A Black History Month Thought by Gideon St.Helen

Gideon St.Helen is a St.Lucian friend who now lives in San Francisco with his family. I have featured him in this post "The Man With The Guitar." Whenever Gideon updates his status on Facebook, it's hard not to 'like' and such was the case this morning.  ... And I'm sharing it.

A Black History Month Thought by Gideon St.Helen

My Black History month thought for the day stems from the following two true conversations: 

Conversation with random Black guy: 
Black guy: "Where are you from man?" 
Me: "St.Lucia" 
Black guy, with blank stare: "St.Lu..cia...? Where's that?" 
Me, looking frustrated (heard that too many times): "Caribbean..., near Trinidad,...no?....Jamaica!"
Black guy, looks all happy now. Everyone knows Jamaica: "Ohhh! Jamaican mon! Y'all have that good stuff down there mon, yeah mon!" 
Me, exasperated (thinking): no dude, I don't! smoke weed, never have! 

Conversation with random White guy: 

White guy: "Where are you from? 
Me: "St.Lucia" 
White guy, with excited look all over his face: "Really? Wow! We just came from down there. Beautiful place. We sailed around the Pitons...What are you doing in this cold place? You should be enjoying the sun down there!"
Me, smiling..."finally!" 

Black history goes beyond the geographical borders of America. In fact, Black history existed beyond America, before America. Therefore, to know and to have a deeper sense of appreciation for our "complete" history, we must look outside these four borders also. Don't tell me you've never heard of St.Lucia! Yes, you know about Jamaica but is your knowledge just limited to Bob Marley and "weed"? Do you know of the maroons in Jamaica? What about Haiti's Toussaint Louverture? Trinidad's great Prime Minister, Eric Williams? Did you know that the only instrument invented in the 20th century is the steel pan, in Trinidad? And just a thought, why is this instrument embraced more by your White counterparts? What about this cool fact: the first person of African descent to win a Nobel Prize in a field other than literature or peace is Sir Arthur Lewis, from St.Lucia. It was in economics! Not to mention the other Nobel laureates, Derek Walcott (St.Lucia), V.S. Naipaul (Trinidad), Saint John Perse (Guadeloupe). 

And just maybe, your great great great great great grandma was from St.Lucia. If you know your history you'll know what I mean. 

Look beyond and you will be enriched tremendously!

 

2 comments

  1. Love this!!! So true to many extents.

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  2. But as much as I want to and do my history of the Caribbean. More than a lot of Caribbeans themselves, (as I find quite a few especially the big islands do not look at smaller island's history) I feel kind of rejected. I know so much about St Lucia, from the language, I cook the food, I know the history etc because my mum is St Lucian but when I go there people including my friends treat me like I'm a complete foreigner. Its frustrating, I was not brought up in a bubble so I don't like when people treat me the same way they treat an English person with no roots to or understanding of the islands.

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