In Prospect Heights, the Fourth of July wasn’t necessarily all about burgers, fireworks, and American flag-themed paper plates. Wayne Pierre’s plans included barbecuing at his sister’s home in Queens and watching the city’s many fireworks. But if you catch him before the Fourth, as we did, and asked him what he expected to be barbecuing, don’t expect to hear all about burgers and hot dogs.
The afternoon’s staples? Rice and beans and oxtail, “and yea, burgers, hot dogs,” he said, as an afterthought.
Wayne Pierre is a bald, medium-dark-skinned man with an oval face and gray, wiry eyebrows. His mustache and goatee have almost fully grayed and his round clear glasses hide subtly wrinkled eyelids. Pierre was born in Grenada and lived there before immigrating to America in 1982.
Prospect Heights used to be home to many West Indians, like Wayne, but “the neighborhood has changed a lot,” he says, his lips turning downward. Wayne is referring to the rapid gentrification that has been taking place over the latter part of the decade. In place of the West Indian majority are young Caucasian professionals hoping to take advantage of the neighborhood’s new, trendy establishments.
While Wayne Pierre was looking forward to his Fourth of July feast, his favorite part about the holiday is spending time with his loved ones. Wayne Pierre will not only be celebrating with his sister, but also with his two male relatives and his mother, his other sister, and his aunt. The family doesn’t always go to his sister’s house; some years they go to the beach. But they always celebrate together.