by Weldon Ryan
My Parents, four siblings and I came to the US from Trinidad and Tobago 50 years ago. I was only six. We settled in the Bronx on Faile Street near Simpson street with the IRT 2 &5. I have vivid memories of the Bronx. I also have held fond memories of Trinidad and my brief years spent in the Caribbean. One of my most vivid memories was Jouvert and people drenched in black as Jab Molassie scarring us as we watched the procession of revelers. That was it! For a while I had no knowledge as to the history of Carnival or the activities surrounding it. It was on occasion that magazines brought over from my Uncle Leslie I was able to get a glimpse of Trinidad Carnival. Of course, certain songs of Calypsonians popped through my head and out my lips. But it wasn't until moving to Brooklyn on Herkimer and Jordine Place that I got a good idea of what it is being from the Caribbean. My mother's best friend who was Guyanese: god bless her soul, lived around the corner. Boy did she throw good parties. It wasn't just the parties that I remember but also the feeling of belonging to a culture. Fortunately for my siblings and I my mothers friend had much older children and thus a more Caribbean vibe flowed. Unfortunately it was short lived, We moved back to the Bronx in my fifth year of public school. Thus, my longing for my Caribbean roots was placed in purgatory for a long while.
The pull to my cultures was strong. What I'm getting to is that the longing in my heart for a cultural awakening led me to this moment in my life. There is no turning back. I'm totally loving my Caribbean food, Caribbean music and most of all, my Caribbean people with their own take of the world, their beauty and their pride. I paint Carnival and the diasporas of Caribbean people, and I love it. See you on Eastern Parkway on Labor Day. You may be the next person I paint.