Finding Sorrel in Russia

I was about to sit down to have some tea with a lovely group of ladies. They offered me a few choices of tea: chamomile, herbal, chicory, and carcade. Chicory reminds me of dandelion tea which I drank a lot in my youth. And at this point it was my go-to choice whenever offered, but out of curiosity, as always, I asked about the carcade. It’d never came across the name before. One of the ladies handed me the bag in which it had been package.

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My heart skipped a beat. It looked like…my beloved sorrel. Sorrel juice is a staple on every table in every home in the English-speaking Caribbean at Christmas. The plant we bear fruit in December once it’s above ground no matter. In an attempt for more sorrel my mom and grandmother usually plant it in October or November. In December, the tree gives its fruit, which is never eaten. Instead, the leaves/petals are removed from the centre. The red petals are then frozen for later use or boiled. When boiling a bit of cinnamon is added, and sugar can be added at the same time or after it has been strained and cooled.

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This happens every Christmas, unless there is no time to plant. And in that case we buy it from farmers. In any case, the frozen sorrel is treated as a treasure, stored in the freezer for the moments during the year when the craving for sorrel arises. Sorrel blossoms only bloom in December, and they are sold fresh i.e. only in December.

Wide-eyed and slack-jawed I take a few moments to gather myself. I ask about the origin. I am told that caracade is from a flower. A flower? Sorrel isn’t from a flower, I’ve never seen any flowers on it. But maybe they said flower thinking I wouldn’t know the word for plant. So I ask about the flower. I am told but I don’t know the word. One of the ladies says the flower should she on the package. Yes, there is a flower…a hibiscus… It’s..not…sorrel. Disappointed, I inform them that I’ll have my usual, chicory.

My first impression doesn’t leave though, and I make a mental reminder that I must look into this matter for myself. How could this little Antiguan child who picked sorrel, peeled sorrel, strained sorrel look at something that wasn’t sorrel and think that it was. If you’ve never peeled a sorrel this might sem strange. But a sorrel, let’s call it a fruit. A sorrel fruit has prickles on its petals and center. So for most of my childhood I tried finding ways to peel it without getting the prickles into my sensitive fingers. The prickles aren’t big, but they make your skin itch and that is not pleasant especially if you are peeling as much as a large shopping bag or multiple. It’s take you quite a while, more than twenty minute, more than thirty minutes…of itching.

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How could I mistake “hibiscus petals” for “sorrel petals”? I know what a hibiscus looks like. They are one of the most widely planted flowers on Antigua and so I knew they, pink, red, orange, kind white.

I forgot my mental reminder as I do most things. And then I’d see carcade and have a fleeting memory about the reminder.

But this week, I had a desire to have a taste of home. I could make my go-to Caribbean drink, ginger beer, which is non-alcoholic, and not carbonated. Ginger beer is also made at Christmans time, however it’s also made on other holidays such as Lent. But for some reason I wanted sorrel drink. And so the reminder dregged itself up and I searched for “sorrel russia”. Google informed me of sorrel soup…? But the focus was the leaves from the branches. I dug into that and couldn’t find any images of the fruit, even when I removed the word “russia”. I decided to add “jamaica” because to most of the word it is synonymous with “caribbean”. Denotatively, it isn’t. Google tossed me “roselle”. And Google Translate said that it was the same in English and Russian, and the it reconsider and gave ‘carcade’ as the corrected translation.

I was so happy, so ecstatic. So I bought one today, and having forgotten the entire issue with the hibiscus being on the bag. I see it yet again, as I sit at home revelling in the thought that I will have chilled cup of sorrel drink soon. I am apalled. Did I just waste money buying hibiscus petals for sorrel?

I’d searched form English to Russian it was time to do it in reverse. “Karkade” > “carcade”. Google is so helpful, sometimes. I google “carcade”. And he shows me the words “Hibiscus drink” captioning a photo of a glass of iced red liquid beside two sorrel fruit. And I am happy and thoroughly confused because…where is this unfounded claim of the drink being from hibiscus come from. Wikipedia told me. The latin name of roselle, the actual name of the plant is, Hibiscus sabdariffa.

Why would you use the latin name of flower which is never refferred to by its latin name, especially when that name is already associated with another flower. My point is, the flower on the package of Karkade is a ‘hibiscus’. but that is not the flower that’s inside..I think…I have to make the drink first.;)

 

*The sorrel plant does bear flowers, which do not resemble the hibicus. And here they are.

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Sorrel plant with fruit and flower

 

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Hibiscus flower
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Independence!

Today , the 1st of November 2018 marks the 37th Independence Day of Paradise (Antigua and Barbuda). I’m missing it for the fourth time. Every year it saddens me that I’m not there celebrating this occassion that I am not soaking up the atmosphere of clean fun, calypso music, local food with patriots young and old. I’m not just missing the day. I’m missing all the activites surrounding it. I’m missing all the culture gathered around this holiday. I missing what represents to me the most authentic side of Antigua, the most authentic side of me.

I missed Independence at home such much that I bawled in 2015. It was the first holiday that I missed and it was two weeks after I arrived in Russia. I hadn’t known that Independence meant so much to me before that. I began thinking about the reason. And it was quite easy for me find it. I had been to all the Youth Rallies in my childhood. I participated in it once as well. Youth Rally is the parade held on the last Thursday in October, to which all or most of the schools on the island send student squads to march. In other words, a parade for schools. It is televised every year and every year we fill the stadium to watch the parade for about three hours. I love it. It sounds strange perhaps. But it is exhilarating to me. You look for the uniformity of their movements, and scrutinize the sameness of their uniforms. (In Antigua and Barbuda, we wear school uniforms. So I could tell b looking at the image below, that that squad is from the Antigua Girls’ High School. (This is their dress uniform, for your information. Their regular uniform is a blue pleated dress, addorned with a navy blue collar and belt to be worn with black/navy blue socks, and black shoes.)

 

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ripped from wadadlipen.wordpress.com, owned by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda

The next day, Friday, is National dress day. We do have a national dress which was assigned as such after a competition was held and the winner announced as Heather Doram one of our renowned artists in 1992. Some people wear the national dress in its original form while others modify it to their liking or simply use the madras from the dress or the colours from our flag to make something entirely their own. Let’s have a look at them, starting with the flag…because it’s the most important.

Antiguans and Barbudans are extremely proud of their flag. I don’t know why but we think it’s one of the most beautiful flags. We often brag to each other about it not just having to coloured lines and such. It’s simple but we really love it.

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The 1992 winning design for National Dress is pictured below, and it is the image most used when showcasing the Antiguanand Barbuda’s National Dress. It isn’t mine, but I also know it doens’t belong to anyone on the internet, let’s just assume it’s Heather Doram’s property. I’ve been seeing this image in books and on ABS (the local TV channel) since I was a child. Why did we only get a national dress in 1992. Independence cam in 1981, and 11 years later a dress. I think that’s rather quick considering that there are always bigger things to consider when you’ve got a country to run. Additionally, the natives of Antigua and Barbuda are descents of displaced people. Displace people still maintain their culture, you may say. Well, it was a toss up between keeping one’s culture and keeping one’s life and humanity. After some 300 years you expect a national dress to be one of the aspects of culture to be maintained when people are trying to teach themselves the Queen’s English, trying to be considered human, trying to recive treatment as a hman being, and trying to get paid. That sounds a bit defensive…

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Antiguans and Barbudans have a way of appreciating things to a point of making it so much their own that it’s something entirely new. That has a negative and a positive side. But let’s just get into the beauty of national dress sort of …

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A little snipping here, and little adding there…

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We don’t just modify clothing we modify songs, poetry. Whatever is handed to us can and most likely will be modified. It’s one of the core aspects of Antigua and Barbuda.

I returned home this summer, and to fight the tears of Independence 2015, 16, and 17 I brought two flags, a yard of madras and cloth adorned with the colours of our flag. This cloth is used to make decorations for just about everything including trees along the street in St. John’s (the capital). I feel less sad. I feel closer to home somehow. I miss it. But on this blessed Independence morning, I am not sad. And there are no tears wating to fall.

I hope that the weather is perfect today. I hope that Althea Mack’s homemade icecream is found by some youngster, enjoyed by the elders not just for the taste but also her use of the icecream making bucket from way back when. I hope shash-dumplings are eaten in delight and our music is played loud so that this culture feels renewed, refreshed and thriving in the hearts of all.

Happy 37th Independence Day, Antigua and Barbuda!

Listening Freed Me

So today I spoke with someone and it was really a freeing experience because I’ve been feeling really stressed and really trapped for a really long time and let’s just say I’ve been depressed. I just keep sinking deeper, and deeper, and deeper. Last month I began doing things, a lot of things, to go get my life kick-started. At this point…well before I arrived at this point, before this conversation which I had today I felt as though I was dying from everything that I was doing not, not from the depression. I don’t have any time for myself I’m basically hardly have time to even sleep. I hardly hardly have time to do my homework or to do anything fun. The only things that I decided to continually take on were things which were necessary like a project which helps people, Africans specifically, to be informed about student-life in Russia, helping people who want to learn English whether they are Russians or any other nationality. I haven’t been doing anything for instance, someone asked me to go for a walk around the lake that’s just outside of my dorm about 2 months ago and I have yet to go on that walk because my Sunday’s aren’t even free.

But today I arrived early for a meeting after doing a favour for someone and after completing another appointment. So I thought I would sit for a while because after this meeting which I was there for I would have another pause which would get me from one place to another and then give me enough time to do my homework before I walked into an extracirriculum class. So this was the only time that I would not be doing anything. I was supposed to be writing but I wasn’t. And then this conversation started and it was a beautiful conversation. This is one of those types of conversations that I missed having for a really long time. It didn’t start out being one of those conversations. It started really mellow with “How are you?”, “You have a daughter?”, “Why do you wake up at this time?”, or it was the other way around and then all of a sudden we weren’t talking about mundane things, we were talking about school systems, literature and our thoughts, perceptions of it, and authors and their lives. We spoke about Edgar Allen Poe… Well he told me about Poe. He told me about a lot of things, and he let me ask whatever I wannted, and then he just…answered them. It was just so much fun. At the end of it he said “Thank you for for listening”. I had actually been listening and as I was it felt as though something had been removed. The weight that I’d been carrying had been removed and I felt so good. I felt free.

I Am Going to Lose Weight…the Correct Way

At 9 years old I walked into a tailor’s shop. I’d done this many times in my life. (My family has always had clothing made. I never knew how much it made life simpler for someone like me with larger than life hips.) But this was different. It was my first graduation. A primary school graduation, rather pointless but still somehow important. A month before, the measurements for the dress had been taken and we were here to try on the dress and make small adjustments if necessary. But as I stood there, I could get the dress on. It turned out that I had stacked on about 9 kilograms. That big of an adjustment could not have been made. I decided to lose the weight. I had two weeks before the graduation. I lost the weight by going on a diet for the first time. The diet was me eating as little as was possible and drinking a lot of tea at night to combat the effects of not eating. I was successful but that opened the door to me using this method for most of my life.

At 16 years old I decided that I liked the way my body looked, checked my weight and made a promise to maintain that weight indefinitely. I was about 80 kilograms. I was successful for quite sometime. Since 9 years old, whenever I focused on my weight I would visit the scale multiple times of the day. I could tell you what I weight before eating, immediately after eating, and after a meal had been digested. I was on the scale a lot. I got rather relaxed about my weight at 18 years old because I’d partnered with my boyfriend on a business venture which required me to walk most of the day. After I pulled out I realized that I was almost 90 kilograms. I immediately went on a diet, and since I didn’t have a job or anything else to do. I resigned myself to eating one pack of noodle per day and Lying in bed. I lost the weight. But I wasn’t trying to fight the effects of not eating. I wasn’t drinking tea or water for that matter. When I tried standing to go to the bathroom I would blackout for a short while. Luckily the room is set up in a way that allowed me to not get hurt when I fell. It was a small room. When I got to 72 kilograms my mom said that it was too much. I stepped on the scale and thought I was fine. So, I began eating again but was cautious about my weight gain. I was able to keep my weight at 80 kilograms for several years after that. Until last year to be specific.

I was doing the old eat a lot but only when I feel as though I’ve been duly starved which means I would skip a few days. And then last year happened. I stayed with some friends in a village outside of Tomsk. I was fed extremely well. But as I worked on an overdue project I didn’t do anything else. In other words, my days were eating, and sitting before my laptop writing and editing articles, creating, editing, throwing out, and executing ideas. In that time I manage to get to the 90-kilogram-mark again. But I’d learned that whenever I thought I was fat I would subconsciously begin dieting or starving myself. So I didn’t think about it. I made an effort not to think about myself in that way. I thought that I would lose the weight by simply returning to my regular routine, which is eating irregularly.  But after a years, I’m still at the same place. I walk irregularly as well but that hasn’t help.

When I returned home this year I had a talk with a cousin who focuses a lot of her body, and we broached the topic of me not wanting to lose weight but rather to gain muscle. And it was noted that one weighs more than the other. Now, being weighty with muscle is good. But I would rather weigh less.

So I’ve decided to lose weight. It will and already is a challenge. Simply eating breakfast is a challenge. Honestly eating in general is. I generally don’t fee like it these days. And when I do I want healthy option  but you have to make those for yourself because people like meat, and a lot of oil and sugar in their food and it’s basically impossible to find place that delivers food that checks every box, and then that makes me also not want to eat. So I have to cook… I like cooking…alone…with no one around…in an extremely clean environment. I live in a dormitory. Where is this magically going to appear? It’s not…but I’ll find a way because I’ve only got until December 28, 2018.

The food isn’t all though. I’m not that motivated to workout because my energy and motivation are both low most likely due to my lack of nutrient-intake. But I’ll work on it. I also get bored easily. I worked out with weight for three months and got bored. So I’ll have to find engaging activities to keep me going.

I want to do this. I am finding it difficult to visualize. But I am moving forward nonetheless.

Tips and tricks are welcomed.

A Taste of Russia

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taken from livestrong.com
Food is one of my favourite ways of experiencing the cultures of others. At times it can be the most potent aspect of a country or city. While learning about about different countries, and their languages, food is always on the table, because it’s just that important. So when I decided to learn more about Korea, I took to their cuisine. I tried Korean cold noodle soup, kimchi, and kimbap. I made pickled radish, bought canned chili tuna, and even pre-packaged black bean noodles. I’m a little adventurous. So when I realized I would be going to Russia I became excited about the opportunity to have a go at Russia by food. But I’m Caribbean, and more so, Antiguan so I thought the best place to start would be asking Antiguans who’d already had, and were living through this opportunity.

“I only eat their KFC.”
But that’s not Russian food, I thought. And I asked again and got “I don’t like their food.” What? Was this going to be me too? Would I be living in a country for five years and not be able to share the gift of food between us? Would I be living in Russia, but outside of the culture?

I got to Russia. And I again the international students about the food. They too were living on the ‘safe’ side?
A Columbian would try authentic foods from China, Vietnam, Mongolia, Japan, Africa, Spain, Antigua, and Venezuela but never taste Russia. All these foods sound amazing. They are! But I came to Russia to experience it in its fullness, so I decided to taste Russia for myself.

Food, is edible art.
Sitting in Krasnoyarsk, Russia I pushed a forkful of mashed potatoes into my mouth. Before tasting it I knew it would be different simply by sight, because it was puree, pureed potato. How could this thing be so thin? Was this for real? Of course it was. But where Antigua says add a little milk and mash, Russia says add a lot of milk and blend until smooth, and then add more milk. This is my understanding from having eaten “mashed” potatoes in various Russian canteens.

But the creamy white potatoes tasted like home. I could even taste…a little garlic? I ate other mouthful. There it was again, garlic. I cut in the meat patty anxious to know if it was just the potaotes that would be similar. It was a tasty, homemade, chicken patty. But beyond that nothing stood out. Where was all the fear-inspiring difference. I hadn’t found any and I was ready to begin my journey into the world of Russian foods.

Across the distance
Russian food is like any. How it tastes depends on who cooks it, how they’ve cooked it, and at times, your mood towards both. I’ve eaten in canteens, restauants, from supermarkets, at church events, and in the homes of friends. The distance between these varying artsists is wide, but the artists remain apart of the world of Russian cuisine. I will try to showcase the similarities, and difference in Antiguan and Russian cuisine.

Similarities
Seasoning
The main similarities between Antiguan and Russian cuisines are the seasonings. Among the seasonings used in Russian cuisine are: garlic; parsley; dill; bay leaf; black pepper; and cloves. These are also typical seasonings used in many Antiguan dishes. These seasonings make many of the Russian dishes seem more acceptable, less like new dishes and more like acquaintances. Russian cuisine also makes use of spices such as ginger, coriander, cinnamon, saffron, and myrtle grass. These are known but aren’t used as much in Antiguan cuisine.

Comport
The Russian drink, comport, is also made using heat and is a lot like the process for making tamarind juice, if you do so by boiling that is. The difference is that tamarind isn’t the fruit being used. Instead there are a whole host of others including apples, peach, and berries. In canteens and restaurants the juice is served without the fruit, in homes and at some events they swim around in your cup or glass and you can eat them or leave them.

Sweet things
After moving to Russia I decided to cut meat, oil, salt, and sugar from my diet. I was eating raw salad, fruits, healthy soups, and feeling quite good about myself. I would eat out occasionally but these now and then bits didn’t affect my eating plan. And then I was introduced to Russian pastries.

These fantastic dough purses were stuffed with fruits, thickened sweet milk, and jams. The textures varies greatly from crispy, to flaky, to cloud-like fluffy. This is where my no-sugar rule bent and eventually broke. I began with one pastry every Friday, then two every Friday, then a bag every Friday, then a bag every Friday with a box of juice. Friday moved and I haven’t really seen its borders since. I try to resist sugar in my tea when I can…and it works sometimes. But I have no problems with pastries. I eat them.

There are also a host of traditional Russian sweet breads and biscuits, buns, and, candies, marshmallows, jams, and halvah too. I eat these with delight too. The familiarity of these sweet and salty foods allowed me to feel more at ease in experiencing the new, and there have been many.

The differences
I’m still hungry.
The main difference you’ll probably notice in Russian cuisine is that the foods are much lighter and the servings are smaller. Dumplings filled with potatoes and meat, or vegetable sounds like a more filling all-in-one. But these morsels boiled, fried, or baked are just morsels, and one must eat quite a few, i.e. twenty or more, whereas three or four white dumplings will fill an average person. The soups are tasty but also light. They contain carrots, cabbage, potatoes and such but no dumplings or flour components.

Bread
Bread is a constant on the Russian table, at every meal. This includes breakfast where porridge maybe the main. If there’s no bread on the table someone will be sent or volunteer to buy it. This can be considered as the flour accompaniment. At first, I thought it was a little outrageous. At first I didn’t touch, and outrightly refused it. And then I gave in for the sake of politeness, only eating it by itself. And finally I’ve become accustomed to it. I expect bread on the table. I’ll help slice it as well, because I eat it with my meal, shoving a piece of bread into my mouth right after a spoonful of almost anything. And the truth is, it doesn’t taste bad once you’ve got a tasty bread.

But don’t assume that every Russian eats bread at every meal. Many Russians do, and some don’t, some may even voice a dislike of bread. Nonetheless it will be placed on the table for those interested, and you may even be encouraged to take a slice.

What with what?
Smetana
One of my favourite food combinations is Russian sour cream, Smetana, with everything. This sounds strange and it is. Why would I put Smetana in the chicken soup? Why would I put it in any soup really?

Smetana is milk but slightly thicker with a somewhat sour bite. So again, why would I pour milk in my soup? I wouldn’t. But as I sat at this family’s table and stared back at the two small girls (3 and 7 years old) and their parents, whose united expressions were a mixture of politeness and shock due to my eating the soup without Smetana I decided I would try it.

I spoon a little into my soup from the bowl which sat in the middle of the table. I look at the little girl to my left. She looked back at me and then silently directed me to mix the Smetana into the soup as she did. I followed, and smiled at her, cleared my mind and lifted the full spoon to my mouth. It was delicious.

Of course the taste had been changed but it wasn’t for the worst. Today, once I have the opportunity, I eat half of my soup first and then spoon and mix Smetana into the second have. It comes close to eating two dishes at once.

Beetroot
Beetroot is one of the most used roots across Russia. It can be found in salads with cucumbers and dill, and herring, and soups with carrots and tomatoes.

You’ve mostly likely heard of borsch, one of the most well-known Russian soups, but perhaps you’ve never thought of making it yourself. It is a light soup which utilizes beetroot as its main ingredient. The rich red colour of the beetroot makes it one of the brightest dishes I’ve encountered, and the sprinkling of fresh parsley on the surface, makes it look like Christmas in your bowl. It is a good introduction to russian cuisine, so I’ve decide to share the recipe, which you can find at the end of this article.

Herring
There are also new food combinations like a salad of herring and layered, boiled vegetables, called herring under a fur coat. I was very displeased to find out that I would have to fight with the bones in this fish while eating my salad at a New Year’s dinner. I was even more shocked to find out that the top layer was of grated beetroot mixed with Smetana.

How it’s done
Sometimes as with the mashed potatoes, the difference lies in the technique or even the length of time food items are cooked. In other words, two soups could be made with the same ingredients using the same instructions, and still be of different textural quality due to the length of time they remained on the fire. In general vegetables in Russian soups are soft while those in Antiguan soups require the use of teeth.

Both cuisines make use of boiled dumplings. The taste and texture are far a part. A dumpling in Antiguan cuisine is heavy and flour-packed, in Russian cuisine it is a thin layer of flour wrapped around a tablespoon of filling, be it potato or meat. In Russian cuisine, dumplings can be served as a solo dish and also with meat and other vegetables.

We eat with our eyes
Before eating Antiguans critically assess dishes, and therefore also try to display the food in a manner that would tease the palate. To do this various colours can be noted, and a lack of colour in dishes are usually a minus. Russians eaters seem much less concerned about this aspect. I ate a dish yesterday which comprised entirely off white ingredients, spaghetti, potato and fish. It’s not an official dish, just something thrown together to make a meal. But where many Antiguans would add a carrot, or some other anything the lack of colour is acceptable for a Russian. But its addition is noted by Russians, when it is present, and sometimes praised.

Embracing it all
These differences and similarities together have made the experience of Russia by food a more intriguing one. It has been fun eating borsch, a soup starring a vegetable, I detest and never thought I’d eat willingly, and herring under a fur coat, which includes beet yet again was another tasty surprise.

Throughout all of my firsts I was confident because of the shared seasonings. I knew that there would always be a similarity to the food I call my own, even if the similarities were, at times, fleeting. And I have been pleased to find it so. By using the commonalities between our cuisines I’ve been able to experience more of the Russian culture.

I’m Human Too It Seems

Sometime ago I realized that my leaving home has allowed me to grow a lot more than I thought or even dreamed. I am a big girl. I’m tall. I am also bigger than your typical model, or actress, which if I’m honest says nothing really. Those gals are petite. I am 5′ 9″ (179cm) and 196lbs (89kg). As such a mammoth being, which is how I felt due to my thighs being referred to as elephants, pythons, big things, huge, and massive, I was restricted from doing certain things, and expected to do others. The bigger you are, the stronger you’re expected to be.

For me this translated as being more masculine. Because I’d be expected to help out where others of the same gender and age were allowed to stand aside. I wasn’t offered the same kindnesses, because it was expected that I already had a handle on whatever I was supposed to do. I grew into this role, and generally don’t expect anyone do anything for me, and I also feel uncomfortable when someone tries to help me. It just feels unnatural…like having someone open a door for me causes a slight crawling in my skin. It’s not fear. It’s just discomfort. The discomfort has reduced to a slight crawling in my skin, before it was something else. I would hold the door for myself despite the person holding the door for me. I also felt insulted as wondered if the person thought I was weaker. So I’m making progress.

My size doesn’t come in cute either. In my world if you’re big, then you can’t be cute. You can only hold the title of “trying to be cute”. I got that a lot. But in Asian countries and those nearby “cute” doesn’t have that close of a connotative reference to “small”. Because of this I’ve been called “cute”. My actions, my words, the small things I do are freely described as “cute”. No one cares that I’m usually a tower in comparison to them, and carrying more girth. That for me is really freeing. I get to be weird…different in my own way. I get to be me. I get to create who I want to be because there is space to push in all directions. Because of this I’ve let more of myself out into the world. I’ve let more of more “cute” out of the doors. I’ve let my laughter be. I’ve allowed my humour to develop. Not everybody gets it. But that’s not the point. The point is that I’m allowed to make the path I’d like.

This freedom has given me a way to be my authentic self. There are no templates or set molds. I just do me, and whatever I do will be labelled as me, not as something that people with my characteristics share. I like that. Along with the freedom has come peace which has inspired me to become less angry and more open-hearted to others who I had damned to eternal indifference. It’s amazing how much this has changed me. To be honest it has left me with that feeling of just being human, not being a cute, mammoth, black, humourous, or any other type of human. I just feel human, and more accepting of others, and that for me is interesting but odd. I thought getting freedom would mean feeling more me, more individual. But some how by becoming more me, and happier I’ve come closer to the collective.

My Spirit Is Waking Up

I’ve been living a rather sheltered life. I was born on an island which is predominantly black. There are things which it lacks, like Whites looking down on Blacks, and extreme financial divides between social classes. To be honest I wouldn’t really say we have classes. There’s a general co-existence between everyone. Some might even say that everyone exist on a level which would be remiscient of the “middle class” in class-divided countries. So I never felt inferior to another race. I didn’t feel beautiful but I didn’t feel less than anyone due to the colour of my skin. My family includes persons of various shades. And each of us were treated the same.

However, as the world becomes more divided I’ve noted more and more people become lightere and lighter. My little brother’s experience is the climax for me. He comes home with stories of people telling him he’s dirty or that he’s ugly because he has very dark skin. I hadn’t realized that in our society people were so outrightly vocal about their dislike. He was still rather young when it began and I decide that I would do a project focusing on persons with darker skin, showing their beauty and renting billboards. The renting of billboards would be too expensive so I was searching for a better way that would get reach the widest audience in Antigua. I got sidetracked and the project lagged, and then I moved to Russia.

Today while I was on Facebook I saw a post by BBC in which a female Belgian news reporter spoke of her experience of people sending hate-filled messages about her skin tone. She isn’t as dark as my little brother. And that got me thinking about how he might be feeling, and how others like him might be feeling. There are many good role models like Viola Davis and younger ones too. But I want it is still not enough. So I’ve been inspired to go back to the drawing board and make that project come to fruition before the end of the year. I have an Antiguan photographer in mind, Chavel Thomas. I actually just bought his book tonight and the images he’s done shine through with the beauty I want portrayed. However, his book includes nudity that might not be accepted by a lot of peple and that was his focus.

 

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taken from shopdotkidartexposed.com

 

I also considered doing it myself, but I’m not sure if I’d be the best person. I do have some training in photography. But that isn’t my forte. Additionally, Chavel has a following that could push the project if…when…it’s completed. And I consider that a really big plus. I don’t want to have to show my brother. I want it to be in his face. I want him to feel loved. I want the people around him to feel bombarded by image of beautiful dark skin models living life…beautifully.

Yeah. That’s it.