It is not every day that one makes a decision to fly to the other side of the world (well, sort of) to live or study, but, I did just that. I pursued a graduate degree in Leeds, England, which marked the first time I left The Bahamas, for more than a week. This journey taught me a lot about myself. Most of all, it showed me that many people have absolutely no clue about the Caribbean. It was saddening really. Along with the common questioning about what possessed me to leave paradise to study in such a gloomy environment, I was met with many misconceptions about my country and the Caribbean in general. Here is a recap of the most frustrating questions.
- So where is The Bahamas exactly?
- Why don’t you have the Jamaican accent?
- So how is life in Barbados?
- Do you guys even work over there?
My personal favourite was being ran after and asked for weed by a stranger as I was trying to get on a bus. In addition to these questions, I would sometimes come across people who visited one Caribbean island long ago and were now self-proclaimed experts. One of my supervisors at the charitable organization I volunteered at constantly told my peers about the wild animals we had, including poisonous snakes. For the record, there are no poisonous snakes indigenous to The Bahamas.
Even more frustrating was the comparisons some of my African peers made. For example, they’d attempt to be condescending about the fact that Caribbean people only speak English. First of all, there are Spanish, French, Dutch and other indigenous languages including country-specific dialects across the Caribbean. Of course, they did not know this, because they only know the Caribbean to be Jamaica (big ups to my Jamaican friends).
I found myself correcting some who were actually interested in learning and totally ignoring others who just really had no clue. Hopefully, by now they have enlightened themselves. If not, all I have to say is, No, I am not a Jamaican, but yes, we are all Caribbean.
Until next time!