โ€œ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ๐˜น ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ๐˜ถ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ฑ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด – ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ด, ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฆ๐˜น๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜บ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฉ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ๐˜ถ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ.โ€ โ€• James Baldwin

What was the last book you read that reminded you of yourself?

When I was in high school, my parents paid for me to go on a class trip to Europe. On the trip, I had my first real taste of a world that was culturally different from my own. 

Cover of Crick Crack, Monkey by Merle Hodge. Photo taken by @IntrovertInterrupted on Instagram.
Cover of Crick Crack, Monkey by Merle Hodge

Upon my return home, I couldnโ€™t stop talking about this trip, & I found some way to always tie the conversation back to what I had seen while I was away. Fed up, my father finally told me, that he hadnโ€™t sent me there to come back & question he & my mother or the life they were providing for me. 

I was stunned. In my mind, Iโ€™d only been sharing my observations about the vastness of the world. But to my father, I had presented my observations in juxtaposition to the life he & my mother had provided me, & this was akin to blasphemy to my proud African-American parents. This experience mirrors Teeโ€™s awakening in Crick Crack, Monkey by Merle Hodge.

Author, Merle Hodge
Author, Merle Hodge

Published in 1970, Hodgeโ€™s novel is celebrated as a significant work in the Caribbean Literature canon. Set in Trinidad, Hodgeโ€™s story is a coming of age story of Tee, a young girl who is shuffled between two auntsโ€™ houses. Teeโ€™s Aunt Tantie and Aunt Beatrice represent the working & upwardly mobile classes of Trinidad & Tobago, respectively, & both vie for a chance to raise Tee & shape her views on the world.

While this novel is not โ€œaction-packed,โ€ it made me think of how forcibly โ€œwhitenessโ€ gets thrust upon Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. We as minorities often never question ourselves or our cultural traditions until weโ€™re sent to be educated in White spaces or come in contact with a White person who strips us of our humanity.

Watching Teeโ€™s views of places she loves unravel as sheโ€˜s forced to try to move closer to an ideal of wealth & whiteness thatโ€˜s ever present on her island helped me began to understand why my father rebuked me waxing poetic about Europe so long ago. 

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