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Is The White House Ignoring Caribbean Heritage Month?

CaribWorldNews, WASHINGTON, D.C., Tues. June 2, 2009: President George Bush in 2006 signed Caribbean Heritage Month into law and each June since, it was marked at the White House. This June, however, the Barack Obama administration has yet to tell CaribWorldNews of its plans to honor Caribbean Americans this month.

The many Caribbean nationals who voted for Obama, donated or worked on his campaign may be disappointed to know that CWNN is still awaiting a response from the White House on CAHM plans, if any at all.

On May 15th, when asked, the White House said it was `too early` to say. On June 1st, the official start of CAHM, several calls and a faxed note sent as per request to the White House failed to yield any response. Instead, CWNN was shuffled from the press office to the Presidential Messaging office after several minutes on hold. It was then suggested that a faxed question be sent but as of press time last night, there was no response.

This as President Obama leaves for a five-day, four-country trip to the Middle East today, June 2, meaning that any possible last minute plans to even issue a proclamation on CAHM would be further delayed.

The White House has in recent months, lauded other heritage months, including Black History as well as Hispanic and Asian heritage months. President Bush last year issued an official proclamation on the month for a second consecutive year while the White House hosted several Caribbean leaders during June in honor of CAHM. This year the President`s political director, Patrick Gaspard, is a Haitian national, but there has been no movement to date to laud the month.

But it`s not just the White House that`s apparently ignoring the month. The mainstream media is also reporting nothing, unlike the ongoing features during the just-concluded Asian Heritage Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. And the U.S. Census has again refrained from issuing its fact for features on the month.

Many other states with a Caribbean population have also yet to make any statements in honor of the month. And there are definitely no corporate ads lauding Caribbean nationals and their historic contribution to the month.

In New York, home to thousands of Caribbean nationals, New York Governor David Patterson has yet to issue a statement or any activity on the month nor has Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

However, there are a few bright spots. New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson is set to celebrate CAHM by again honoring several Caribbean nationals today while Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz, will host a day-long tribute on June 8th.

In Florida, Governor Charlie Crist hailed the contribution of Caribbean owned businesses to the economy of the Sunshine State. He has also praised the vital role Caribbean Americans play in the historical and cultural heritage of Florida.

The governor’s remarks are contained in a message of welcome to participants in the upcoming Fourth Annual Caribbean American Business Expo and Conference to be held June 10-12, in Orlando.

And in Montgomery County, Maryland, Executive Isiah Leggett, kicked off Caribbean American Heritage Month with a special celebration featuring a panel discussion and a community reception yesterday.

Leggett issued a proclamation designating June as Caribbean American Heritage Month.

Meanwhile, CaribID officials are using CAHM to urge Caribbean nationals to ensure they get involved in the push for a Caribbean American ancestry category on the Census form while ensuring they fill out the 2010 form and write in their country of origin under question 8 while ticking `No Not Hispanic.`

Ann Walters, CaribID D.C. representative, insists that in order to fight against the obvious dismissal of Caribbean nationals across the U.S., whether it`s during CAHM or year round, they must get their numbers up, and the only way to do that is through the Census.
She also urged all media to contact CaribID and get involved in spreading the word through ongoing print, radio, TV or Internet ads. For more email

The official Campaign for a National Caribbean American Heritage Month began in 2004, when the Bill was tabled in Congress by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. The Bill was reintroduced and passed the House in June, 2005, and the Senate in February, 2006. A Proclamation making the Resolution official was signed by President Bush on June 5, 2006. – By CWNN staffer.