“Cari” Poppins

Below is an excerpt from an op-ed written by Tamara Mose Brown, author of Raising Brooklyn: Nannies, Childcare, and Caribbeans Creating Community, in the NY Post.

So how did so many women from the Caribbean — particularly Grenada, Trinidad, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Guyana — end up nurturing the children of Park Slope and Carroll Gardens?

Caribbean migration to New York began in the late 19th century, when as many as 30,000 found their way to New York in search of opportunity and established a community. Over the next decades, immigration from the Caribbean increased to approximately 100,000 as the sugar industry declined further with little labor force and low capital flow.

From the 1930s to the 1950s, Caribbean immigration increased just as African-American women were leaving domestic employment in large numbers for jobs in factories or shipyards, which offered higher wages. This opening allowed Caribbean migrants to work in the low-wage domestic service sector. By the 1970s, the need for domestic workers rose as more white middle-class women entered the paid labor force. While earlier generations of Caribbean immigrants came with higher levels of education and skill, more recent generations find themselves in service jobs such as child-care work.

According to the Census, Brooklyn has seen an increase from 1980 to 2008 among West Indians (mostly women) aged 16 and up who have reported themselves to be “child-care workers.” In 2008, West Indian child-care workers in the borough numbered 9,232, which is likely an undercount, since many people do not report their occupation and undocumented immigrants are often hesitant to be included in the census.

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