Jamaicans in the Diaspora had a new magazine to read in 2018, while a Jamaican teacher in Virginia won the prestigious Ruby & Esther Bunzi (REB) Award. The government named a new honorary consul to Atlanta, Georgia, and several Jamaicans won historic victories in South Florida elections. The Jamaican flag was raised over the borough hall in Brooklyn, New York. The United Kingdom decided to provide compensation for the Jamaicans known as the Windrush generation. An increasing number of Jamaicans in the Diaspora officially became citizens of the country. A Jamaican-raised poet became the Poet Laureate of Halifax, and a special Diaspora bond progressed in its development during 2018. The governor of New York pardoned Caribbean nationals, including Jamaicans, who were facing deportation.
JAMAICAN TEACHER IN VIRGINIA WINS PRESTIGIOUS EDUCATION AWARD
Karen Barber Olajuwon, a Jamaican who teaches at George Mason Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia, was selected from among 116 individuals nominated to win the Ruby & Esther Bunzi (REB) Award. Barber Olajuwon was among 16 winners, who received their awards at the Virginia Historical Society in November 2017. Originally from Porus in Manchester, Barber Olajuwon received a grant of US$12,000 to attend workshops in the United States and Barbados that promote poetry writing. Barber Olajuwon attended DeCarteret College and Alpha Academy and taught at Jack’s Hill Infant and All-Age School in St Andrew and Angels Primary in St Catherine before going to the US.
DR. ELAINE GRANT-BRYAN NAMED JAMAICA’S HONORARY CONSUL TO ATLANTA
Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith named Dr. Elaine Grant-Bryan to be Jamaica’s new Honorary Consul to the city of Atlanta. She started in her new post of October 1, 2018. As the Honorary Consul, Dr. Grant-Bryan will provide consular services to Jamaican citizens and to individuals who want to visit Jamaica. She will also promote the development of cultural, commercial, and social relationships between the island nation and the city of Atlanta. A former educator in Atlanta’s school system, Dr. Grant-Bryan works as a real estate entrepreneur. As an educator. She worked as a high school motivational speaker to empower students through mentorship programs. She was a Microsoft Education Partner and partnered with Microsoft to establish Microsoft-GECG STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) program for students.
JAMAICANS WIN HISTORIC VICTORIES IN LOCAL SOUTH FLORIDA ELECTIONS
Attorney Jackie Powell attained a historic victory in Broward County, Florida, becoming the first Jamaican-American female judge on the county bench, defeating her opponent Allison Gilman by more than 27,000 votes. She is the managing attorney and owner of Jackie Powell & Associates, LLC, and has over 14 years of experience in criminal and civil litigation. Richard Campbell, a Jamaican national who has lived in Lakeland City since 1994 and served as board member and president of his condo association, won one of the open seats for Commissioner of the city with 45 percent of the vote. Another Jamaica, Denise D. Grant, had a resounding win for the other open seat on the Commission, receiving 12,009 votes. She came to the US at age nine and lived in New Jersey before moving to Lauderhill in Florida. She has degrees in organizational leadership and international relations.
WINDRUSH GENERATION RECEIVES COMPENSATION
In October 2018, more than 500,000 people born in Commonwealth nations and living in the United Kingdom may receive compensation. This includes thousands of Jamaicans who will be impacted by a proposal designed to help redress the difficulties faced by the Windrush Generation concerning their legal status in the immigration system of the UK. The program, which was introduced as the Windrush Consultation Compensation Papers, will analyze, review responses, and continue discussions with key stakeholders before being published. The period of consolation will focus on determining the status of people who lived in the UK since arriving the country before 1973 when the law was changed.
JAMAICAN FLAG RAISED OVER BOROUGH HALL IN BROOKLYN
On August 6, 2018, Jamaicans joined Brooklyn, New York, borough president Eric L. Adams, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, and Jamaica’s Consul General Trudy Deans to raise the Jamaican flag over the hall in celebration of the island’s 56th anniversary of independence and marking its status as the first Caribbean country to secede from British rule. Speaking to a crowd that came to watch the flag raising, Adams stated that it was the power of the Diaspora community that “paved the way” for the Jamaican flag to fly above the oldest government building in Brooklyn. On August 5, the day before, Adams welcomed immigrants when he hosted a celebration of diversity and inclusion among the residents of New York at the fifth annual International Day of Friendship celebration in the borough.
MORE DIASPORA MEMBERS FORMALLY BECOME JAMAICAN CITIZENS
According to the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), there has been an increase in the number of Jamaican Diaspora members seeking to formally take up Jamaican citizenship. The agency has noted an overall increase in the number of foreigners acquiring citizen as well, with over 10,000 individuals seeking citizenship in the past decade. Carol Saunders-Hammond, the director of citizenship services at PICA, said that foreigners of Jamaican descent represent one of the largest categories of citizenship applicants. Citizenship by descent means that a person must have blood ties to Jamaicans to benefit from the process. Individuals may make a descent claim for Jamaican citizen regardless of how many generations there are between the seeker and the original Jamaican immigrants.
DEVELOPMENT OF SPECIAL DIASPORA BOND PROGRESSES
The Economic Growth Council (EGC) is advancing toward the creation of a special diaspora bond that will target Jamaicans who live in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It is part of the Council’s efforts to help the Jamaican government lobby for increased diaspora support for the nation’s agenda for growth, said Senator Aubyn Hill, EGC executive director. The concept has resonated across the diaspora. Hill said that he expects to go to market in about four months, subject to updates from and confirmation by the Diaspora Working Group of the EGC.
AFUA COOPER NAMED POET LAUREATE OF HALIFAX
Halifax has a new poet laureate. Dr. Afua Cooper, who grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, and came to Canada in 1980, is well known for her career in education, research, and advocacy and as the James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University. Dr. Cooper, who is a faculty member in the departments of History and Sociology & Social Anthropology, will serve as poet laureate for two years, acting as “an ambassador and advocate for literacy, literature and the arts” in the city. Dr. Cooper has called her duties “such a beautiful mission.” The official role of the Poet Laureate is to participate in poetry performances at civic events and to conduct readings at various council meetings, but the title holder has the discretion to decide what events they will attend.
NEW YORK GOVERNOR PARDONS JAMAICAN NATIONALS
New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo pardoned several Jamaicans as part of a group of Caribbean and other immigrants who had been convicted of minor offenses. Cuomo issued pardons for seven individuals – nationals from Jamaica, Barbados, and the Dominican Republic – who were facing deportation and additional consequences due to previous criminal convictions for minor offenses. This was the first time that Governor Cuomo used his pardon authority to protect individuals facing deportation. At a time when the current federal government is “waging a war on our immigrant communities,” Cuomo said, the state of New York is standing firm in its belief that the diversity of its residents is its greatest strength. “While President Trump engages in policies that rip children out of the arms of their mothers and tries to ramp up the deportation of New Yorkers to advance his political agenda of hate and division, we will protect our immigrant communities,” Cuomo stated.
QUARTERLY MAGAZINE TARGETS JAMAICAN DIASPORA
The quarterly publication BASHY Magazine is designed to cover Jamaica’s art, style, and culture from the point of view of Millennials. It seeks to amplify the common perceptions of Brand Jamaica, which are focused on promoting Western tourism, and return complexity to the depictions of the island. The founder of BASHY is Sharine Taylor, who is based in Toronto. She plans for the new publication to cover Jamaican culture and its Diaspora with content that comes exclusively from Jamaican writers and creative artists. According to Taylor, “Jamaica is a paradox because it embodies an unruliness, a kind of ‘do whatever’ attitude, but at the same time it holds conservative attitudes.” Taylor is a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto and wants to provide a place to speak about as many parts of the island’s culture as she can.
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