My pan-Caribbean background
I am a middle-aged black woman who was born in Guyana, grew up in Barbados and have lived for the past 13 years in Trinidad and Tobago.
That means I have experienced a range of Caribbean cultures, since, strange though it may seem, every Caribbean country is similar and at the same time unique.
Guyana is like Trinidad and Tobago only in respect of its ethnic makeup, since the dominant populations in both these countries are East Indian and Afro-Caribbean. So many of the foods are similar and some of the racial tensions are the same. These countries also have significant Chinese populations, though Guyana has a much larger indigenous population of Arawaks and Caribs, known as First Peoples because the Europeans found them when they arrived in the Caribbean.
Barbados is more predominantly black with some Asians and local whites. However, the culture is very much Old England with very strongly held views about respectability and socially acceptable conduct. Barbados has long been known as Little England since it is one of the few Caribbean countries that was owned only by the English. In contrast, Trinidad and Tobago was colonised by the French, English, Spanish, and in Tobago even by the Latvians.
I prefer living in Trinidad and Tobago since there is a greater respect for individuality and the atmosphere is more relaxed than Barbados. At the same time, for those who are entrepreneurial, Trinidad is a paradise since, unlike Barbados, it is less about who you know and more about what you can do. Trinidad and Tobago is also the regional powerhouse as far as commerce is concerned and owns and controls many of the businesses throughout the Caribbean, including in Barbados.
I experience cultural daily because of my work as a journalist and copywriter. In those capacities, I get to write about shows and attend events that give me a bird's eye view of local culture. I also attend art exhibitions at the local art galleries. Here in Trinidad there is a burgeoning contemporary art scene with many of the artists making waves internationally.
Yes, I do experience global culture daily. Trinidad and Tobago is a very sophisticated society that keeps up with the latest trends, particularly in the area of social media. Further, the country attracts a lot of attention from international media, sometimes for the wrong reasons, and I get to interact with these journalists sometimes as well as see their perception of us. Further, there is a national holiday for some of the ethnic groups in the country, and on those days emphasis is put on celebrating the culture of the particular ethnic group being celebrated.