"You're not like the others..."
By Rae Collins on July 28, 2014
Person: Where are you from?
Me: I’m American. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY.
Person: No, I mean your ancestry. Where are your parents from?
Me: Both parents were also born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. My maternal grandparents are from the south and paternal grandparents are from Barbados.
Person: That’s it!! I knew you couldn’t be all Black American; you’re not typical and you damn sure don’t act like an American.
Me: I’m afraid I don’t understand. What exactly do you mean?
Person: Most Americans are on welfare, lazy and ignorant but you’re different; you don’t wear weaves, you have a good job, you’re educated, you don’t have kids and seem to be a genuine person. You’re not like the others.
Me: Ok. I still don’t understand.
This is the conversation that transpires between myself and almost every person I come into contact with – from the Caribbean (mainly those located within the Lesser Antilles St. Maarten/Barts, Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago and lastly Jamaica).
At times, I didn’t know whether to be offended, defensive, non-emotional or just say fuck it and walk away.
Jim Crow is still alive and well but the unfortunate great divide between Black Americans and West Indians still baffles me. I cannot speak on behalf of men but the women I’ve come across, including my wife, I’ve had issues with. To some degree, I still don’t know the full and thorough gist of my history (ancestry line) but there were and probably will always be “a problem”
Is it jealousy or frustration or both?
Black women of the Caribbean weren’t allotted the same perks as Black American women with regards to education and job availability. Our cultural backgrounds were/are/is different. Caribbean women feel they could gain and excel at more things in life and that Black American women waste their talent and resources. It is in my experience that money and status is the drive for the average Caribbean woman and personal/spiritual fulfillment and a passionate career is the goal for most Black American woman. Ladies, it’s not a contest and ones culture isn’t better than the other.
If we all learned and understood our history for what is was back then and where it is now, this problem wouldn’t have a foundation to thrive. We’re competing and fighting ourselves for what? White authoritarians still rule the world!
I am a woman with both southern and Caribbean roots (Black Diaspora) and I’ve never felt the need to “choose sides”. I haven’t then and I won’t now.
Love & Light,
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