Afro-Caribbean

Total population

c. 30 million

Regions with significant populations

 Haiti8.9 million
 United States2.88 million
 Cuba1.0 million
 Dominican Republic1.7 million
 Jamaica2.5 million
 United Kingdom601,647
 Trinidad and Tobago452,536
 Guadeloupe403,750
 CAN383,533
 Bahamas372,000
 Puerto Rico342,000
 Martinique330,000
 Guyana290,000
 Barbados253,771
 Suriname202,500
 Saint Lucia173,765
 Curaçao148,000
 French Guiana131,676
 U.S. Virgin Islands106,405
 Grenada101,309
 Belize93,394
 Antigua and Barbuda82,041
 Dominica72,660
 Saint Kitts and Nevis38,827

Languages

English
English Creole
Caribbean
Jamaican, Trinidadian, Tobagonian, Bahamian, Guyanese, Bajan, Grenadian, Belizean, Saint Kitts, Vincentian, Surinamese
 
French
French Creole
Haitian, Antillean
 
Spanish
Spanish Creole
Caribbean Spanish
 
Portuguese
Portuguese Creole
Papiamento
 
Dutch
 
Yoruba
 

Religion

Predominantly:
  • Christianity
Minority:
  • Islam
  • Bahá’í
  • Judaism
  • Traditional African religion
  • Afro-American religion
  • Obeah
  • Rastafarianism
  • Santería
  • Orisha
  • Trinidad Orisha
  • Yoruba
  • Vodou
  • others

Related ethnic groups

Afro-Latin Americans, Liberian, Americo-Liberian, African-American

Afro-Caribbean is the shortened ethnicity term of African-Caribbean, which refers to the ethnicity and cultural heritage of Caribbean people whose ancestors were taken from Africa via the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the Caribbean Islands between the 15th and 19th centuries to work primarily on various sugar plantations and in domestic households. Other names for the ethnic group include Black Caribbean, Afro-West Indian, Black West Indian, or Afro-Antillean. The term was not used by West Indians themselves but was first coined by Americans in the late 1960s.

People of Afro-Caribbean descent today mainly have between 85–95% African ancestry with their remaining DNA being of non-African ancestry, such as European, South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Amerindian descent, as there has been extensive intermarriage and unions among the peoples over the centuries. Although most Afro-Caribbean people today live in French-, English-, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations and territories, there are also significant diaspora populations throughout the Western world—especially in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands. Both the home and diaspora populations have produced a number of individuals who have had a notable influence on modern Western, Caribbean, and African societies; they include political activists such as Marcus Garvey and C. L. R. James; writers and theorists such as Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon; US military leader and statesman Colin Powell; and musicians Bob Marley and Rihanna.

History

16th–18th centuries

During the post-Columbian era, the archipelagos and islands of the Caribbean were the first sites of African diaspora dispersal in the western Atlantic. Specifically, in 1492, Pedro Alonso Niño, an African-Spanish seafarer, was recorded as piloting one of Columbus’ ships. He returned in 1499, but did not settle. In the early 16th century, more Africans began to enter the population of the Spanish Caribbean colonies, sometimes arriving as free men of mixed ancestry or as indentured servants, but increasingly as enslaved workers and servants. This increasing demand for African labour in the Caribbean was in part the result of massive depopulation of the native Taino and other indigenous peoples caused by the new infectious diseases, harsh conditions, and warfare brought by European colonists. By the mid-16th century, the slave trade from West Africa to the Caribbean was so profitable that Francis Drake and John Hawkins were prepared to engage in piracy as well as break Spanish colonial laws, in order to forcibly transport approximately 1500 enslaved people from Sierra Leone to San Domingo (modern-day Haiti and Dominican Republic).

During the 17th and 18th centuries, European colonial development in the Caribbean became increasingly reliant on plantation slavery to cultivate and process the lucrative commodity crop of sugarcane. On many islands shortly before the end of the 18th century, the enslaved Afro-Caribbeans greatly outnumbered their European masters. In addition, there developed a class of free people of color, especially in the French islands, where persons of mixed race were given certain rights. On Saint-Domingue, free people of colour and slaves rebelled against harsh conditions, and constant inter-imperial warfare. Inspired by French revolutionary sentiments that at one point freed the slaves, Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean Jacques Dessalines led the Haitian Revolution that gained the independence of Haiti in 1804, the first Afro-Caribbean republic in the Western Hemisphere.

19th–20th centuries

In 1804, Haiti, with its overwhelmingly African population and leadership, became the second nation in the Americas to win independence from a European state. During the 19th century, continuous waves of rebellion, such as the Baptist War, led by Sam Sharpe in Jamaica, created the conditions for the incremental abolition of slavery in the region by various colonial powers. Great Britain abolished slavery in its holdings in 1834. Cuba was the last island to be emancipated, when Spain abolished slavery in its colonies.

During the 20th century, Afro-Caribbean people, who were a majority in many Caribbean societies, began to assert their cultural, economic, and political rights with more vigour on the world stage. Marcus Garvey was among many influential immigrants to the United States from Jamaica, expanding his UNIA movement in New York City and the U.S. Afro-Caribbeans were influential in the Harlem Renaissance as artists and writers. Aimé Césaire developed a négritude movement.

In the 1960s, the West Indian territories were given their political independence from British colonial rule. They were pre-eminent in creating new cultural forms such as reggae music, calypso and Rastafarianism within the Caribbean. Beyond the region, a developing Afro-Caribbean diaspora in the United States, including such figures as Stokely Carmichael and DJ Kool Herc, was influential in the development of the Black Power movement of the 1960s and the hip-hop movement of the 1980s. African-Caribbean individuals also contributed to cultural developments in Europe, as evidenced by influential theorists such as Frantz Fanon and Stuart Hall.

Notable people

Politics

  • Sir Grantley Adams – Barbados, politician and lawyer; the first and only Prime Minister of the West Indies Federation (1958–1962)
  • Jean-Bertrand Aristide – politician, priest and head of state, Haiti
  • Dean Barrow – head of government, Belize
  • Maurice Bishop – Grenada, revolutionary leader
  • Paul Bogle – Jamaica, political activist
  • Ertha Pascal Trouillot – Haiti, first Black female president in the world, lawyer
  • Juan Almeida Bosque – Cuban revolutionary and politician
  • Dutty Boukman – Haitian freedom fighter
  • Forbes Burnham – Guyana, head of government
  • Bussa – Barbados, freedom fighter
  • Stokely Carmichael – Trinidad-born, civil rights activist and leader in the US
  • Mary Eugenia Charles – Dominican head of government
  • Perry Christie – Bahamian, politician and lawyer
  • Henri Christophe – Haiti, revolutionary, general and head of state
  • John Compton – Saint Lucia, politician and lawyer
  • Paris Dennard-Grenada, former CNN politicial commentator
  • Jean-Jacques Dessalines – Haiti (est. 1804), revolutionary, general and first head of state of independent Haiti
  • Papa Doc Duvalier – dictator of Haiti, 20th century
  • Marcus Garvey – Jamaica, politician and writer, founder of UNIA and active in US politics from 1916–1927
  • Philip Goldson – Belize, politician
  • Sam Hinds – Guyana, head of government
  • Hubert Ingraham – Bahamian, politician and lawyer
  • Toussaint L’Ouverture – Saint-Domingue, revolutionary, general and governor
  • Joseph Robert Love – Bahamian-born, medical doctor; Jamaican politician and political activist who influenced Marcus Garvey
  • Antonio Maceo Grajales – Cuban revolutionary and general
  • Michael Manley – Jamaica, politician
  • Jon Miller-Montserrat,Conservative Review,BlazeTV Host
  • Nanny of the Maroons – Jamaica, freedom fighter
  • Lynden Pindling – Bahamian politician, and first Prime minister of the Bahamas
  • Samuel Jackman Prescod – Barbados, first elected Afro-Caribbean politician in the House of Assembly
  • Sam Sharpe – Jamaica, freedom fighter
  • Solitude – Guadeloupe, freedom fighter
  • Eric Eustace Williams – Trinidad and Tobago politician, writer and head of government

Science and philosophy

  • Frantz Fanon – Martinique, writer, psychiatrist and freedom fighter
  • Hubert Harrison – St. Croix, writer, orator, educator, critic, and race and class conscious political activist based in Harlem, New York
  • Stuart Hall – Jamaican philosopher
  • C. L. R. James – Trinidad and Tobago, activist and writer
  • W. Arthur Lewis – Saint Lucia, economist and Nobel Prize recipient
  • Pedro Alonso Niño – Afro-Spanish explorer
  • Arlie Petters – Belizean mathematician
  • Walter Rodney – Guyanese activist and writer
  • Mary Seacole – Jamaican nurse and hospital director

Arts, sports and culture

  • Carlos Acosta – Cuba, ballet dancer
  • Deandre Ayton – Bahamas, #1 Overall Pick of the 2018 NBA Draft and player for the Phoenix Suns
  • Ozzie Albies – Curaçao, MLB player for the Atlanta Braves
  • John Barnes – Jamaican-born English footballer
  • Beenie Man – Jamaica, artist and musician
  • Usain Bolt – Jamaica, Olympics Gold Medalist and World’s Fastest Man.
  • Frank Bowling – Guyana, painter
  • Aimé Césaire – Martinique, fiction writer
  • Kingsley Coman – Guadloupe, football player
  • Celia Cruz – Cuba, singer
  • Tim Duncan – St. Croix (Anguilla parentage), Basketball player
  • Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – Jamaica, athlete
  • Eddy Grant – Guyana, singer and musician
  • Thierry Henry – Guadeloupe, football player, best French scorer
  • Buddy Hield – Bahamas, NBA player for the Sacramento Kings
  • C. L. R. James – Trinidad, historian, essayist and journalist
  • Wyclef Jean – Haitian singer, composer and activist
  • Kenley Jansen – Curaçao, MLB player for the Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Brian Lara – Trinidad, cricketer
  • Earl Lovelace – Trinidad, novelist and writer
  • Bob Marley – Jamaica, singer and musician
  • Anthony Martial – Guadeloupe, French football player
  • The Mighty Sparrow – Grenadian/Trinidadian singer and composer
  • Shaunae Miller – Bahamian, 400m and 200m runner and Olympic Gold Medalist
  • Nicki Minaj – Trinidad, rapper and singer
  • Sean Paul – Jamaica, dancehall artist
  • Sidney Poitier – Bahamas, First black Academy Award-winning actor in Hollywood/US
  • Cardi B – Trinidadian/Dominican, rapper and singer
  • Sir Vivian Richards – Antigua, cricketer
  • Rihanna – Barbados, singer
  • Teddy Riner – Guadeloupe, Judoka
  • Chevalier de Saint-Georges – Guadeloupe, composer
  • Darren Sammy – Saint Lucia, cricketer
  • Kimbo Slice – Bahamian boxer and MMA fighter
  • Sir Garfield Sobers – Barbados, cricketer
  • Karl-Anthony Towns – Dominican republic, #1 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, NBA player for the Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Bebo Valdés – Cuban musician
  • Derek Walcott – Saint Lucia, poet, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature

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