Independence Day Reflections 2018

This month in Saint Lucia, we celebrated 39 years of Independence. This year, Independence Day celebrations differed from many years that I’ve experienced. This year, I noticed many people waving our flag from their cars and in general, the expression with national colors seemed to be at an all-time high. We love symbols and symbolism here — from the crucifixes we wear around our necks, to carrying Jansport backpacks at school, to ensuring that your friends and neighbors know that you drive the biggest and baddest car.

What do we find when we observe these symbols? What’s there and what does Independence mean?

How often do we ask that question? How often do we ask whether or not we’ve truly “made it” out of colonial oppression?

We take to symbols because symbols are easy. Attend church instead of doing good. Buy an Audi instead of saving your money for the future. Cover up a priest’s inappropriate actions rather than standing up against pedophilia and misogyny.

Don’t let symbols be a scapegoat for lack of depth.

Power continues to be consolidated in the upper class. The wealthiest are more often than not, of the lightest hue. Our people are hungrier than ever and more desperate. Women, children and the elderly face social, psychological, political and physical violence at the hands of people in our country. Human trafficking and drug trafficking both thrive amongst us, free citizens.

As new hotels further our ecological destruction, our people are forced to work there for little pay due to a lack of choice. Our “independent” government actively supports the destruction of our National Landmarks and continues to childishly lash out against organizations like the National Trust who have the best interests of the country in mind.

But we choose the symbol. We choose to be “apolitical”. We cannot make this choice however as our very existence as formerly enslaved people is political. When you move through the world as a black man, or a black woman, or a biracial person, your existence is political. Politics affects everything in your life, whether you are aware of it or not.

Denying the importance of politics is a cop-out. We choose to bury our heads in the sands, denying our own capabilities as the survivors of enslaved people who led multiple successful revolts against the wealthy European colonizers. Our ancestors razed plantations to the ground — they didn’t celebrate their grand opening with a selfie.

We buy flags instead of engaging in political protest when we should be doing the two in tandem. We wear our national colors instead of changing how we interact with our communities. We can do both! We deny responsibility for the “political” because we’d rather watch someone else get the job done. But the job never gets done. The very politicians we rely on are the upper class that abandoned us for their creature comforts and fat pockets.

We are all culpable. We are all guilty of choosing symbolism over action. Perhaps it was bred into us, but now we all have the choice to change.

Will we approach our 40th Independence Day with even more excitement, but even less substance?

We can’t allow this to be the case.


I’d like to write a small note here to thank everyone this year (2017-2018) who supported the Saint Lucia National Trust, Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia, United & Strong and other organizations doing grassroots work in Saint Lucia. Your contributions are recognized and acknowledged. Thank you for working towards making our country a better and more equal place.


Online activism is a hot mess to me these days, and I’ve largely lost interest in 99% of the activities that I was once interested in. This is just a reality of increasing responsibilities and a shifting of my energy to activities I believe serve me better.

If it isn’t local feminist groups sharing videos suggesting that “I am Chris Brown” is a “movement” for black men to join, it’s homophobia, classism, or something else. Frankly, it’s exhausting and I no longer have the energy or proclivity to have “discussions” with people who are unwilling to educate themselves on the basics before assuming they’re correct.

There are a number of contemporary resources for educating yourself about feminism in the Caribbean, my blog included, and of course, scores of books, many of which I’ve already listed previously on my blog, or I’ve linked throughout my previous posts.


Mobility Issues Reduce Women’s Accessibility To A Secure Future

When I went with my boyfriend to renew his Saint Lucian passport in downtown Castries, we climbed five flights of stairs to get to the top. Taking the elevator would have still left us with one or two flights of stairs to get to the office where passports are issued. Public buildings in Saint Lucia still leave a lot to be desired when it comes to accessibility. If it isn’t ramps positioned at 75 degree angles, it’s a lack of elevators or proper accommodations for physically disabled people.


LGBT Tuesdays: Anti-buggery laws

Striking anti-buggery laws are not a big priority for West Indian politicians, despite the fact that these homophobic laws are relics of a hateful past. We are willing to hang onto harmful colonial ideology as long as it’s homophobic. Politicians do not even see it as a priority to protect LGBT citizens from violence.


Men’s Issues Monday: Male Victims Of Rape/Abuse Deserve More.

CW: rape & abuse

Male victims of rape and/or abuse deserve more than being used as a “trump card” to invalidate women’s issues. Men who do not care about male victims of abuse love to point out that men are also abused as a tactic to divert attention away from discussing women’s issues. These people do not care about women. (I bet you already figured that out!) They feel annoyed that women have the gall to discuss their social issues and their entitlement to be at the center of attention at all times supersedes their empathy for male victims of abuse or rape.


Race, Class & Caribbean Feminism

Discussing race and class with regards to Caribbean feminism can be tricky. The mythology of our islands being a racial “melting pot” has led to many people wrongly believing that we have no issues of race and class or that these issues are irrelevant to feminism. The fact that there are many wealthy black people in the Caribbean has confused people.

Despite the fact that there are wealthy black people and despite the fact that there are many black women, issues of race and class are still of utmost importance to women’s issues. When thinking about race and class, we need to focus on systems of oppression, not our individual, anecdotal beliefs (many of which are informed by misinformation by international mainstream media).


Women’s Wednesdays: We Need More Than ‘Empowerment’

Empowerment is one of those subjects for feminists that sounds like a good idea in theory and of course since the entire focus is on feeling good/strong, it can be a compelling “focus” for feminists. Caribbean feminists, however, should be focused on anything but empowerment. Empowerment is a feeling, an idea, a notion. Empowerment is nothing concrete and tends not to have any real long-term measurable impact.


LGBT Tuesday: Caribbean Feminism & LGBT Liberation Must Be Unified

In the Caribbean, there’s a strong sense that feminism and LGBT liberation are two separate issues. However, I worry that this separation is less for practical reasons such as different needs from society and the community. I suspect a large portion of the separation between Caribbean feminists and the LGBT community is flat out homophobia.

Think I’m wrong?

Hear me out…