“Together we aspire, together we achieve”
The motto of the beautiful twin island, I’m proud to call my second home — Trinidad & Tobago.
Born to ambitious Trinidadian parents, I was raised by a group of accepting, diverse and empowering individuals who encouraged me to be my true self in and out of my community. There is almost nothing more important than family to us Trinidadians (Trinis, if you will). The concept of togetherness and fellowship makes Trinidadians unlike any other group in the world. But does this community only share location, or do they have more in common than geography?
In “What Does “Community” Even Mean?”, Fabian Pfortmüller addresses the need to redefine what a community is. He’s not talking about the neighborhood you grew up in or the high school you graduated from. He’s talking about “a group of people that care about each other & feel they belong together.” Here are five valuable community traits I’ve observed in my Trini upbringing:
No, duh! An online community is like a family in a sense. One cousin that always gets on your nerves but is ridiculously kind. The carefree sister who you can tell anything to. While each family member is different in their own way, they all share something stronger than their differences.
Machel Montano, a legendary Trinidadian Soca artist released an infectious song this year named “Famalay” that perfectly describes a good and healthy community.
“We doh see skin. We see power. We doh see race. We see brother.”
In other words, we don’t let our race or any other difference inhibit us from bonding together as a family.
Probably a no brainer, but a healthy and productive community must communicate with each other. Just because a group of people share similar interests, doesn’t mean they will all become the best of friends. Healthy conversation that educates, entertains and inspires is needed within every good community. As a Trini-American, I can almost instantly connect with a fellow Trini based on our accents alone but it’s up to both of us to keep the conversation going past what brought us together. Online, a conversation must be started and consistently updated to hold a good community together.
A good community not only supports each other but consistently nurtures its members to reach their full potential. An online community can definitely be nurturing with the right administrating members. A Facebook group, for example, cannot run smoothly without a supportive and attentive administrator. This administrator must be constantly checking in on its members and aiding in their progress as a group member and an individual. In every Caribbean household, the nurturer is the family’s grandmother; the one person you can go for anything. While all members should be nurturing, it’s up to the group’s creator/administrator to instill this nurturing nature within the group.
Being comfortable as an individual in a group, with the group’s members is crucial to building a strong online community. With trolls bombarding social media comments, many can be wary of sharing their opinions online with others. When meeting other Trinis, a host may offer some delicacies such as roti, doubles and a Carib beer to break the ice and make their guest feels at home. In the same way, a good online community makes its members comfortable by providing value and support to all members.
While a community usually forms due to a similar interest, goal or purpose, members in that community have differing ideas of how to achieve that collective goal. Take for example, a Trini-American whose family comes from the south side of Trinidad and one who hails from the North. Both have different experiences but learn from each other and bond over their similarities.
In the words of Audre Lorde, “without community, there is no liberation…but community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.”