Sean joined Delta Capita in October 2021. Before joining Delta Capita, he served in the US Army as an Intelligence Sergeant and deployed twice. Now, he works with tier 1 banks as a consultant.
We can all enjoy celebrating our own culture, but it’s a different feeling when yours is recognised on a wider scale, as happens during Caribbean American Heritage Month. This is a celebration of all things Caribbean, with a host of vibrant events held throughout the month of June each year.
Caribbean culture is growing rapidly in influence and impact worldwide. For example, Grammy award-winning Afrobeat artist Burna Boy has often stated that he draws inspiration from Jamaican dancehall music.
After World War II, Great Britain allowed migrant workers from the Caribbean, alongside those from Africa and India, to help rebuild the country’s infrastructure. These diverse individuals brought their unique culture, including food and music, to many areas of the UK - while innovations continued back home.
The steel pan, which hails from Trinidad and Tobago, is a musical instrument made from discarded oil drums and invented in the 20th century. The drummer strikes the dents and raises in the surface with special drumsticks to create melodic sounds. Since the 1930s, steel pans have been an integral part of Caribbean carnivals worldwide.
At West Indian Day Parades in Brooklyn, New York, steel bands led the procession and were sprinkled in between huge mas (short for masquerade) bands and trailers. I remember the days when my dad would “play mas” and dress up as a Short Knee. These are mas characters who wear colourful costumes – his had several small circle mirrors on the vest and a red mask, and looked very hot to wear.
He would hit everyone he knew with powder as he marched by on Eastern Parkway. Of course, me, my mum and my brother would get it the worst.
What’s a Jab-Jab?
Before most Caribbean Carnivals officially start, we also have J’ouvert - French for daybreak. This is an early morning celebration that involves people dressed in loose clothing and covered head-to-toe in paint and powder. In Grenada, this is also when the Jab-Jab takes to the streets.
Jab comes from the French word “diable” meaning devil. They are often covered in old motor oil, chains, devil horns, a conch shell, and other props which are all deeply symbolic. The oil celebrates the black skin that slave masters often villainised. The chains symbolise the oppression of slavery being broken. The conch shell served as a call to arms; as in the 1791 Haitian Revolution, the largest and most successful slave rebellion in the Western Hemisphere.
The Jab also splashes attendees with oil and performs ghoulish acts to scare children, the uninitiated or the squeamish. The character generally causes mayhem in the crowd, and I remember it happening with unsuspecting members of my own family too, but they had a blast nonetheless.
Sharing cultures freely
I joined Delta Capita in October 2021 after serving in the US Army as an intelligence sergeant. Now, I work with tier 1 banks as a consultant. I’m truly grateful to Delta Capita for allowing everyone to be fully represented in special moments in the workplace. DC employees can share their cultures freely on different platforms. We discover that we have more in common than we thought and can come together to celebrate those commonalities.
Support from Delta Capita
Delta Capita wants all our employees to feel included, regardless of their background, beliefs, or culture. We encourage staff to allocate time to their cultural and religious practices; and to their physical and mental wellbeing too. This support helps employees generally feel healthier, and have more sense of belonging, contentment and engagement at work.
Are you looking for a new workplace that values diversity and employee wellbeing? Look at our latest vacancies, and find out how Delta Capita are engaging with employee-centric projects at our Reinventing Hub.