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.
Dashikis made an appearance as a fashion item in St. Lucia. I don’t know much about the cultural origins of dashikis, except what I’ve read from articles about African cultural appropriation and what I’ve heard from Africans (from various different countries). Wikipedia provides a simple breakdown for those of you who are curious to know more. Dashikis were at the center of a minor social media controversy in October 2016 on Jounen Kweyol in St. Lucia. Many people argued over whether or not dashikis were appropriate attire for Jounen Kweyol festivities. The debates were… interesting (and at times uncouth) and brought to light different perspectives and anxieties about black heritage that exist in the Caribbean.
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.
Happy New Year dear readers! It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. I was on vacation for a part of the past month or so, and then I spent a lot of time re-assessing my business (not my blog, but my primary source of income). As such, I neglected this blog, despite my desire to maintain a consistent posting schedule.
I’m considering alternating posts between social analysis and “lifestyle” posts about what it’s been like living as a young self-employed person in the Caribbean. Both subjects are interesting to me, and I want to expand a bit of this blog’s “brand” too.
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.
Content Warning: suicide, transphobia, homophobia, sexism, abuse, mental health issues
Yesterday was International Men’s Day and I wanted to write a post addressing men’s issues but not in the way that you think. As someone who has called herself a feminist for years and been in many “arguments” about feminist issues, one of the common derailments to women discussing the social issues that affect them is, “What about the men?!”
So what about men?
Why are women responsible for solving all the social issues that affect their lives as well as the social issues that impact men as well? The truth of the matter is, men who derail with this kind of statement don’t actually care about the social issues affecting men. It’s simply an affront to them that women would dare question the status quo or would dare defy the existing social hierarchy in any way. It’s the weak attack of a threatened animal but luckily for you, there are ways to disarm this…
[[Before you read onwards… I encourage you to read ALL the posts linked in this blog post. Most of them I link for a reason and I want you to check them out to further your learning. — MGMT]]
Christianity and conservatism are diametrically opposed to each other. Yet, by asserting the word “God”, conservatives and their ilk twist the language of the Bible to suit their need to brainwash the population into supporting their definitively un-Christian agenda of discrimination, domination over people and natural resources and large-scale abuse of human rights. Fundamentalism has become acceptable; with the acceptance of fundamentalism comes a normalized absence of empathy and ethics in favor of dogma. The goals of the American right have infiltrated the minds of people throughout the Caribbean. This threatens our way of life as well as our proclaimed values of integrity, compassion and love.
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.
A week or two ago, I came across this headline in St. Lucian news “Teenage Inmate At Bordelais Correctional Facility gives birth”. Unexpected, jarring and indicative of a number of social issues that are worth discussing. While the trend of mainstream feminism leans towards empowerment and other buzzwords unsupported by action or empathy towards the women who suffer most, there are clear feminist issues within our culture that an article such as this one brings to light…
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.