I finally got up the nerve on July 3 to take the first jab of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Caribbean immigrant nurse Sandra Lindsay bravely took the first ever COVID-19 shot on December 14, 2020.
Like another brave Caribbean immigrant, Alexander Hamilton, Lindsay proved in 2020 that immigrants from the Caribbean are more than willing to serve this country and put their lives on the line.
For that bravery and commitment to America, the Jamaican-born Lindsay was, on Friday, July 2, 2021, presented with the “Outstanding American By Choice” award from President Biden, on behalf of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The honor came two days after Caribbean American Heritage Month ended along with Immigrant Heritage Month. Biden honored Lindsay as he presided over a ceremony granting citizenship to a diverse group of immigrants to celebrate the 4th of July holiday weekend, adding that she “represented the very best of us all.” Sadly, while he recognized Immigrant Heritage Month, he failed to acknowledge that June was also Caribbean American Heritage Month too, and that Sandra Lindsay is undoubtedly a Caribbean immigrant.
The media, taking their cue from Biden, also failed to acknowledge this part of her immigrant story in America.
Lindsay, 52, immigrated to Queens, New York, from Jamaica in 1986 when she was 18 years old. She worked a few odd jobs before becoming a nurse’s aide and moving on to earn a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s degree and a doctorate degree, and her citizenship. Lindsay is now a director of nursing for critical care at Northwell Health on Long Island. She is also a grandmother to little Avery.
Lindsay received her second dose on Jan. 4. but she sadly lost an aunt and uncle to the virus.
It is fitting that her COVID-19 vaccination card, hospital scrubs and the badge she wore on Dec. 14 “will be included in the Smithsonian’s National Museum American history exhibit on COVID-19.”
On Instagram, she posted: “It was an honor to be presented with the @uscis Outstanding Americans by Choice recognition by The @potus. Today I represented two very important groups of people. #immigrants who have contributed and achieved so much in the #unitedstates, the land of possibilities and opportunities, and #healthcareworkers #essentialworkers #firstresponders who courageously fought through the #covid #pandemic. I share this recognition with all of you! Congratulations to all newly naturalized U. S. Citizens who took the #oathofallegiance today! @northwelllife @northwellhealth.”
I had hoped Sandra Lindsay would also have shared the honor with Caribbean immigrants everywhere––the too often dismissed, ignored and overlooked. Sadly, like Biden and the media, she too did not.
But we congratulate her for this honor. It is truly deserving. All Caribbean immigrants and all Americans should be proud of Sandra Lindsay’s courage and bravery. All Caribbean immigrants should also proudly use whatever platform they are lucky to stand on to tout their cultural identity and region. It is what we must do in order to ensure we begin to get the respect we deserve for our presence in America since slavery.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow