However, my experience as an immigrant teenage girl from Queens, NY, was very different from life portrayed in popular media. Instead, I rolled with a crew of girls who merged mainstream American culture with the urban immigrant lifestyle in which we were embedded. Our style and perspectives were unique: Our eyes were lined in Maybelline and our lips were shades of Revlon red—dark maroon for some and brick-colored for others. We smelled of sweet dollar-store perfumes and wore nail polish that we painted ourselves while watching MTV. We had nose rings and arms of bangles and unsmiling faces. We were a different kind of teenage fashionista:
I remember the first time a girl named Naomi showed off her brass knuckles. Shortly after that I tried to buy brass knuckles at a grimy store where Sutphin Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue met.
That intersection was one of several immigrant hubs where tired service workers caught buses, shopped for fresh fish and vegetables, and others snatched necklaces to pawn at one of the many resell shops along the avenue.
His nails were dirty and he smelled of cigarettes. He was an immigrant like me but from a different place. There were plenty of common themes among the girls in the crew: With one another, we took turns expressing our self-determination and bitching about restrictions on our liberty.
Our lives were no In fact, most of us had barely ever left New York since arriving from the places where we had been born.
Some had never left Queens. The rest of us nodded in agreement while burning cigarettes between our fingers. Other realities transcended our differences too, like our minority status and the way that we seemed to be different from Asian girls and African American girls and Hispanic girls and Caucasian girls, and the ways that we were sometimes marginalized because of it.
Like any group, there were also differences and inequities among us. Most of us held beliefs about which one of our countries was better and therefore which type of girl was better than the rest. Sometimes we repeated the stereotypes we heard about girls from Trinidad and Guyana.
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When that happened the confrontations were swift and the arguments were well-defended before they were dismissed. Some of the crew lived in decent houses owned by their parents and some lived in dingy apartments that only illegal immigrants could afford. I shared a bunk bed with my brother and sister while my parents slept on a couch in the living room. I never told anyone that my mother and father had spent a day and night cleaning that apartment and killing dozens of mice while my siblings and I stayed with my aunt and uncle a few blocks away.
We were not model minority members. Sometimes we jumped turnstiles to get onto the subway and used our school transit cards to get onto the Q bus, far, far away from school and the places we knew.
We found ourselves hanging out in Jamaica, Brooklyn and once or twice, we took the train to Jackson Heights where plenty of East Indians lived, exchanging smiles with each other as passengers boarded for school and work and we made our way to the next adventure. We followed the pages on our beepers with return calls on payphones that led us to plenty of other teenagers like ourselves. Sometimes we found each other in nicely decorated living rooms with pictures of awkward-looking Indian children on the wall or on side tables.
Our parents, while protective, were the kinds of parents who exercised the right to slap or use a belt when angry—sometimes in the presence of others. I once witnessed one of my homegirls get slapped in the face; the way she grabbed at her cheek after it happened made me feel awful. This organization was based on Black Nationalism that promoted the economic development of blacks.
Queens Girls: Indo-Caribbean Life in ’90s New York
Winston James shows that many West Indians wanted UNIA to move beyond economic emphasis and to overtly oppose racism that they faced on a daily basis as black immigrants. Radical West Indians, like Hubert Harrison a Virgin Islander , wanted to do away with what they believed to be a racist capitalist society. These politically radical West Indian immigrants vied for socialism.
The African Blood Brothers was founded by Caribbeans in and was an organization that combined socialism and Black Nationalism. However, this organization never gained a substantial following.West Indian Dating Shows
Evidence shows that most West Indians who were able to attain citizenship voted for the Democratic Party. In New York, as black Caribbean immigrants began to grow in size, a small number ran for political offices.
During the s and the Depression era , Caribbean immigration trailed off and fewer black immigrants traveled to New York City because of the scarcity of employment opportunities. Jamaicans are the largest group of American immigrants from the English-speaking Caribbean. However, it is difficult to verify the exact number of Jamaican Americans in this country. The census placed the total number of documented Jamaican Americans at ,, but the high Jamaican illegal alien phenomenon and the Jamaican attitude toward census response may increase that number to , to 1,, Jamaicans living in the United States.
Government statistics report that , Jamaicans live in New York, but the number is closer to , Large numbers of Jamaicans are present in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. New York City has the largest concentration of Haitians in the United States as well as the oldest established Haitian communities in the country.
However, community leaders and directors of community centers, who come in constant contact with the illegal population, strongly believe that the actual number is closer to , This number includes the non-immigrant temporary visitors, students, temporary workers, and trainees and undocumented entrants, as well as the legal population who does not bother to fill out the census forms for a variety of reasons.
Moreover, the New York City Haitian population represents a very heterogeneous group, reflecting the various strata of Haitian society. Members of the middle class started migrating during the U. Significant waves followed exponentially during the Duvalier era that started in and ended in with the ousting of Baby Doc. To date, cohorts of Haitians continue to come to New York, many being sent for by relatives already established in the city. Haitians reside in all the boroughs.
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Flatbush, Brooklyn has the highest concentration of Haitians in the city. Immigration records of Dominicans in the United States date from the late 19th century and New York City has had a Dominican community since the s. From the s onward, after the fall of the Rafael Trujillo military regime, large waves of migration have thoroughly transnationalized the Dominican Republic, metaphorically blurring its frontier with the United States.
In New York City's Dominican population decreased for the first time since the s, dropping by 1. They are the city's fifth-largest national group behind Irish, Italian, German and Puerto Rican and, in , it was estimated that they compromised Areas with high a concentration of Dominicans are in Washington Heights , Corona , and certain areas in the Bronx.
Eastern portions of the Washington Heights neighborhood and many western neighborhoods in the Bronx have some of the highest concentrations of Dominicans in the country.
The Guardian described American Airlines Flight , prior to its accident flight in , as having "cult status" in Washington Heights. Puerto Ricans , due to the forced change of the citizenship status of the island's residents, can technically be said to have come to the City first as immigrants and subsequently as migrants.
The largest wave of migration came in the s, in what became known as "The Great Migration"; as a result, more than a million Puerto Ricans once called New York City home.
Presently the Puerto Rican population is around , Puerto Ricans have historically lived in neighborhoods such as the Lower East Side also known in the community as Loisaida , Spanish Harlem and Williamsburg, Brooklyn since the s. There are large Puerto Rican populations throughout the 5 boroughs, with the Bronx having the largest.