I live in a place...

Posted October 15, 2009 from United States

I live in a place where the people struggle to find their own identity between what the past and present dominant cultures tell them they should be. I live in a place where people are commodities, and it has been that way for centuries. Here, there is a new-age slavery "bend over, touch your toes, show your teeth, lift her titties, exam his balls- damn near sounds like a (dancehall) song, but it's slavery at it's peak"*.

I live in a place where women are the hardest working and least respected. Where sexual harrassment is so ingrained in the culture that most people don't even understand the reason for or the consequences of their words and actions. I live in a place where sexuality, for girls, often is not discovered but rather forced on them.

I live in a place that is not safe for women.

I live in a beautiful place, palm trees and sea. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful people- bodies, mind and soul. Vibrancy and pulse trying to break through the sound of the pre-recorded "caribbean" music playing for tourists coming off ships and planes to discover this exotic land where they have "no problems". I liven a place that those tourists will not see, because they don't hear my girls singing so loud and on a key all their own,because they don't see the tears streaming from Aunt P's eyes as she laughs at every situation because "so it go".

I live in place where the people are commodities, take a picture of them, talk to them like they are a facinating part of this "exotic" culture, try to convert them to your religion, let them play with your "good" hair, but don't listen to their journey and absolutely don't try to see yourself in them because that would be too real. Then you might have to feel something, do something...

I live in this place. Where do you live?

*song lyrics taken from Sunni Patterson's "We Made It".

Comments 5

  • Darcey
    Oct 15, 2009
    Oct 15, 2009

    Hey Sharese

    It has been a while my friend.... thank you for this post...

    I live in a place that the tourists come from. I had a friend once tell me she visited Jamaica, stayed a fancy resort and came face to face with reality when she had to pee so bad on their pilgrimage to Nine Mile, that a lady in the village let her use the outhouse. She left her resort in the morning, and woke up to reality, through the smiling mama with many children and a dirt floor. I live in a place where we all got tired of doing farm work, and started importing men from Jamaica, Barbados, Mexico, Trinidad....the list goes on...to work in tobacco and other fields because kids here just didn't want to be bothered quite so much. There may be other reasons, but really, if we wanted to keep the jobs, we could have.

    I live in a place where people are so worried about how they appear to others that people are forgetting who they are. When a group of co-workers were asked "What is your dream?" 98% of the people there didn't want to tell...or they didn't know...I see women scared of being strong. I see women afraid of being real, of standing for what is right because there may be a price, I see women, but often I can't really see who they are. Living your dream, sharing it, being it, seems to give a freedom to many others to not be so scared of their own.

    I live in a beautiful place I am grateful for, and too often take for granted. I have clean water, a hot shower, a safe place for my children to play. We have access to free, quality education. We have a roof over our heads, food in our fridge, and clothes in our closet. Little things here. Big, having visited the homes of others where we can't drink the water, the shower only comes in cold, and I sleep under a mosquito net because I chose no malaria pills.... what a world. a beautiful, priceless, tragic, awe-inspiring, incredible world.

  • Jade Frank
    Oct 15, 2009
    Oct 15, 2009

    Sharese, your writing is beautiful and so vivid, real and heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing this piece, this portal into the Jamaica where you live. Thank you.

    I live in a place where we take so much for granted. A place where we walk side by side with lawyers, dishwashers, mechanics, doctors, drug addicts and social workers. Where people celebrate culture, yet stare at someone of color. Where bicycles equally share the road with cars, and where education is at the bottom of the political agenda.

    I live in a place where people wear business suits by day and studded leather jackets at night. A place where entire Christian church congregations celebrate a union of gay partners and proudly display it to the neighborhood. Where people pride themselves on voting for the first black president of the United States of America, but protest the re-naming of a major thoroughfare from "Broadway" to "Cesar Chavez".

    I live in a beautiful city where spring brings more flowers and blossoms that you ever thought possible. Where hundreds of people ride their bikes in a naked parade, and others run for women in the Congo. Our city is filled with educated people who have masters degrees, but wait tables because they make more money that way.

    I live in a city that is known for its excessive amount of cafes, and its excessive amount of strip clubs. Where strangers smile at one another, but ignore the hungry because it's easier to look away. Here, when it rains we are gloomy and when it's hot we are cranky. Where people can truly be themselves, but often struggle to have an identity. A place where pristine nature is minutes away by car and where at least half the people you know are in a band. Where sweet blackberries are overgrown and roses flourish. I live in a place where hundreds are flocking to, but with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

  • Maria de Chirikof
    Oct 16, 2009
    Oct 16, 2009

    I live in a place that is so vast and so breathtakingly beautiful and where, unfortunately we also have lots of natural resources... Where the rights the natives have are constantly having to be fought for since it has to compete with others greed and sports fun... Where the natives are seen as a "problem" to be taken care of by our own state government, who for years has been hand in glove with those who want our resources. Where we had to listen to chants of "Drill, Baby, Drill" and know they would ruin our landscape and not care if it hurt it or the people here so long as they could mindlessly consume for a bit longer...

    So, I really feel for you and what you are going through as a peoples! Hopefully we can awaken more to this type of thing and it can be addressed fairly and honestly. Keep the faith and we will get there slowly but surely! So many are waking up and speaking up that things are changing, however slowly it seems to those of us living under the oppressions.



  • TeenaMiller
    Oct 24, 2009
    Oct 24, 2009

    I have learned to live by the walk that makes me comfortable - I have learned not to walk another's walk but to respect their stride, to admire their balance, and to work to keep my balance.

    I have been given many experiences and each time I ask myself "what lesson do I take away this time?" I have learned I can only take care of me/my needs and then when others ask I can help/I can navigate/I can console

    I have raised two strong women who are raising their own strong, independent women. Who are learning to walk their own walk and trust their own path. It is a marvel to watch- I am blessed to see it.

    I live in the San Francisco Bay Area-where there is natural beauty/incredible diversity and incredible gluttony and I have lived here all my life-where magic enters my world every day and I love it here.

    And now into my world has entered my first grandson - truly unique in my world of all females-I do believe he will teach us what maleness is and we will teach him what equality is-he already will learn from his stay-at-home-Dad and my grandson's mother-my daughter will return to work Dec.1 while Dad remains home to look after my granddaughter and new grandson. My daughter will return to her family practice and practice her amazing Naturopathic skills.

    So how does one live on the line, keeping one's balance? Keep it small, breath in, breath out, drink pure water, LAUGH.

  • Cara Lee
    Nov 05, 2009
    Nov 05, 2009

    I live in a place where I rarely invite anyone to visit because I'm embarrassed by my outdated kitchen with the industrial gray carpet, until I go to a place where hundreds of women spend the day because they have no home. I live in a place where I love standing under my warm shower, but turn it off when I'd rather linger, because I live in a desert, though people forget that it is.

    I live in a place where the snow falls in beautiful heaps one week, and I finally meet the neighbor down the street because he dresses up as Santa Claus to walk through it. I live in a place where the following week the snow melts in gorgeous sunshine and most of my neighbors don't know each other anymore.

    I live in a place where I seek and find communities of people who dance together, discover books together and teach each other how to write stories. I live in a place where people often don't respect each other's stories, and believe their opinion is so important they must shout everyone else down.

    I live in a place where I bike to my errands as much as I can, because I know burning fuel contributes to global warming. I also live in a place where I fly in a plane to see other places, which helps me learn more about the world and other people, but which also makes me one of the worst polluters on the planet.

    I live in a place of commanding mountains and vast plains, of impatient sunrises and luxurious sunsets, of healthy, easy-going people, of quiet writing alone and laughter in front of the TV with my husband, of a sleepy book in my hands at night. I live in the hope that I can someday put sleepy books in someone else's hands that will tell them to cherish and protect it all, from what's inside their hearts to the farthest reaches of what they consider their place.

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