillary and canvassing for votes for her. I told him if Hillary didn’t win I’ll blame them squarely. My brother and cousins in New York, who are all registered Democrats, were among millions of early voters.”

Jermaine Richards, 32, a dollar van driver from Kingston, Jamaica, spoke in his native patois about how he despised Trump’s immigration policies, quickly pausing the conversation about Trump to pick up passengers along Flatbush Avenue between Avenues R and S. Richards stopped inside of Caribbean soul food hotspot, Island Express, to eat a plate of his favorite meal, oxtails with white rice and cabbage, just as night fell and his second shift of rounds was soon set to commence.

“My wife and daughter are back home” in Jamaica, Richards said, between bites at the table. “Everyday I roll up on the road back and forth from Kings Plaza Mall down to Flatlands just to provide an honest income to send back for them. Trump said he wants to build a wall for keep me little girl and her mother away from me. Man must reconsider cause Jamaicans compose of a bulk of the immigrant community here and we’re not satisfied with them plans.”

Jamaica native Stephanie Burke, 46, an early childhood home daycare provider, said she was outraged at America’s choice for commander-in-chief due to what she sees as a lack of leadership qualities and contradictory behaviors.

“Trump displays a racist attitude toward immigrants, prides himself on being a nationalist but entirely contradicts ideals intended to protect its citizens, that were put forth by the founding fathers of the United States,” Burke said.

Burke said an advisor at the U.S. Citizen Immigration Services office had helped her after she lost her birth certificate and passport in a home invasion. “At that point in my life I wanted to give up but the immigration service advisors helped restore my hope and walked me through the steps of the citizenship application process,” she said. But it was too late to vote. “I tried to get everything together in time for the election so I could vote, although neither candidate interested me,” she said. “But the voter registration deadlines derailed my efforts.”

During the campaign, Caribbean immigrants observed warily as Trump offered such policy solutions as construction of a wall along the Texas-Mexican border and mass deportations.

But there were also grievances in the Caribbean community against the Clintons, and Trump sought to take advantage of that.

Trump visited the Little Haiti neighborhood in Miami and praised Haitians for their contributions to the United States. Haitian-born columnist Joel Dreyfuss wrote in the Washington Post of how Trump maneuvered the resentment Haitians have toward the Clintons  to sway the vote.

The situation stems from grievances over President Bill Clinton’s handling of Haitian immigrants, which included jailing some in the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Registered Democrat Karrine Sylvan, 27, a dental assistant from Mill Basin, was aware of her Haitian relatives’ dismay toward the Clintons but decided against Trump due to what she saw as his misogynistic attitude. Sylvan was disappointed that the United States was not ready to become the 45th country to choose a female head of state.

“Trump’s derogatory remarks about sexually assaulting women really upset me. Clinton led a positive campaign that inspired young women around the world but at the end of the day she only lost because he is a man,” Sylvan said.

Photo: Karrine Sylvan shares the dismay within Brooklyn’s Caribbean community over the election of Donald Trump as president.

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