Intersectional feminism is a term coined by Kimberle Crenshaw to describe an idea that existed amongst black feminists since the 1920s. Intersectional feminism describes the idea that women are not just women, and exist on multiple planes of oppression. For example: black lesbian women are black, lesbians AND women and cannot engage with one aspect of identity without engaging the other.
[Content Warning: abuse, violence]
In primary and secondary schools in the Caribbean, students are often subjected to vast amounts of psychological and physical abuse. Yet, if you say this and look back on your education with less than adulation, you are chastised. It’s as if you broke some unspoken code, to sweep the abuse under the rug and as is the typical course in our society, protect the abusers from criticism and ultimately, accountability.
I’ve written in the past about how violent disciplinary methods disproportionately target blacker students from poor backgrounds. And I’ve written about how physical violence disproportionately targets male students in our schools. I’ve also taken the time to identify the definitions of both psychological and emotional abuse in previous posts. If you need a refresher, please take one before you continue reading.
Unconsciously, most of us associate environmental destruction as being the responsibility of the poor. Big statement. But it’s true. When we think of ways to cut back on the ways we (West Indians) damage our environment, our focus is nearly always on “education”. Poverty and a lack of education are commonly linked in our collective consciousness. Therefore, when we link “education” as a solution to a problem, we are inadvertently linking that problem to poverty. While this might be helpful for STI reduction or something of that nature, in the case of climate change, it allows our people and our government to turn a blind eye to other problems that have an environmental impact yet fly under the radar.
As sea levels continue to rise in the Caribbean, our region will require long-term planning (ha) and forethought about how certain areas are affected and what the government will do to mitigate these effects. In Saint Lucia, particularly vulnerable areas include fishing villages like Dennery and Anse La Raye. The “village center” of nearly every district, including the capital city, Castries sits right at sea level. This means in the future, these areas will be disproportionately affected by the rising sea levels.
Environmental racism refers to marginalized communities being disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards compared to communities that are not marginalized (Source: Wikipedia Search). First world countries subject the Caribbean region to environmental racism through environmental destruction and notably in St. Lucia via resort tourism and cruise ships. Foreign news sources confirm the environmental impact of cruise ships as being largely negative; the negative outweighs the benefit that cruise ships can bring to the economy. Despite the fact that resorts and cruise ships are known to cause unchecked environmental destruction (including the destruction of coral reefs) we find foreign investors and government officials all too willing to sell our land under the guise of “development”.
But who does this development really benefit?
Buying local goods is something that I have been trying to work towards more and more since I moved back to St. Lucia. I just wanted to write a casual post about how living in St. Lucia has encouraged me to buy less and how I’m doing with my goals to “buy local” and what’s missing. Moving to St. Lucia, I’ve had to say good-bye to a country where everything is always at your finger tips. I’m at the point where I can’t remember an errand taking fewer than twenty minutes to complete. I’d say that I’ve readjusted, right?
Today, I want to write about something that has been bothering me for a long time. Once in a while there will be a period of seemingly nonstop violence in St. Lucia, as I’m sure is the case in other Caribbean countries. For example, during last year’s Christmas season and early January, I could hear multiple gunshots from downtown Castries almost daily. Nearly every day in the news I read about some murder or group of murders that had occurred in the north of the island. Many of these murders happened disturbingly close to my home.
In the wake of such violence, it’s common for the ministers and other government officials to release statements calling for an end to violence. From as early as I can remember, I recall hearing minister, teachers, and other officials calling for violence to come to an end. However, violence still continues today in St. Lucia. All of these calls for prayers and short-term solutions failed to stop the gun and gang violence in St. Lucia.
On the rare occasion when I actually want a migraine, I’ll open up my web browser or my email and see what’s new in Caribbean regional news. Sometimes on Facebook, against my will, I’ll also be exposed to various local news sources. Often, what I encounter stimulates deep feelings of embarrassment and disappointment. I’ve finally put my finger on why that is.
Guest Post Authored By: Kira Ann Buchanan
Co-authors: Jennelle Ramdeen and C.R.W
Being a bisexual counselor-in-training, I feel like I need to utilize my education and privilege to advocate for the LGBTQiA community. Mental health has become a passion of mine that has provided me with an exciting career path. Though I do not live in the West Indies, I’ve spent a lot of time between Trinidad and Jamaica. I have been discriminated against and I’ve also witnessed anti-gay scenarios mostly while in Trinidad. Being a bisexual women, I’ve felt more accepted than many because I have straight passing privilege. I grew up with a heavy West Indian culture, which was also a bit homophobic. I will always identify as West Indian before American. Mental health and lack of resources for the LGBTQiA community within the West Indies is an issue I plan to combat.
I didn’t want to speak for individuals actually living in the West Indies so I did an interview with a friend of mine that lives in Trinidad. She identifies as lesbian and has a wide variety of queer friends. She participates in several advocacy campaigns as well as safe space groups at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. Queer women in Trinidad seem to be the most prominent group that advocate for the community. My friend noticed gay men are not too active in advocacy. She said, “they seem to be too preoccupied partying and liming,” which added some humor to this serious topic. She believes men should use their privilege to help make a change and I couldn’t agree more. It seems like the queer women that do advocate in Trinidad have had the privilege to go abroad and study. They are lucky enough to go back home and live within the upper class of the society. I was encouraged to “take activism in Trinidad with a grain of salt.” There is a generational and gender divide within the community. There is no solidarity.
In the age of viral video feminism and in a world where (some) explicit acts of misogyny are not socially acceptable anymore, misogynistic men have had to adapt. They must adapt to shield themselves from any criticism, to preserve their fragile sense of self-importance and to gain a one-up on the women around them without getting the unfortunate label of “sexist” or “misogynist” slapped on them. As expected, their tactics are crude and it’s not too difficult to see that although misogyny might wear a different disguise, it’s still the same old BS. Put a dress on a pig and it’s still a pig.
If you’re a woman (especially a feminist), you’ve encountered these men and you might find yourself confused, frustrated and generally questioning yourself. Here I’m going to teach you a few ways you can spot these “benevolent” misogynists and how you can defeat them, keeping your self-assuredness in your experiences as a woman in tact. It’s also not surprising that many of these benevolent misogynists apply tactics of emotional abusers including gas lighting and crazymaking. So learning their modus operandi is important to keep yourself safe psychologically (and possibly physically).
Remember, your experiences as a woman are valid. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone who would deny sexism in 2016, the age of Google and the Kindle Store.
Here are five things that “benevolent” misogynists do that you can use to identify them in the wild.
Socioeconomic class influences all of our daily routines in the Caribbean. What we do on a morning (full, balanced breakfast vs. bread and tea), how we commute from place to place (bus vs. sedan vs. luxury four wheel drive), where and how we work (cashier vs. civil servant). Socioeconomic class is not “taboo” in a country where people flaunt even the most meaningless status symbols — from Jansport backpacks to Audi’s on the verge of getting repossessed. But when it comes to women’s liberation as well as LGBT liberation, the majority of people are silent. All of a sudden, class becomes invisible when it might force you to look at a situation from a nuanced perspective.
In reality, your socioeconomic class affects everything. You can’t avoid discussing it when discussing women’s liberation or you will never succeed in true equality. Additionally, you cannot (as a wealthy person, let’s say) take a condescending role of “leadership” over the needs of all women. Being patronizing doesn’t mean you’ve all of a sudden developed a nuanced understanding of what women in poverty need. Try again.
Here are five ways that class is likely to affect your experience as a woman in the Caribbean.