Marlon A. Hill on Carry On Friends The Caribbean American Podcast shares the key to making impact in our communities

Ep: 110 The Key to Making Impact in Our Communities with Marlon Hill

Marlon A. Hill is a Jamaican American corporate lawyer and business strategist based in Miami FL. He is a past president of the Caribbean Bar Association and trustee of The Miami Foundation. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Orange Bowl Committee and Miami Parking Authority. He is one of the advisor/mentors of the Florida Caribbean Students Association. He is presently a candidate for the Miami-Dade County Commission, District 9.

In this episode, Marlon shares his personal story that led him to become a candidate for the Miami-Dade County Commission, District 9. He also touched on some important topics including:

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Kerry-Ann:Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Carry on Friends, the Caribbean American podcast. I am excited because I have Marlon Hill as my guest today on the show. Marlon, welcome to the show. How are you?

Marlon:Pleasant, pleasant. Great to be here. Keep calm and carry on.

Kerry-Ann: Yes, yes absolutely. So Marlon, for anyone who’s not familiar with who you are, tell a little bit about yourself, island you represent, and who is Marlon Hill. 

Marlon:Who is Marlon Hill? What is Marlon Hill’s story? Marlon represents the land of wood and water 4,411 square miles of beauty and brilliance. Exported to the shores of Miami Dade County in the United States of America in 1985, and finished up high school here after leaving St. George’s College at the beginning of fourth form, and went on to school at Florida State University and studied international business and finance, and minored in Spanish, and stayed at Florida State as a double noa?for law school. And then came back to Miami to start charting my path as a business lawyer. Pretty much summarizes Marlon. I went to school in Barbados for a little bit, went to school in Costa Rica for a little bit, but I am firmly rooted in the 305, 786 area code in Miami Dade County, which is otherwise sometimes known as Kingston 21.

Kerry-Ann: Now that is a really great introduction. I told someone that, “Hey, I’m going to have Marlon Hill on the show, any questions you have for him?” And one question came up was—well you’ve told a little bit of your personal story in general, but the one thing that I know from seeing you on social media, you’re very active in the community in Florida, the Caribbean American community. You are also now running for an office in the Miami Dade area. So talk a little bit about your involvement in the Caribbean American community there, why, and a little bit about you running for office because I have some follow up questions around your identity and how much that plays into what you’ve been doing personally, professionally and now as you engage in public service.

Marlon:My involvement in the community is not something that was a yesterday kind of thing. I really learned quite a bit from the Jesuits at St. George’s College on North Street. I mean, the tradition of servant leadership is something that has been embedded in my life and what I do for a very long time. So, from when I left St. George’s and came to the United States, being Catholic and being part of the Jesuit tradition at George’s, I’m doing everything for the greater glory of God, is always at the center of everything that I do. So anything that I did in high school, being involved with any activities in high school, going to Florida State and being involved with the Caribbean Students Association, and then continuing to mentor college students of Caribbean descent. And then coming back to Miami and making a contribution there in a number of issues, like immigrant advocacy, we’re helping new immigrants to assimilate to the United States and helping Caribbean businesses to find resources out in the community. It has always been part of my DNA. This whole idea—this recent idea of me running for the Miami Dade County Commission in 2020 is just a bigger platform for what I’ve already been doing since I was a teenager. So when it comes to making the decision as to how you are going to make a personal contribution to where you live, it’s really just all about doing you and being passionate about the things that you care about, and just making the decision to leave the boundaries of what you do from the 9 to 5 and making a contribution. It’s really that simple. 

Kerry-Ann: I love it. I totally identify with growing up and this mindset of community and giving back. It’s something that was deeply rooted when I went to church and you had to volunteer. I went to a Catholic girls’ school in Jamaica, Montego Bay, Mount Alvernia. So a lot of how we were schooled was not only on academics, but what are you doing to enrich your community, et cetera, et cetera. You wrote a really great article in Caribbean National Weekly about the time for Caribbean Americans to pursue opportunities in public service. I’ll share that article, but you mentioned that we’ve acclimated, assimilated and it’s now time for us to integrate. Can you explain that breakdown why—what’s acclimation, assimilation and why now integration? And then go into another big thing that’s looming in the next…

Marlon:Absolutely. Well every immigrant family or any immigrant, we go through those three stages. So whether you came here—whether your family came here in the 60s as students at Howard University or wherever they went to school, or they came here as a laborer in the farm fields or the cane fields, or they came here as a nurse, or even just with a family member, we all go through that phase of just trying to get used to living in Brooklyn or living in Atlanta or living in Miami, trying to get familiarized with the neighborhood and how do you take public transportation, where do you look for a job. These are things that relate to being acclimated to the new environment. We all go through this step, the sweaty palms and the nervousness of the job interview, and getting used to living in America. That’s acclimation. Assimilation has to do with when we start to join a church or participating in the Parents, Teachers, Students Association or we join a social group. We’re becoming part of the community that we live in and that’s assimilated. Integrating is the real, final phase where we are doing things that involve leadership opportunities that involve maybe even buying a home permanently in a community. It could involve us taking on a new job, in terms of a leadership opportunity in a new job. It could mean playing a role on a non-profit board, chairing the board or being a member of the board. Those are integration decisions where we now become a meaningful part of the fabric of the community that we live in. 

It’s important for us to understand what phase we are in, in those three stages because it could determine the kind of support that you need, the relationships that you need. If we can help each other to successfully get through those phases, we can have a more meaningful impact on America. So not all of us have the support that—when my mom came here in 1985, 1984 thereabout, she didn’t know anything about what school and where to go. She was just making her way through the best way she knew how. Well what if she had a more visible support system ready to help plug her in and to help her access resources, then she would have helped with my own acclimation, my own assimilation. That cycle is so important for us as a community to pay attention to how we develop that type of emotional, moral, support and infrastructure to be successful in this land of land of dreams.

Kerry-Ann: Yeah, that resonates with me so well because I always tell everyone my immigration story is a slightly unique one. Well, I wouldn’t say unique; I don’t hear a lot of it. My mom and myself—so my mom and all her kids came to America, all at the same time. There was no her coming and then sending for us. So she was trying to do just that, figure out how to acclimate and assimilate, the same time all of her four kids were trying to do the same thing. It was very challenging. I know the value of what a community—I think it was Faye, who is almost like an aunt, who grew up with us, who’s been here longer—you have that one person from back home who know the ropes and will carry you around. But while she supported my mom, there was this gap where you have kids ranging from teenage to pre-teen to a baby, trying to figure out like oh we can’t go outside and play like we used to. So how much that impacts us—and when I came here, I was at the cusp of starting to apply for college and you come from Jamaica you say, 

“Oh, I doan waan trust nothing that’s student loans.”, [Translation:Oh I don’t want to borrow…that’s student loans.]

and making decisions around school because understanding the labyrinth that is applying to college and what’s financial aid and what that looks like. So I think that is a very critical point, and still an opportunity for—within the Caribbean community, to have organizations or networks to support acclimation, and to a certain extent, assimilation.

Marlon:There needs to be a process. Even before you leave Jamaica or you leave the Caribbean islands, or whatever island you’re from or whatever country that you may be from—before you leave, you really need to have a plan or access to certain relationships that are going to help you get settled before you even get off the plane. 

Kerry-Ann: Yeah. You kind of make that connection before you even get here and not wait. It’s almost like we hear a lot about these carnival concierge, where the planning is done before you even get to the country. It’s almost like an immigration concierge of sorts where you’re kind of helping, being supported even before you get here because the level of anxiety before you even get here is something—that mental support is critical.

Marlon:Absolutely. There may be even an opportunity there for some sort of social entrepreneurship organization to create something like that.

Kerry-Ann: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I love it. I really love it. So then now, you said something about meaningful impact. So as a Caribbean American, we know that we have people who’ve made meaningful impact to the US and American history, but in what way do you think we can make a more meaningful impact in America.

Marlon:This is important for every person, every Caribbean American, person of Caribbean descent, to recognize that you have value, you have purpose, and you have the power to make impact just by yourself. You’re one person of existence, could move the needle on a number of issues just based on where you stand. That impact is based on the decisions and the actions that you make to recognize, to have that self-awareness, that you do have the power to make that impact. So if you are a single mother from Barbados, you have two kids, you’re trying to juggle the jobs, pay the bills, you may feel lost. You may feel helpless. You may even feel powerless, but in fact, you still have the power to make decisions on what you’re going to do that’s best for your family, how to get involved with your kids’ school. Are you in touch with the elected officials of your city or your county and your state? Are you articulating what your needs are to them? Are you involved with an organization that may be associated with your church or your place of worship? You have to kind of proactively seek out, within reach, the things that are not outside of your schedule that would burden you with time, but it is within your lane of your lifestyle. You’ve got to see, okay, what can I do that I love doing, it’s in my interest, in line with my values, it’s in line with the needs of my family? And you kind of seek out those resources that are near to you in your local community. You have to think strategically as to how is it that you are going to utilize the talents that you have to support things that are related to the community that you live in. You don’t have to wait on an organization to create the opportunity for you. You have to insert yourself into the equation of your community. That’s my point.

Kerry-Ann: Yeah. Don’t wait on an organization or depend on or rely—oh dem ‘ave organization dat can do dat. [Translation:Oh they have organization that can do that] It really starts with us.

Marlon:You have to insert yourself into that equation, into that organization. I’m not saying that you have to lead or run things. I’m just saying that you have to participate. You have to go and ask questions. You have to go and see what’s available for you. And if in fact you do end up having more than just a physical presence, but you also have a leadership role, then your impact changes depending on what your capacity and your ability is. But you can’t just sit down twiddling your thumbs hoping that the community is going to come knocking at your doorstep and say, “What can we do for you today?”

Kerry-Ann: Yeah, yeah that’s not going to happen. So this leads me to the question around the census and the question around identifying country of heritage. But before I get into it, maybe you can best articulate the issue around the census and the question that allows us to identify our country of heritage, and what do you think the significance or the impact of that question will be for states like Florida, New York, Massachusetts, or states where there’s a high Caribbean population and what does that mean in terms of resources.

Marlon:The census is a very important part of our constitutional process. It’s written in the Constitution. You have to conduct a census every 10 years. The census tries to conduct a head count of every single person that’s within the country, irrespective of their citizenship, which is a question that is being widely right now. But it’s a head count of every single person that is located within a particular municipality or county or state. It’s important because it drives how political boundaries are written, because you remember each member of Congress represents a certain number of people equally. If the population changes in a particular city, there may be a requirement for more than one congressional representative to be assigned to that particular location because of the change in population, because the boundaries change. So that’s important. It’s also important to determine how federal dollars are allocated for the resources that we need; roads, issues with regards to social services… 

Kerry-Ann: Schools.

Marlon:Schools. A whole list of other ways in which the budget is parsed out is based on the numbers related to the census. So it’s very important. The last one was in 2010. The census draws on a number of—if you go to, you can get lots of great marketing information on the zip code or the census area where you live or you can find out how many families, male, female, the ages of people, socioeconomic status. Do they own a home? Do they rent a home? You can find out their heritage. You may have persons who are a particular race, background. You can find out the percentage of people where you live. So if you are starting a business, you can target your messaging based on what you think those demographics are or you can make certain influences on that. So I would mark the census African-American black, but I also write in Jamaican, because I think that’s important. The census doesn’t have a category for Jamaican or a category for Trinidadian or St. Lucian. You may be Asian-American, but have no connection to China or Taiwan. You may have to write in Trinidad and Tobago or you may have to write in Suriname, because your racial heritage is important to you. Or you may be multicultural and you self-identify your racial heritage, but the nationality is key in my opinion, because if a congressional person just sees that there’s 100,000 black people in Brooklyn, what types of black people? Are they from Nigeria? Are they from Jamaica? Because that may be important in how you shape policy as it relates to foreign policy for that country. It may shape how you communicate or where do you communicate, what locationwould you go to. 

So this census process is so important in terms of 1) claiming your existence. If you’re not counted, then you do exist in the budget, you don’t exist in the political representation. So you’ve got to make sure that you raise your hand and say, “Hey, I’m here.”—whatever your status is and self-identify in terms of who you are, to make sure that when Congress starts making these types of decisions on boundaries and allocating dollars, that you will get your fair share of representation.

Kerry-Ann: I think that’s an important point because a lot of times, being in the digital space, we find that it’s very hard for us to target certain messages to the Caribbean community, because we’re lumped in with African-American. If you try to run Facebook ads, you can’t target Caribbean people in a particular state because there is no designation or opportunity to do that. I think that’s inherent in how the demographics are captured. I think it’s very hard to really reach people if you don’t have a set of data or you don’t have a place to go, or like you said, looking at zip codes and seeing where people are. I think the census is important. I think the concerns around the census we’ll address in another episode, has to do with the fear around this administration around immigrants, and whether they even want to complete it to bring attention to themselves.

Marlon:I think it’s very important for folks to know, Kerry-Ann, that whatever your immigration status is, you need to stand up and be counted. Your immigration status and the situation surrounding your life of acclimation and assimilation will sort itself out, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. We can’t change the reality of the direction you may be going in, because we are either trying to sort it out or we’re planning it out. It’s important for all our families, whether they’re here or in the particular country that they may be from. Immigration is not something that you wake up and decide, “This is what I’m going to do for my family, with my family”. You have to plan it out. The kids are finishing up high school in Jamaica and a job opportunity comes up or the visa comes current, are you going to allow them to finish high school in Jamaica and go to college in Jamaica or you’re going to plan for them to go to college in the United States or overseas? Are you going to take advantage of the fact now that the visa is current? You have to plan it out. I don’t think many of our families—it’s your integration plan. Just like you plan your business, you have to plan how your family is going to stay together and succeed together. You can’t just wake up next year and decide we’re going to move now. You really need to start thinking about when you’re going to move, how you’re going to move, where you’re going to move, what are you going to do when you get there. Is it a city or is it a county? What state is it? You have to start getting yourself acclimated even before you arrive.

Kerry-Ann: Yeah. Who you’re going to stay with? How long you’re going to stay with that person before you have to find someplace else to live?

Marlon:And unfortunately, many of our people that I know, are being reactive in how they get settled in this new immigrant life. We have to do a better job of planning things out and solidifying a support system. When you don’t plan it out, people get into trouble. They get into trouble financially. It could be issues with the landlord, tenant. It could be issues with the law. We’re cutting corners, and then it takes so much energy, resources and heartache to unravel when we’re cutting corners. 

Kerry-Ann: Issues with family. Family relationships and the children or whoever you observe. And again, acclimation like you said, it’s planning. I mean when you’re in it, you’re in it, because my mom waited until I finished third form before she said okay we’ll move, but she was approved way before that. So she had to plan and make a decision, like “No, I won’t let drag her out in the middle of the year. She need fi finish the year so she can start school in America and then…” As you know or probably have experienced, when you come to America, you belong in fourth form and they’re like, “No, we’re going to put you back in this grade.”

Marlon:That’s exactly what happened to me. My mom— [I] was a year younger than everybody else, I didn’t have my transcript and they said they’re going to put me back and she said, “If yuh put him back, a gwine tek him straight back.” [Translation:If you put him back (a grade), I’m gonna take him straight back (to Jamaica)] they said, “No, no…” 

Kerry-Ann: That’s the same thing I did. I was like—but it was more pride. I’m like, “No, all my friends are going in 10th grade. I’m not going back into ninth grade.” I was on them, not my mom, but I was on them. My mom, she did the best she could. She focused on the younger kids. So me being the teenager, just really fought to make sure that I wasn’t put back. Those things affect the child psychologically, emotionally because they left Jamaica with their friends in this grade and they’re being left back or put back into a lower grade, and understanding American math versus how you do math. I think one of my culture shock was the way the kids spoke to the teachers and I was looking like, “Oh boy, this well different.”

Marlon:I stood up to answer a teacher and the kids were laughing. 

Kerry-Ann: The teacher walked in the room, you stood up and everybody else sit down looking like what is wrong with you. 

Marlon:What are you doing? Who are you? This alien. But for my friend, Michelle, who became my future law partner, she was born in Brooklyn, but of Jamaican descent. She was the one that stood up for me and reprimanded all the kids that were laughing at me and teasing me. So, I was at that time where kids can be unforgiving, but you go through that process and you learn and figure out your way. 

Kerry-Ann: Yeah. So one of the things that—so I had a question that I’ll probably read. It says your being of Caribbean heritage is the main focus on your candidate profile. And would it have been—would you have chosen that if you were in a different state? And the reason why the person is asking you this question is, there are a lot of candidates that run in other states, but they barely ever mentioned where they were born or if ever just kind of barely mentioned that they’re an immigrant.

Marlon:I think that’s so disingenuous and inauthentic. I don’t care what state I am in, it could be Mocho, I would be in Planet Mocho, I would be saying that I was born in Jamaica and I grew up in the United States, and I grew up in this community. You have to be you. You have to be authentically you. And what would it say to other people if I did not say exactly who I was and what my background is. My experience is my experience. I came here, I’m of Jamaican descent. If you can’t understand it from the lilt in my voice, you can’t—the food that I eat, the music that I like, the things that you see me involved in. There’s no way that I can run away from not being of Caribbean descent. It is part of my DNA. It’s certainly not something that I would ever consider not disclosing. I think it’s an important part of how I view things, my perspective, my world view, how I look at others. My value system, has everything to do with my upbringing and my heritage and coming from Jamaica. It is inextricably a part of who I am as an American.

Kerry-Ann: Everything that you say we understand and everybody who is listening is going like “yes, yes, yes”, but I have friends who are part of groups—I had a friend—I have a friend who is part of a group and they posted in this group that there’s a small scholarship available for a high school student of Caribbean heritage. The chat in the group went very quickly from…

Marlon:Why should you create a scholarship specifically for someone of Caribbean descent.

Kerry-Ann: Yeah. Why should this scholarship exist? Caribbean people are black and they come here and are reaping the benefits on the backs of their ancestors. I saw the comments and it was really aggressive. Especially when you are involved in politics, there is this thing about identity politics and why do Caribbean people feel the need to identify as more than black. And to your point, if I don’t say I’m Jamaican or I was born in Jamaica, I’m basically denying everything about the essence of who I am because, like you said, it has everything to do with my identity. And so the question is, first, so walking down the street, absolutely, I look like a black woman. I do but the way that I raise my children, the way I, like you said, I view the world, the way I move through the world, the confidence by which I move to the world is colored by my experience born in Jamaica, being raised in Jamaica and being of a Jamaican heritage. So what do you say to people who are feeling this aggression about why they have the need to identify as more than black and identify their Caribbean heritage? Because some people are really struggling with—and then how do you deal with those people who come at you very aggressive about you choosing to identify as Caribbean? 

Marlon:They’re struggling with themselves. They’re struggling with themselves. It’s a type of insecurity that—get to know me. I want to get to know your story, your experience as a black person from wherever it is, of equal value to my experience. So I’m not trying to down you, I’m just trying to uplift me and I want to uplift you. I want to celebrate you. I want to love you. I want to learn about you. I want to be inspired by you because you have a value that is different from mine. Same melanin in the skin, same percentage. You may like collard greens, I like callaloo. I like plantains, you may like Mofongo. I like cassava, you like yucca. I like escovitch fish, you like catfish. Unfortunately, our education system and even our media, does not do a good job of sharing the full story of what it means to be black in the world, period. We have these negative images and negative things that don’t tell our full story. And unfortunately, the culture in America, including the census, forces us to check a box, when in fact, the box does exist, but the full story of the box is not told. It’s not told at all. So when you have a Harry Belafonte or a Stokely Carmichael, who are obviously black, contributing to the black struggle and the black experience, it wasn’t really that important that they were from Trinidad or Jamaica. They were expressing the power of their blackness and what it meant to them. So it just depends on who you come across. I just try to help people to tell their story and to share their story, and hopefully, that they’ll appreciate mine. I’m not about to sequester my existence for someone else’s comfort.

Kerry-Ann: I like that. On a previous episode, I was interviewing someone else and they’re like, “We’re not trying to separate. We’re trying to celebrate.” Especially in a world where your identity is identified by race, but you come from a culture where it’s not so much by race. It’s like yeah, you have the social categories of group, it is socioeconomic. It’s all the more why people want to celebrate their culture, because this identity of race, while it exists in your island or your community, it’s not the center focus. Have you dealt with any backlash from identifying as Caribbean or is it just inherent because you’re in Florida, it’s somewhat kind of—people are like, “Yeah.”?

Marlon:No, not really, not directly. I’m sure there are some folks that may whisper and talk about it, but I think if they know me and see me out in the community, I’ve conducted myself in a way that that does not belittle or demean any other culture, even non-black people. So it’s just not something that a Marlon Hill will do. And if they do, they’re just coming at it in the wrong way at the wrong time and at the wrong person. I try to conduct myself in a way that helps people to understand what our shared experiences are, of people of color, irrespective of language or heritage. And then I try to use that as my GPS as to how I make decisions and the things that I get involved with. So most people of color—and I hate to generalize, but if you look at the statistics across the country, we have some of the same challenges; access to job and business opportunities, in terms of access to financial resources. Many people of color are challenged with that. You have challenges with affordable housing or health care statistics across the board. We share experiences there. 

By the same token, we have a number of things that we are successful at. You have many black millionaires across the country. We have a number of people that own small businesses. We are more philanthropic than most communities. There a lot of things, Kerry-Ann, that many times, when we look at our community, we look at it from a negative lens as opposed to what assets and what value bring to society. I prefer to celebrate our assets, the value of our contributions, more often than not, rather than to focus on these divisive or negative conversations about being different or I am choosing to acknowledge that I’m black. Obviously, I am black. I am black, yes. I’m a black man of Jamaican descent. That is a unique as ablack man of Brazilian descent, if you’re a black man of Costa Rican descent, if you’re a black man from South Carolina or a black woman from Brooklyn or a black woman from Toronto. You have a specific experience that you can share, that people can learn from.

Kerry-Ann: Absolutely. So as we wrap up, I’d love to get your thoughts on opportunities where people like myself and others could—we talked about a social entrepreneur and a really great opportunity to help with the acclimation. What are some other opportunities that you think young people or anyone else who is interested, can just see it as anopportunity to do something for the community?

Marlon:The menu is so extensive.

Kerry-Ann: Tell me because I’m taking notes. 

Marlon:The menu is so extensive. First and foremost, you have to know yourself and you have to really pay attention to the things that excite you and that you’re passionate about, and the things that upsets you or the types of things that inspire you. Those are the things that you make a choice, the things that you get involved with. Many people may ask you to get involved in certain things and when—the decision to say yes or to say no is that it has to intersect with your personal and professional life, in order for it to make sense. So I am a business lawyer and I do a lot of work in the entertainment arts and culture, hospitality industry. So I represent cultural organizations. I represent DJs. I represent creative people. I represent the Jamaica Tourist Board. I do things that intersect with my professional and personal life. Those things make it easier to decide whether to say yes or no. Organizations, there are a number of non-profit organizations. that when you are part of a non-profit organization and you serve on the board, you are bringing your value to the table. So you’ve got to be very selective as to organizations that may be out there. It could be a public interest organization. It could be social cultural. It could be education related. It could be environmental related. It could be creative arts related. It could be sports related. These non-profit organizations need brilliant, passionate, motivated people to drive their mission to have impact, but it has to be in sync with where your life is, where do you work. Do you have kids? Where do you live? Those are platforms that you choose to get involved with. 

On the other level, you have the public sector where you may live in a particular city. Are you going to city hall meetings? Various city councils and county commissions appoint various boards and task force on many, many issues. They’re looking for people who have an interest and a passion for those things to be appointed. You can get involved there. Obviously, you could decide to run for office on a local level, city commission. That’s just a different platform for being involved. So the menu is curated depending on who it’s curated for. So you are unique. You are a special person. You are not like your neighbor across the street or your co-worker or the person that’s sitting beside you in the pews. You have to figure out what it is that is important to you, inspires you, and then you make a decision to put in your time and your talent. There are three things that you put in: time, you put in your talent, and you put in your money. Three things that I tell people all the time, that you make a decision to make an impact. Meaningful, purposeful, intentional impact involve those three things. When you’re not working and you’re not taking care of yourself, are you going to give your time to that organization? If you have a special skill, when are you going to give your talent to that organization and that platform. 

The last thing, we all have a limited budget, unless you are independently wealthy like Mr. Bronson or Tiger Woods or whomever. We don’t have a bottomless pit of extended wealth, so you have to make decisions as to who you donate to. We don’t do enough of that – philanthropy Or if you donate to a candidate, even if it’s $5, $10. Are you putting your money where your mouth is? And some people can give $10, but some people can give $1000. And that’s when you really see a community becoming integrated, is when we start to invest in our permanent participation and engagement in that particular city or community that you’re a part of. When you start to buy property and to buy shares or to donate to a candidate or organization, that’s when you see integration starting to make an impact. Not just a spectator.

Kerry-Ann: Yeah, I love it. I love it. I’m so inspired by this conversation because a lot of times, and as most Caribbean people said, or like you said in the article, we have to move from being veranda politicians and spectators and decide to wade in the water and jump off…

Marlon:Yeah and the remote control of the MSNBC and CNN can only have so much pontification. The brilliance that comes from these veranda conversations… 

Kerry-Ann: I’m telling you, I’m telling you—I have an uncle, and I tell you, he lives on MSNBC and he guh toe to toe with the TV, [Translation:I have an uncle that loves MSNBC and he goes toe to toe with the TV] 

talking to his favorite Rachel—like he toe to toe wid har on it. And nobody else but me and the people in the house hear him when he… 

Marlon:Yeah, he needs to take it out in the community. He could get involved with the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, or some other social organization that is making an impact. I’m positive that your uncle has some time and talent and resources that could make an impact. We have passed the timeline of spectating in the grandstand. It’s time for us to get down on the field and the battlefield and really start moving the needle on things right now. The time has passed.

Kerry-Ann: The time has passed, but at the same time, there is a little fear there, there’s a little fear, because you feel like boy, who am I? I am not qualified. I’m not a lawyer.

Marlon:Find a friend. Make yourself vulnerable. Go out. Use that pride.

Kerry-Ann: Marlon, yuh know—mi nuh able fi nobody seh nothing to me because oh—the fear of— [Translation:Marlon, you know, I don’t want anyone to say anything to me] –the anticipation of what you feel like people might react to or you think of the harshness of politics. I think that alone—and also reality, most people grow up in Jamaica and are familiar with politics in terms of the violence. There is a apprehension about going into politics for… 

Marlon:You should never be afraid of politics. In fact, politics should be afraid of you. You shouldn’t be afraid of politics. Politics should be afraid of you. And if you are going to be afraid of politics, then you may end up on the menu. You don’t want to be on the menu because people are gravalicious (Translation:greedy) 

and they will take everything that they can get for themselves without sharing or making you a part of the process. So try your best.

Kerry-Ann: Yeah, everybody a grab all the bulla and cheese, bun and cheese fi demself and yuh nah get none (Translation:Everybody is taking all the bun and cheese for themselves and you won’t get any.) 

Wow, Marlon, thank you so much for being on the show. Any last thoughts? Any last advice for anyone listening about whether it’s their identity and how they navigate this world with their identity or pursuing public service? Any last thoughts?

Marlon:Yeah. I think it’s very important that we talk to our kids and our young people about who they believe that they are, wherever they are, and try to help them to have a sense of identity and awareness of who they are. And more importantly, to embrace and to love the value that they bring to their community. And then we need to make ourselves available, more of us. More of our organizations, there are many non-profit organizations in our Caribbean community that are suffering from a generation gap. These organizations are going to die unless there is more communication with pipeline of all the young people that are coming up. So you need to provide a more meaningful and purposeful support system for each other. This is going to allow us to have a greater impact. And if there’s any young person or even any person that’s been here a while that is looking to figure out how they can change the trajectory as to what their impact is, I’m available through this program. Send me a note. Let’s talk it through; is it helping you to apply for your citizenship, is it helping you understand government in a better way, is it identifying resources out there that you may not have thought about. 

The last thing I would say is that you have to make a decision, turn on the light switch that I want to make a bigger impact for my community. I recognize and I humbly say that I don’t know how and I need help because I want to be more purposeful, I want to be more impactful. There are relationships and people out there that, we are there to support you. All it takes is one, two, three or four or five more persons to magnify themselves in terms of their impact. You’d be surprised what can happen when that occurs, when that spark occurs. I’m seeing this opportunity to run for this county commission. It’s going to be a spark where there may be a person of Caribbean descent or Jamaican descent or a person that’s black or a young person, or they may not even have no connection to my heritage, but they may just be inspired by what it is that I want to accomplish. If I can help to spark them into action, big things can happen.

Kerry-Ann: You can’t be what you can’t see or you want to see other people attempting or trying to be in that role for you to see what’s possible for yourself.

Marlon:Exactly. Exactly. Check me out at Follow my journey, which will be happening until August 25th, 2020 and we will see whether or not what we shared on this Carry On program here, has any real time historic impact.

Kerry-Ann: We’ll be rooting for you Marlon, for real. I’m so energized and inspired by this conversation. I hope everyone listening is too, inspired you to act. The inspiration is, you could—after you get off that high, we have to convert that energy into moveable activity. Thank you again, Marlon. As I like to say at the end of the show, walk good. 

Marlon:Yes, big up yuhself.


Kerry-Ann Reid-Brown is Founder & host of Carry On Friends one of the first podcasts dedicated to the Caribbean American Experience. She is leading the way for Caribbean Podcast as the founder of Breadfruit Media, the first Caribbean podcast production company; and founder of the Caribbean Podcast Directory a place to discover podcasts by people of Caribbean Heritage.