There are all the obvious reasons that it is awesome to have a Caribbean person as your best friend. While many of these reasons are valid in some cases, like having a place to stay when you are traveling in the Caribbean or access to amazing food, there are others that you may have overlooked that could prompt you to seek out a best friend with island roots.
1. You’ll have a friend who values education. Whether your friend grew up in the Caribbean or abroad, they likely have been encouraged to put education first. Many Caribbean families have been separated across continents for the sake of a good education. If you had a Caribbean best friend, you would have someone who would encourage you to learn everything you possibly could and support your efforts to further your education.
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2. You’ll have a trusted party companion. Caribbean parents teach their kids the rules of the party early and often, so by the time you get to college, having a Caribbean best friend can keep you out of a lot of trouble. Years before I would ever set foot into a party, club, or bar on my own, I had been taught not to accept a drink from anyone that was already open, not to set my drink down and come back to it, and not to get a drink out of an open punch bowl. A big one was – you leave together, you come back together. By the time I got to college, I was ready and willing to share my safety tips with my friends.
3. Hospitality is a way of life for your West Indian “BFF.” If you go to your Caribbean best friend’s house, you will be offered WHATEVER is in the fridge, and a place to lay your head if you need it. There is always going to be enough room and enough food, even if there isn’t. Many people coming from the Caribbean come from families that don’t have a lot, but they have been taught that sharing builds a necessary sense of community. If you are lucky enough to have a Caribbean best friend, you will always have a home.
4. You will get the truth, like it or not. If they say you’re looking good… you are looking GOOD. If they offer you a new outfit – maybe even the one off their back – before you go out… listen. Change. The words might not always come out nice, or at the right time, but they will come from the right place. If you hear, “gyal lemme fix yuh hair nuh,” don’t take it personally. Trust that your hair needs fixing. Even if they aren’t straight in their relationship, job, finances, or style, they will be honest with you about yours. You don’t have to believe them or act on their advice, just know it comes from a good place.
5. Your Caribbean best friend will fight for you even if you are wrong, just off the strength of your friendship. How many times have you heard a Caribbean person recount the story of a fight, and just before the part where they jumped in it, they said, “He was meh panda, what I was tuh do nah man?”
6. You will never run out of great topics of conversation. Growing up, I was taught to be seen and not heard. You could be around adult conversation, but you are never, NEVER to join in under any circumstances. Your Caribbean bestie was likely, like me, on the outside looking into some amazing (and often hilarious) conversation, storytelling, political talk, and “ol’ talk” and has plenty pent up opinions for a lifetime of great discussions and debates.
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7. Your Caribbean bestie will be road trip ready. Believe that. Nothing is worse than going on a road trip with someone who has no idea how it should be done. There is no stopping for fast food on the road. The food is good, cooked food, and the cooler is packed with fruit, drinks, and snacks. If you want to stop for food, you can, but trust – whatever your bestie has packed is better than ANYTHING you will find off of the highway. The playlist will be ready. Caribbean people often have varied musical tastes and can jam to whatever, even though certain genres may be close to their hearts. Be ready for a great mix or R&B, pop, rock, alternative, and of course a little dancehall and possibly soca to keep you wide awake.
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8. Their drive will rub off on you. If you are struggling with one job, just seeing them muscle through two or three and a side hustle will make you rethink your efforts. Some West Indians come from families in which parents and grandparents were providing for the family they lived with, caring for elders and children, as well as sending money abroad – either back home to their home country or from home for children in school outside of the country. When life gets easier, that hustle mentality doesn’t vanish. Sometimes you need someone close to you to tell you, “If I can do it, you can do it.”
9. Your West Indian best friend will introduce you to food that you won’t be able to do without. If you aren’t that close, they may never mention the culinary greatness that is roti, REAL jerk chicken, stew chicken, buss up, salt fish, fry bake, black cake, ox tail, and curry… well… everything. You may have a Caribbean friend, but if they don’t feed you or at least show you where to get good Caribbean food, they aren’t your BEST friend.
10. While a Caribbean friend will tell you where to go and what to do in the islands, a Caribbean BEST friend will love you enough to go with you. There is so much that seems simple but really isn’t – like buying snacks on the roadside or getting a taxi from the airport. Your Caribbean best friend will want you to love their home as much as they do and make sure that you see the most beautiful people and places that it has to offer. Not sure if you have a Caribbean best friend or not? If they take you to Carnival, it is pretty much a done deal.
If you already have a Caribbean “BFF,” congratulations! If not, are you ready to find your West Indian bestie? You can start by joining our Facebook group! What makes you an amazing friend? Share with us in the comments.