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NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 06: A woman holds up the flag of Jamaica during the West Indian American Day Parade on September 6, 2010 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

The West Indian American Day Parade is one of the biggest in the city.

West Indians, she said, were willing to work hard and African Americans were lazy; more than anything, she couldn’t stand being mistaken for a black American.

By the second generation many black immigrants find they have become black Americans.

The clipped cadences and other linguistic markers that once identified their parents as foreign have faded. The lack of taboo against intermarriage widens kinship beyond a single, home island identity.

In the book, a Trinidadian student is one of only three black women at an all-girls college and she gradually awakens to the reality of American race relations and her place in the struggle.

We also watched several episodes of the PBS documentary "Eyes on the Prize" with its unflinching images of Southern terror and racism against African Americans. Martin Luther King and most of Rosa Parks, not many knew the West Indian backgrounds of civil-rights era activists like Stokely Carmichael and Malcom X.

The proudest immigrant identity can acknowledge the need for change in an American system that is racially biased—if not against you today, then against your children tomorrow.

Last modified 04-Aug-2017 06:36