Mami Where Are You?

i am a feminist. This is a bad word in the Caribbean, but I have grown to care little for appearances.
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i am a feminist. This is a bad word in the Caribbean, but I have grown to care little for appearances.

My mother openly dislikes feminist, she equates the movement, with the ‘rabid-dyke’ feminists who ‘hate men’. She considers them all middle class wanna-be’s and a discredit to the female sex, and a variety of other shit, that really is a sign of ignorance and not real understanding of what feminism in the nineties is about. You know the funny thing is i admire my mother so much, but she’s changing before my eyes. She used to be this heavy rootsy woman, who believed in so many things, and whose friends spanned the range of society, rastafarians, gay people both male and female, and artists and writers, musicians, and all the bohemian cast outs, that West Indian society leaves by the way-side.

When i locksed out my hair, she threw an awful hissy fit, and harrased me for the entire year that i had them. In the end, she threatened withdrawal of financial support, and a variety of other things, that encouraged my decision to cut my hair (she thinks that it was her threats that got my to cut my hair. The truth is, i was tired of them, and they were only an experiment to begin with). So where is the woman who painted (her greatest work to date) a Messianic Rasta man, that currently hangs in my house?

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My gay, lesbian and bi-sexual friends are as important to me and my whole life dynamic. i love them like they are my flesh and blood. These are my friends. Yet my mother has ridiculed gay people, particularly lesbians, even though i have told her, that when she insults gay people in front of me, she’s insulting my friends, and by extension my choice of friends, and my judgement, and a whole political thing i am not getting into here, because i’m talking about my mother.

As a child, she raised my brother and i to be a proud of our African descent. i was weaned on heavy Afro-centric discourse, and Descent culture. Was exposed to these things my whole life. It’s something i am proud of. And while i claim all of my heritage, Amerindian, French Creole, Venezuelan, Portugese, Scottish & Jewish ancestry, i was rasied as an African, and that’s my #1 priority with regards to my loyalties. my mother won’t call herself African anymore. She says “….we’re French Creole”. (We are, but we all these things as well, at least i am)

When i left Barbados to go and live in Trinidad, my mother was still open-minded and spoke to me constantly about not judging people. However, it’s like in the three years since then, she has become a middle-aged West Indian, with all those middle aged West Indian conservative bullshit, that i didn’t think my mother was about.

Where is my open minded free spirited mother, and what has West Indian society done with her! i miss her so much. When she starts on one of her tirades about gay people trying to take over the world, or on her other shuttered veiws, i just shut off, i go ‘uh huh!’ , ‘um hmm!’ in the right places and don’t get involved with in an argument with her, because i find it a waste of time to try to convince people who insist on ignorance that they’re in the wrong place.

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It’s like she’s another person, and i feel the rift between us, growing wider and wider. The generation gap is yawning. While i have great respect for her, as the strong proud woman that she is, i have realised that she’s a different person than she was when i was a child, and still in my formative years. i thank her for my upbringing, but i wish iI could raise her now the way she raised me.

Where did the path diverge for her. Is she going backwards spiritually, or at the very least staying on one spot? This is all very disturbing to me. Will i become like that in twenty years. Will iI become an old foggy? i hope not. i see myself as a salty, irreverant, loving, fierce, open person. i don’t want to ever judge someone based on their sexuality, their hair, their politics (except racists, black, white, jewish whoever. Racist politics and thoughts are stupid, and not worthy of the breath to speak them), or anything that makes them different to me.

i don’t want to ever feel that i am superior to anyone or anything. My only goal in life is to reach a spiritual place where, all these human labels, and discourse are unimportant. i want to take my mother’s hand and tell her, “Fear is not something to control your life. It’s a choice. Become comfortable in your skin and it will disappear. Come with me, where people are people and don’t think of them as different. Love is the goal.” But she’d probably look at me funny and say, “What shit it is you talking about, girl? Let go my hand!”


N'delamiko Bey (formerly Lord), is a writer, journalist and former Associate Editor for The Trinidad Guardian and a twenty year web development veteran. Her writing has been published in newspapers and magazines across the region, as well as in CAPE textbooks. She is The Sunhead Project's founder and Publishing Editor.
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