new luggage and a reservation at a hotel located on the beach. Once there, I ate my fill of
ackee and salt fish, drank too much rum punch and listened continually to my beloved
reggae. I ignored the “real island people” unless they were cleaning my hotel room or
serving my meals. My long vacated family home was not ached for or even thought of. I
was a stranger to my birth place; a true visitor to the island. I felt perfectly content in
keeping my past at arm’s length. Hadn’t I worked hard to lose my accent, to act and
speak like a Yankee? Wasn’t I now considered American? I removed my heritage like
an old ragged overcoat that once covered me in shame and humiliation. Words from
childhood taunting still echoed in my mind: Her parents don’t speak English they
speak coconut. Look at her lunch, why does it smell so funny? Who dressed her this
morning a blind clown? I raced to escape my culture, made myself over into
a newer better version. I am no longer the little girl afraid to speak in public; no
longer the child afraid to eat her lunch in front of others. In public I am a real American.
Behind closed doors my speech and culture remain, as it always will be, West Indian. In
the end I belong nowhere. Not to the island that I so easily gave up, not to a country that
will never truly be mine. I am nothing but a fraudulent historian attempting to rewrite a
past that can never be changed.
Arlene Antoniette is a lover of all things beautiful. Lacking the skills of an artist, she turned to the written word as her tool to express and release her emotions. Arlene holds a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Psychology.