Crosscurrents: West Indian Immigrants and Race

Crosscurrents: West Indian Immigrants and Race. Oxford University Press, 1999.
By Milton Vickerman

Crosscurrents: West Indian Immigrants and Race offers an insightful examination of the complex relationship between race and ethnicity in contemporary American society. Based on interviews with over one hundred Jamaicans in New York, this book presents first-hand accounts of racial experiences among West Indian immigrants living in New York City. It provides an in-depth view of what it means to be West Indian in the United States.

As more and more West Indians enter the United States, they raise a wide range of questions regarding race and ethnicity. West Indian immigrants come from societies where blacks represent the majority, where race is downplayed, and where a high degree of emphasis is placed on merit-based achievement. When these immigrants arrive in the United States they quickly learn that racial identity is considered vitally important and that there is a stigma placed on darker skin. Vickerman offers a comprehensive analysis of West Indians' efforts to cope with this new reality and to develop their own separate identity as West Indians. In particular, he examines themselves from and identify with African Americans.

Vickerman provides a fascinating analysis of the cross-pressures that frame West Indians' perspectives on American Society. He shows how they, along with other immigrants, will have an important impact on the American conception of race, Crosscurrents: West Indian Immigrants and Race is essential for a wide variety of courses including race and ethnicity, immigration, black studies, comparative studies and sociology. By examining the experiences of West Indians, students will learn just how much race remains a crucially important and unforgiving factor in the lives of all blacks in the United States.