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Kizzy Cox

Kizzy Cox

Caribbean LGBT Masqueraders Make a Vivid Display at NYC Pride Parade 2018

WATCH VIDEO: NYC Gay Pride Parade revelers weigh in on a Trinidadian judge’s ruling that colonial-era laws banning gay sex are unconstitutional

The streets of lower Manhattan were turned into a beautiful mosaic of Caribbean flags, dazzling costumes and rainbow flags at NYC's pride parade this year.

While the Caribbean is famous for its diverse population and laid-back vibe, the region isn't that accepting of the gay (LGBT) community due to the strong influence of religion and culture. The prevailing attitude is that LGBT relationships should remain out of sight, if not banned completely. But revelers at this year’s pride parade affirmed their sexuality and their Caribbean heritage as they wined to hype soca beats in full carnival costume or waved their country’s flag.

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Caribbean Equality Project's Prideful Masqueraders Showcasing Traditional Indian Wear. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud

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Caribbean Equality Project's Members. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud

Hundreds of marchers came together under the banner of the Caribbean Equality Project, an NYC non-profit founded by Mohamed Amin to provide support, advocacy and asylum assistance for the LGBT community in the Caribbean diaspora. After Mr. Amin and his siblings were victims of a hate crime in 2013 in Queens, he realized LGBT people of Caribbean descent often persecuted by their communities or rejected by their families because of their sexuality, needed a safe space to be—so he created one.

Mohamed Amin from Caribbean Equality Project

Mohamed Q. Amin, a human rights activist and founder of the Caribbean Equality Project.

And because homophobia continues to be an issue in the Caribbean, the organization’s asylum work has become even more vital. “The need is there for queer Caribbeans who don’t have anywhere else to go in New York and who also don’t know how to access the different agencies in New York City that will be a support to them,” said Mr. Amin.

Anoop H Pandohie and Mohamed Q Amin founder Caribbean Equality Project

Anoop H. Pandohie (Trinidadian) and Partner, Mohamed Q. Amin (Guyanese), Founder of Caribbean Equality Project. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud

But the recent historic ruling in Trinidad and Tobago to decriminalize homosexuality may eventually allow for greater acceptance of LGBT people in the Caribbean community. A high court judge ruled on April 12, 2018, that the Caribbean nation’s colonial-era law banning gay sex is unconstitutional, a development that parade goers welcomed.

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Caribbean Equality Project's Prideful Masqueraders. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud

“I think what it does, it sets a precedent for all the other Caribbean countries you know like this is sort of like a step forward to say, ok here’s one country and if we’re all united under Caricom whether legally…or culturally under our history or whatever, we will move forward. So it really provides a sense of hope that we’re pushing the boundaries and just accepting people you know what I’m saying, so I’m living for it. I’m so happy,” said Kadeem Robinson who’s originally from Jamaica.

 

Caribbean reveler Kadeem Robinson from Jamaica at 2018 Gay Pride parade

The final ruling on whether to remove the colonial-era laws from the books or simply change them is scheduled to happen later in July. But in the meantime, people like Monica Persaud, showed up at the parade with her grandchildren (one just 3 years old) to support her son, Marcus Persaud who works with Caribbean Equality Project.

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Ms. Persaud and her family. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud

Ms. Persaud is well aware of the prohibitions against homosexuality in scriptures and the pressure to reject her child’s sexuality but had this message to share “You never know what that child could become so you need to show them love and focus on God who created them and you need to get that started from young—just show love,” she said.

NOTE: On August 10, 2016, a judge in Belize ruled that a law criminalizing same-sex intimacy is unconstitutional.

 

Kizzy Cox, a reporter, and co-host of What's The 411 loves to travel. When she's not tracking down news stories, you can find her far away from home learning about new cultures.

 

Exuberance Abounds at Barack Obama's 2nd Presidential Inauguration

Video: Americans express hope for President Barack Obama's 2nd term on Inauguration Day 2013

On Monday, January 21, 2013, exuberant citizens braved the cold and lined up before dawn to see history in the making with the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

It wasn't just first-timers who made the trek to Washington DC, many people who witnessed President Obama's 2009 inauguration, like Laura Hendricks from the state of Maine, came back to show their support. Whether attending for the first or second time, the nearly one million people who packed the National Mall went wild, waving their flags and yelling excitedly once the president was sworn in. The day's importance didn't end with the inauguration, it also marked the beginning of the President's second term and another opportunity to see his vision for the country realized.

What's The 411 correspondent, Kizzy Cox, was right there in the midst of the action and asked the revelers what they hoped the president's vision would include over the next 4 years.

 

Justice for Trayvon Martin Rally – NYC

WATCH VIDEO: Trayvon Martin Trial Outcome Protest in NYC

Not even the scorching sun and oppressive July heat could stop demonstrators from gathering in New York City to protest George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The protest was organized by Occupy Wall Street just hours after the jury handed down the verdict.

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While some, like Valerie Greene, were surprised by the verdict, "I think it's an absolute appalling travesty of justice. I'm shocked." 

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Others like Anyah Jones were not, "I wasn't surprised I know where we live, this is the country we live in. This is the country we've always lived in. I feel like the trial was for show."

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Demonstrators met in Union Square at 6pm to share their frustration over the case and to demand justice for Trayvon. By 6:30pm this reporter joined hundreds of protestors who took to the streets, marching, chanting and calling for those on the sidewalks watching to join them. Some of the most enthusiastic and biggest chants came from the littlest protesters. Four girls, ages 5 through 10 enlivened the marchers with chants of "I am? Trayvon Martin, We are? Trayvon Martin."

Justice-for-Trayvon.Still018 Young Children RESIZED 600X338Ten year-old Hailie Perez (second from right) with her sister and friends at Justice for Trayvon Martin Rally in New York City, July 14, 2013

When asked why she chose to spend a sunny afternoon fighting for justice, 10-year-old Hailie Perez said "I have a father and a little brother at home and they could be in the same situation as Trayvon Martin and I never want that to happen." Check out the video for more reaction, reasons for protesting and why the Trayvon Martin case just might be "our civil rights movement!"

Photo Credit: Kizzy Cox/What's The 411 Networks

Nelson Mandela: Remembrance of a Father and Grandfather

WATCH VIDEO: NELSON MANDELA REMEMBERED

Dr. Makaziwe Mandela remembers fondly how, as a little girl of 6 or 7, she walked around a farm with her father, Nelson Mandela and they talked about "everything and anything."

It was a simple moment made precious because Dr. Mandela's father was an African National Congress (ANC) leader in hiding and she was only with him for the weekend. His activism and defiance of the apartheid regime would not go unpunished. Only a couple of years later he was taken from his family and thrown into prison where he remained for 27 grueling years.

While in prison, his commitment to equality for all South Africans remained strong and his stature around the world grew as support for apartheid declined.

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