(Above) Nicole Scott, explores her garden, Scott’s family cooks traditional Trinidad meals to honor her culture.
Nicole Scott goes into depth about her families Caribbean roots
Warmhearted, fun-loving, hospitable, words Nicole Scott describes the Trinidadian culture as. Growing up in a Caribbean background wasn’t a challenge for Scott.
“It seemed pretty normal to me because it was the norm. All of my friends had Caribbean backgrounds the only difference was that our parents came from different Caribbean countries,” said Scott. Scott and her friends were all educated the same and were given similar discipline in each others homes.
Realizing that the way she grew up was far different than it was for Americans didn’t happen until Scott went to college.
“When I went to college, I noticed that I wasn’t as much as an American than I thought I was. When you, when you grow up in a Caribbean household, especially somewhere in New York where all your friends have the same experience as you do, It’s only when you get out into an environment where there aren’t as many people from the Caribbean, that you really stand out. The words that you would use for different things, or the way you would pronounce things, and you realize how different you are that you do come from a very different culture than the people who are in this country.”
Scott eventually came to realize that the Trinidadian history was different from the history for African Americans. Slavery for Trinidadians ended decades before it ended in America.
“When slavery ended in Trinidad, Trinidadians didn’t go through the hardships that people went through here. There were no, there were no Civil Rights movements, Jim Crow laws, not racism between blacks and whites,” said Scott.
Trinidadians got support from England and were under their government system so they didn’t financially struggle. Though her family came for better opportunities, being the first in her family to be born in America, wasn’t always easy for Scott . Feeling like an outcast always made her feel different.
“It was definitely different, especially when I would go down to visit, I felt very self conscious because as a kid, hearing the, the Trinidadian accent, it was so alluring to me. It was something that I liked and speaking as an American, I just felt that I sounded so boring, and so, just so uninteresting.”
The Trinidadian culture doesn’t only come with history, but comes with authentic food as well. The food comes from several different countries and other cultures such as French, African, Indian, Spanish, Chinese, Caucasian, and Middle Eastern.
Scott said, “Every Sunday comprised as a big meal which had your meat, a rice dish, a vegetable and my favorite as a kid macaroni pie.”
As does Scott, her daughter Nichelle Scott also enjoys the culture. “I love the cuisine and the togetherness of the Trinidadian-American community,” said Scott’s daughter.
Just as we do in America, Trinidadians celebrate their own cultural activities including Carnival, Diwali, and Christmas.
“The biggest thing would be Carnival, that is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday which is very similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. That is based off of the end of slavery, that’s really where it all started, Scott said.”
Diwali is celebrated by many indians and is celebrated by Indians in America. In Trinidad, Christmas which is celebrated all around the world, has great meaning to those who celebrate.
“We would always get a ham for Christmas, fresh baked bread was always important, um there’s something called pastelles, actually another favorite of mine, very similar to a tomalis,” Scott said.
Scott has enjoyed living in a culture that has had so much to offer and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Written By: Carleen S.