What up family! Did you know June is Caribbean American Heritage Month? Well, now you know. While last month dealt with countries and islands of the AAPI persuasion in the Pacific, this month is all about those nations in our own back yard.
Established in 2005, this celebratory moment recognizes “the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States.” As a member of the diaspora myself (shout out to my fellow Virgin Islanders,) I’m excited to dig into some interesting cinematics from our warmer cousin-nations.
Celia Cruz, in her lifetime and after, was and is a force to be reckoned with. From her wigs to her music, you really can’t say that Celia didn’t teach your current faves how to slay without discrimination. Celia however starts at the beginning. From political intrigue to romance, it details a bright-eyed young woman’s journey to global stardom. It’s also a serious novela, so strap in for dozens and dozens of melodramatic episodes.
The only American in this film is Gerladine Chaplin, the daughter of ol’ Charlie. But, it all takes place in the Dominican Republic and much of the film is in Spanish. So boom. Anyway, the film concerns itself with Geraldine’s character falling in love with a young Dominican woman, Noeli (Yanet Mojica.) Of course, because this is a drama, Noeli is also in a relationship with a man. So, things get dramatic as the movie rolls on. The film is based on a novel originally focused on two men, but the story was rewritten. Good thing for us movie heads, eh?
Call Me King
While being a beautiful and complex Caribbean country, Haiti is oft-ignored in the mainstream, from media to culture. Probably because it’s the one island country in the western hemisphere that took zero shit from the white supremacist regime (and so on and so forth.) Despite this, this goofy, but ambitious film is a present from the diaspora. It follows one man’s rise to the top of the underworld and is filled with all the requisite one-liners and action. Call Me King has the production value of a premium Nollywood film and the amazing self-seriousness of any good shoot ’em up.
This movie garnered a bit of indie buzz, so I’m super excited to see it hit Netflix. The person in lead and in question here is one Andre Royo, who claims some Caribbean heritage straight outta Cuba. Of course, you’ve seen him do some dope and hilarious work in such fabled projects as The Wire, Bob’s Burgers, Fringe, Hand of God, and of course, Empire. Hunter Gatherer however, concerns itself with Royo’s need to be loved again by an old flame. In the midst of this search, he picks up a friendship with a not-too-bright man and makes a living buying old fridges. Def a good watch for the small human moments.
Okay, Broadchurch isn’t set in the Caribbean. BUT: it’s a great show and over half the season features the incomparable Marianne Jean-Baptiste as the lead counsel of an accused man. If you’re cool, you probably know her from The Cell, Without A Trace, Takers and Blindspot. While not American, Ms. Jean-Baptiste is of the Antiguan and St. Lucian persuasion. The show in question here focuses on
Dr. Who’s David Tennant’s search for the killer of a young boy in a small town. It’s mysterious, well-written and Jean-Baptiste’s acting in it is impeccable.
POST NOTE: Giancarlo Esposito is Not Caribbean
Okay, this may not come as a shock to some of you. But in my head, our boy Giancarlo was of the Caribbean diaspora. Come to find out this man is alllll the way Afro-Italian. Which, you may say “hey dap, his name is Giancarlo Esposito, duh.” To which I say, “whatever man, I seriously thought he was Cuban.” Regardless, Giancarlo has done some incredible work covering the Afro-Latinx and the Caribbean, and now I’m torn as to how that all fits. But hey, if white folks can run around doing unfaithful incarnations of our people, and Taye Diggs could get away with this and Denzel and Robert Townsend could get away with this, I’m fine with our boy Gus.
Dap owns Timberland boots and is committed to loving black women, eating good food and diversifying media as he sees fit and while he can. He can be found yelling into the abyss and being snarky on the following: IG | Twitter