Afro-Caribbean people

Afro-Caribbean people or African Caribbean are Caribbean people who trace their full or partial ancestry to Sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of the modern African-Caribbeans descend from Africans taken as slaves to colonial Caribbean via the trans-Atlantic slave trade between the 15th and 19th centuries to work primarily on various sugar plantations and in domestic households. Other names for the ethnic group include Black Caribbean, Afro or Black West Indian or Afro or Black Antillean. The term Afro-Caribbean was not coined by Caribbean people themselves but was first used by European Americans in the late 1960s.[7]

Afro-Caribbean people
Afro-Caribbean store in Kilkenny, Ireland
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Haiti8.9 million
 Cuba6.9 million[1]
 United States2.88 million
 Jamaica2.2 million
 Dominican Republic2.0 million[2]
 France1.2 million[3]
 United Kingdom1.0 million[4]
 Trinidad and Tobago452,536[5]
 Puerto Rico342,000
 Saint Lucia173,765
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines98,693[6]
 Antigua and Barbuda82,041
 U.S. Virgin Islands80,868
 Saint Kitts and Nevis38,827
Predominantly: Minority:
Related ethnic groups
Afro–Latin Americans, Americo-Liberians, African Americans, Sierra Leone Creoles, West Africans

People of Afro-Caribbean descent today are largely of West African ancestry, and may additionally be of other origins, including European, South Asian and native Caribbean descent, as there has been extensive intermarriage and unions among the peoples of the Caribbean over the centuries.

Although most Afro-Caribbean people today continue to live in English, French and Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations and territories, there are also significant diaspora populations throughout the Western world, especially in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands. Caribbean peoples are predominantly of Christian faith, though some practice African-derived or syncretic religions, such as Santeria or Vodou. Many speak creole languages, such as Haitian Creole, Jamaican Patois, or Papiamento.

Both the home and diaspora populations have produced a number of individuals who have had a notable influence on modern African, Caribbean and Western societies; they include political activists such as Marcus Garvey and C. L. R. James; writers and theorists such as Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon; US military leader and statesman Colin Powell; and musicians Bob Marley, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna.


16th–18th centuries

During the post-Columbian era, the archipelagos and islands of the Caribbean were the first sites of African diaspora dispersal in the western Atlantic. Specifically, in 1492, Pedro Alonso Niño, an African-Spanish seafarer, was recorded as piloting one of Columbus' ships. He returned in 1499, but did not settle. In the early 16th century, more Africans began to enter the population of the Spanish Caribbean colonies, sometimes arriving as free men of mixed ancestry or as indentured servants, but increasingly as enslaved workers and servants. This increasing demand for African labour in the Caribbean was in part the result of massive depopulation of the native Taino and other indigenous peoples caused by the new infectious diseases, harsh conditions, and warfare brought by European colonists. By the mid-16th century, the slave trade from West Africa to the Caribbean was so profitable that Francis Drake and John Hawkins were prepared to engage in piracy as well as break Spanish colonial laws, in order to forcibly transport approximately 1500 enslaved people from Sierra Leone to Hispaniola (modern-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic).[8]

During the 17th and 18th centuries, European colonial development in the Caribbean became increasingly reliant on plantation slavery to cultivate and process the lucrative commodity crop of sugarcane. On many islands shortly before the end of the 18th century, the enslaved Afro-Caribbeans greatly outnumbered their European masters. In addition, there developed a class of free people of color, especially in the French islands, where persons of mixed race were given certain rights.[9] On Saint-Domingue, free people of color and slaves rebelled against harsh conditions, and constant inter-imperial warfare. Inspired by French revolutionary sentiments that at one point freed the slaves, Toussaint L'Ouverture and Jean Jacques Dessalines led the Haitian Revolution that gained the independence of Haiti in 1804, the first Afro-Caribbean republic in the Western Hemisphere.

19th–20th centuries

In 1804, Haiti, with its overwhelmingly African population and leadership, became the second nation in the Americas to win independence from a European state. During the 19th century, continuous waves of rebellion, such as the Baptist War, led by Sam Sharpe in Jamaica, created the conditions for the incremental abolition of slavery in the region by various colonial powers. Great Britain abolished slavery in its holdings in 1834. Cuba was the last island to be emancipated, when Spain abolished slavery in its colonies.

During the 20th century, Afro-Caribbean people, who were a majority in many Caribbean societies, began to assert their cultural, economic, and political rights with more vigor on the world stage. Marcus Garvey was among many influential immigrants to the United States from Jamaica, expanding his UNIA movement in New York City and the U.S.[10] Afro-Caribbeans were influential in the Harlem Renaissance as artists and writers. Aimé Césaire developed a négritude movement.

In the 1960s, the West Indian territories were given their political independence from British colonial rule. They were pre-eminent in creating new cultural forms such as reggae music, calypso and Rastafari within the Caribbean. Beyond the region, a developing Afro-Caribbean diaspora in the United States, including such figures as Stokely Carmichael and DJ Kool Herc, was influential in the development of the Black Power movement of the 1960s and the hip-hop movement of the 1980s. African-Caribbean individuals also contributed to cultural developments in Europe, as evidenced by influential theorists such as Frantz Fanon[11] and Stuart Hall.[12]

Notable people


Science and philosophy

Arts and culture


Main groups


See also


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 August 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. Results   Archived 12 February 2020 at American Fact Finder (US Census Bureau)
  3. INSEE. "Populations légales 2017 des départements et collectivités d'outre-mer" (in French). Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  5. "Trinidad and Tobago 2011 population and housing census demographic report" (PDF). Central Statistical Office. 30 November 2012. p. 94. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 October 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 September 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. Committee on Foreign Affairs, United States Congress House (1970). "Hearings". 2: 64–69. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. Some Historical Account of Guinea: With an Inquiry into the Rise and Progress of the Slave Trade, p. 48, at Google Books
  9. Stephen D. Behrendt, David Richardson, and David Eltis, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research, Harvard University. Based on "records for 27,233 voyages that set out to obtain slaves for the Americas". Stephen Behrendt (1999). "Transatlantic Slave Trade". Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. New York: Basic Civitas Books. ISBN 978-0-465-00071-5.
  10. Martin, Tony. Race First: The Ideological and Organizational Struggle of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1976.
  11. Nigel C. Gibson, Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination (2003: Oxford, Polity Press)
  12. Chen, Kuan-Hsing. "The Formation of a Diasporic Intellectual: An interview with Stuart Hall," collected in David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen (eds), Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, New York: Routledge, 1996.
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