Labor Day in New York City is host for the most colourful and wildest parade in the U.S. Labor Day Parade, or West Indian Day Carnival. It gathers around two million people in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, on the first Monday of September.
People dress up as politicians, celebrities, or simply put on really vivid and bright costumes with feathers and crystals. The parade marches along the Eastern Parkway accompanied by the sounds of drums, whistles, reggae and calypso music, and sometimes people throw powdered paint at each other. Vendors sell some great ethnic treats and beverages along the way so that both marchers and watchers can fuel up and continue to party.
Since Trump was elected president, the interracial relationships have deteriorated to a state where most Americans (65%) – including majorities across racial and ethnic groups – say it has become more common for people to express racist or racially insensitive views (Pew Research Center). Yet the Caribbean community is historically embedded in the making of New York City as a cultural melting pot.
Caribbean immigration to New York City has been prevalent since the late 1800s and the early 1900s. This immigration wave saw large numbers of people from Jamaica, Haiti Cuba, Dominican Republic Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago. Since the nineteenth century, Caribbean immigrants were counted among some of the most influential members of black American society, holding positions as religious leaders, educators, politicians, and entrepreneurs. In New York City, they contributed with their unique cultural experiences to help shape the state’s identity.
The Carnival is rooted in the 1930's initiatives by Ms. Jessie Wardell and some of her West Indian friends who started it all by staging costume parties in big, enclosed places due to the cold weather of February. Late winter is a traditional time for the pre-Lenten festivities held in most Christian countries around the world. Organizers wanted to change the indoor locations to the open air spaces to keep the true carnival spirit with parading in bright costumes to the sounds of music.