In New York City, Labor Day is associated with the West Indies Carnival. This enormous parade is a magnetic force that attracts, on average, one million spectators every year. It is not a space to talk about labor or exploitation. It is a massive celebration of Caribbean culture and heritage.

The carnival takes place in Crown Heights, East Flatbush, and other surrounding neighborhoods of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, where many West Indian families are resisting gentrification. Mists of smoke grill and the strong aroma of curry surrounds the parade. While people eat, trucks loaded with speakers blast every possible genre of Caribbean music, from reguetón club hits to hip-shaking gospels. This creates an ambiance carnivalesque unrivalled by other festivities in any of the five boroughs of the city.

This carnival used to take place in Harlem––once a beacon of African American culture and African heritage in the US. Harlem lost the permit to host the carnival in 1964 due to disturbances. A fact that is perhaps more telling of the political climate than of what the carnival has represented throughout its history: imagine the plausible occurrence, in the minds of officials, of an energetic celebration of African heritage and miscegenation, joining forces with the then growing protests spurred by the Civil Rights Movement.

But the Carnival resisted, and it moved to Brooklyn. A less known festivity that is paired with the carnival, J’Ouvert (or Jouvay, which is creole for open day) breaks out at midnight with drums playing on Flatbush Avenue and then disperses until the dawn of Labor Day. This festivity is not only of great importance due to its ritual significance, but also because it is celebrating the  emancipation from slavery. The festivity is tied historically to representations of disruption of social norms and the establishment.

While mainstream media tends to focus on episodic gang-related violence surrounding the carnival (especially during Jouvay), this photo essay attempts to portray the many facets of this massive celebration. Cultural pride, diversity, familial and ancestral ties are at the heart of this parade. Not to mention a surge of creativity.






























Follow Latin America is a Country on Twitter and Facebook.

Further Reading

A power crisis

Andre De Ruyter, the former CEO of Eskom, has presented himself as a simple hero trying to save South Africa’s struggling power utility against corrupt forces. But this racially charged narrative is ultimately self-serving.

Cinematic universality

Fatou Cissé’s directorial debut meditates on the uncertain fate and importance of Malian cinema amidst the growing dismissiveness towards the humanities across the world.

The meanings of Heath Streak

Zimbabwean cricketing legend Heath Streak’s career mirrors many of the unresolved tensions of race and class in Zimbabwe. Yet few white Zimbabwean sporting figures are able to stir interest and conversation across the nation’s many divides.


After winning Italy’s Serie A with Napoli, Victor Osimhen has cemented his claim to being Africa’s biggest footballing icon. But is the trend of individual stardom good for sports and politics?

The magic man

Chris Blackwell’s long-awaited autobiography shows him as a romantic rogue; a risk taker whose life compass has been an open mind and gift to hear and see slightly into the future.

How to think about colonialism

Contemporary approaches to the legacy of colonialism tend to narrowly emphasize political agency as the solution to Africa’s problems. But agency is configured through historically particular relations of which we are not sole authors.

More than just a flag

South Africa’s apartheid flag has been declared hate speech by a top court. But while courts are important and their judgments matter, racism is a long and internationally entrenched social phenomenon that cannot be undone via judicial processes.

Resistance is a continuous endeavor

For more than 75 years, Palestinians have organized for a liberated future. Today, as resistance against Israeli apartheid intensifies, unity and revolutionary optimism has become the main infrastructure of struggle.