Jamaican-American Trailblazers Get Their Due

Markeshia Ricks Photo Two Jamaican-Americans were recognized Saturday night for their trailblazing career accomplishments in their adopted home here in the United States. And two Americans became honorary Jamaicans .

That all happened during the seventh Jamaican American Connection (JAC) of Greater New Haven Trailblazer Scholarship banquet held at Zandri’s Stillwood Inn.

Jamaicans who call Connecticut and other parts of the Northeast their home gathered in their best dress to celebrate their heritage and strengthen their connections with their American friends while raising money for scholarships.

B.B. King Blues Club & Grill New York Executive Chef Wenford P. Simpson, who has cooked for the likes of Phylicia Rashad, Taye Diggs, and Hillary Clinton, was the evening’s keynote speaker. He urged attendees to support each other’s dreams and to continue to give back to the children of Jamaica, some of whom are growing up poor as he did and in need of an opportunity. He also vowed to support JAC in providing scholarships for Jamaican students.

JAC was founded in the summer of 2010 by Jamaicans of the Greater New Haven region. The organization provides opportunities to learn about the Jamaican diaspora in particular and the Caribbean diaspora in general through events such as the annual Caribbean American Heritage Festival, according to President Karaine Holness. It also promotes businesses owned by fellow West Indians like Baldwin Shields, whose Johnny’s Cakes, catered the banquet’s dessert menu, which featured an assortment of cheesecakes kissed with a taste of Jamaica.

The non-profit, though small, last year hosted roundtable discussions with Jamaica Minister of Education Ruel Reid and New Haven Public Schools educators and participated in Freddy Fixer Parade. Holness encouraged attendees to join JAC and to continue to support one another and maintain their connection. The organization also has partnered with the Nathan Ebanks Foundation, a nongovernmental organization based in Jamaica, to support that organization’s efforts at providing scholarships.

“We must be there to support one another,” she said. “We must celebrate each other’s accomplishments and provide encouragement in times of disappointment. We must impart wisdom to our children, sharing with them the positive cultural values and traditions of our West Indian history and heritage. We must share our knowledge and guidance with one another in an effort to foster individual and collective success.

“We must give back to communities at the local and international level in an effort to uplift one another,” Holness added. “JAC is committed to doing just that.”

Karaine Holness Two Jamaicans, gastroenterologist Dr. Taneisha Grant, and Caribbean music promoter, Michael “Bojangles” Howell, were recognized for their accomplishments in their respective professions.

Grant, a native of Portland, Jamaica, was inspired by her pediatrician to become a doctor. Her mother was the trailblazer who sacrificed so that she could reach her dreams. Howell’s passion for music, particularly reggae and dancehall that inspired him to bring the music to Southern Connecticut, particularly at venues like Toad’s Place.

The biggest surprise of the evening came for two Americans who can now call themselves honorary Jamaicans: Inner City News Editor-in-Chief Babz Rawls Ivy and Pamela Washington, a licensed master social worker in child welfare and an adjunct faculty advisor and instructor at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. Washington was actually serving as the evening’s mistress of ceremonies. Both women were surprised when President Holness called their names to receive recognition as Jamaican “cultural ambassadors.”

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 18, 2017  9:18am

Does this Title of honorary Jamaicans fall under the Jamaican honours system which is the fifth of the six orders in the Jamaican honours system?I know about this system because me and my peeps are Caribbean.In fact some of my peeps are Arawak and Jamaican Maroons .The only one who can make a person a honorary Jamaican is the Governor-General upon the advice of the Prime Minister of Jamaica.

posted by: JamaicanGal on September 18, 2017  11:03am

Yo kill joy, low di people dem! There is nothing that says that this was an official award presented by or from the government of Jamaica or that the award comes with any special privilege. The recognition of “honorary Jamaican” is an award presented by the president to non-members and non-natives who embrace, support and promote Jamaican culture. By the way, your claim of being Arawak and maroon does not make you more Jamaican or a better authority of Jamaican culture and heritage than any of the other millions of Jamaicans. The organization can present any award that they chose to and to whom so long as they are not misrepresenting it’s purpose and origins. It does not have to be dictated by the Jamaican government or any official. I am disappointed that you would chose to put a damper on what was otherwise a wonderful event with your negativity.

posted by: newhavenlives on September 18, 2017  11:20am

Wonderful event! Friends, pay 3/5ths no mind. He is perennially negative. In this case, him jussa form fool fi catch wise.

As our adopted Jamaican sister said, Walk Good!

posted by: Babz Rawls Ivy on September 18, 2017  11:28am

As I have said The JAC Trailblazer Scholarship is my favorite event every year!  And this year I was really surprised to get the President’s award! “Jamaican Cultural Ambassador! Ha hahaha! I am truly am an “honorary Jamaican”! The pressure to learn patois is on!

The richness of this community is felt with each Jamaican connection I make and share. I am honored and delighted to be so embraced by this Greater New Haven community.

Nice coverage Markeshia! The photos are beautiful!

posted by: Karaine on September 18, 2017  12:43pm

@3/5s I speak on behalf of the members of the Jamaican American Connection when I say we STAND behind OUR decision to recognize Pamela and Babz as OUR Jamaican Cultural Ambassadors.
Considering your linkage to the Arawaks and the Maroons I look forward to YOUR full participation in our future events.
~Walk Good!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 18, 2017  2:51pm

posted by: JamaicanGal on September 18, 2017 11:03am

Yo kill joy, low di people dem! There is nothing that says that this was an official award presented by or from the government of Jamaica or that the award comes with any special privilege. The recognition of “honorary Jamaican” is an award presented by the president to non-members and non-natives who embrace, support and promote Jamaican culture. By the way, your claim of being Arawak and maroon does not make you more Jamaican or a better authority of Jamaican culture and heritage than any of the other millions of Jamaicans.

You need to read what I wrote.I said Does this Title of honorary Jamaicans fall under the Jamaican honours system which is the fifth of the six orders in the Jamaican honours system?So if you would have read this you would see I was asking a question.You also said that By the way, your claim of being Arawak and maroon does not make you more Jamaican or a better authority of Jamaican culture and heritage than any of the other millions of Jamaicans.Again you did not read what I wrote.I said I know about this system because me and my peeps are Caribbean.In fact some of my peeps are Arawak and Jamaican Maroons.Notice I said some of my some of my peeps are Arawak and Jamaican Maroons.I never said I was Arawak and Jamaican Maroon.

Now you said this.The organization can present any award that they chose to and to whom so long as they are not misrepresenting it’s purpose and origins. It does not have to be dictated by the Jamaican government or any official. I am disappointed that you would chose to put a damper on what was otherwise a wonderful event with your negativity.

So now that I have read your what you have wrote it answer the question that I ask which was Does this Title of honorary Jamaicans fall under the Jamaican honours system which is the fifth of the six orders in the Jamaican honours system? So I ask How is what I ask negativity

Part One.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 18, 2017  3:39pm

posted by: newhavenlives on September 18, 2017 11:20am

Wonderful event! Friends, pay 3/5ths no mind. He is perennially negative. In this case, him jussa form fool fi catch wise.

As our adopted Jamaican sister said, Walk Good!

And as Bob Marley said

They say roots Natty roots Dread Binghi dread I and I are the roots Some are wolf In sheep’s clothing Whoa, ... Bob Marley .

https://youtu.be/ZROcsZWjbGk

This is real Roots.Girl.

Sister Carol “Call Me Sister Carol”

https://youtu.be/kogjfgphlUk

posted by: Karaine on September 18, 2017 12:43pm

@3/5s I speak on behalf of the members of the Jamaican American Connection when I say we STAND behind OUR decision to recognize Pamela and Babz as OUR Jamaican Cultural Ambassadors.
Considering your linkage to the Arawaks and the Maroons I look forward to YOUR full participation in our future events.
~Walk Good!

Thank. In fact I have the List right Now for the next honorary Jamaicans.

1.Barbara Fair who fights for get rid of Prison–industrial complex. Fights to get rid of -Police brutality

2. John Lugo who fight for immigrant rights and fair wages for Immigrants.

3. Nichole Jefferson who was accused her of engaging in “intimidation, attempted bribery and corruption with contractors doing business with the city of New Haven. It was found that this case had all the markings of a witch hunt..

So I would be glad to work with you to make all the above people honorary Jamaicans for there work..

posted by: JamaicanGal on September 18, 2017  4:10pm

@3/5’s One can only conclude from your comments below that your gripe is with the awardees and not the actual award. I am not a member of the organization so I don’t know if any of the very accomplished individuals that you named below are non-natives, with ties to the organization or if they have embraced and promoted Jamaican culture as required. Based on the short bio that you provided, I would think that those individuals would be more suited for the more formal recognition which is that of “Trailblazer” and which by the way is the title and focus of the program. It’s the “Trailblazer Banquet” not Honorary Jamaican Banquet. I answered your question by the way…Here is a cut and paste, “There is nothing that says that this was an official award presented by or from the government of Jamaica or that the award comes with any special privilege.”

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 18, 2017  4:54pm

posted by: JamaicanGal on September 18, 2017 4:10pm

@3/5’s One can only conclude from your comments below that your gripe is with the awardees and not the actual award. I am not a member of the organization so I don’t know if any of the very accomplished individuals that you named below are non-natives, with ties to the organization or if they have embraced and promoted Jamaican culture as required.

How do you know they have not?Do you know them? Do you know there work?Tell me this .What is Jamaican culture. I was told Jamaican culture is a diverse blend of customs and traditions shaped by the country’s long history of colonialism, slavery and displacement. I was told The earliest known natives of the island were the Taino people, who were displaced by the Spanish and British, who brought slaves from Africa. Later, immigrants from around the world came to Jamaica as well.I was also told the motto of Jamaica is “Out of Many, One People.I was told this by my wife aunt in who lives in the blue mountains.She is 103 yrs old.Saw her last month.Her aunt took me to a place call German Town I saw German Jamaicans I saw Chinese Jamaicans and saw Indo-Jamaicans.And I did talk to them.

One can only conclude from your comments below that your gripe is with the awardees and not the actual award.

I do not have a gripe gripe is with the awardees.Never said anything about them.Do not know them.

I leave you with this.

Burning Spear - One People(Mek We Dweet)

https://youtu.be/6uw_NtE-49w

posted by: scarab on September 19, 2017  11:56am

Congrats to all…did not think threefifths was being negative…did not detect a gripe…I agree with 3/5ths that he was merely asking how official it was….also it seemed clear that JAC was granting an “unoffcial honorary” award as a lighthearted, gracious gesture from JAC only ...appreciate info about the Awarak, Maroon connection…that is a rich history to be proud of and keep protected…

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 19, 2017  5:08pm

posted by: scarab on September 19, 2017 11:56am

Congrats to all…did not think threefifths was being negative…did not detect a gripe…I agree with 3/5ths that he was merely asking how official it was….also it seemed clear that JAC was granting an “unoffcial honorary” award as a lighthearted, gracious gesture from JAC only ...appreciate info about the Awarak, Maroon connection…that is a rich history to be proud of and keep protected…

You are correct. In fact let me say this. The people of Jamaican better hope that they can hold on to Jamaican Culture. China is now taking over Jamaican.

Jamaica selling out its paradise
Kenroy Williams, also known as “Booms,” is “Guardian of the Reptiles” in Hellshire, located near the Goat Islands in Jamaica. The region is centered in the Portland Bight Protected Area, an area of ocean and land set apart in 1999 to protect its rich biodiversity of birds, reptiles, plants, trees and marine life.
But now, the Jamaican government is preparing to sell the Goat Islands to the China Harbour Engineering Co. to build a megafreighter seaport and industrial park. China Harbour is part of a conglomerate blacklisted by the World Bank under its Fraud and Corruption Sanctioning Policy.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/02/opinion/townsend-jamaica-iguana/index.html

Bunting insists Chinese ‘taking over’ Jamaica
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) spokesman on national security, Peter Bunting, is insisting that there is “a form of economic colonialism by Chinese businesses operating in Jamaica”.

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Bunting_insists_Chinese_taking_over_Jamaica?profile=1228

posted by: scarab on September 19, 2017  7:58pm

Thank you again 3/5ths. As you know, this can only happen when puppet regimes exist. Not new at all…could say more but this is certainly not the forum to do so…continue to preserve the true history…respect