Mamá made some remarkable statements that today would be considered racist. “Fold in your lips and pinch up your nose” mamá would tell us.
We also had to look nice when taking family pictures. A person with thick lips and a flat nose, was and still is, considered by some as ‘black and ugly,’ as opposed to thin lips and a sharp nose. Regularly, we would find mamá pinching up her sharp nose as that was and still is considered beautiful by some. I clearly remember us walking around with wooden clothes pins on our nose.
Speaking of ‘Zwarte Piet’ and ‘Sinterklaas’ being related to racism and discrimination; the Caribbean is a melting pot of multiracial ancestors with African, European, and Asian roots. Our multicultural and intercultural faces of colors also make the Caribbean the land – or I should say the hand that rocks the cradles of racism and discrimination. “Yo’ blacker than me,” and short kinky hair is ‘piki hair’ looking like ‘salt and black pepper grains.’
Many Caribbeans shamelessly make these remarks, considered as ‘jokes’ about each other. Any born and raised Caribbean who dares to pretend otherwise is either ignorant and/or in denial.
The Vanterpool’s, mamá included, love to brag about their heritage. I ran into an article in Saban Lore by Will Johnson of Vanterpool of Dutch descent, a Saban family of sea captains in the year 1900.
In this chapter I relate my story of Aruba Village North where I was born and partly raised from my perspective. During several phases of my life I felt shame and embarrassment about the place where my cradle stood. Even as a young adult I didn’t want to be identified and associated with the village and its impoverished lifestyle. However, as I’ve matured, growing older and wiser both spiritually and mentally, I can now loudly proclaim that I’m not ashamed of the village where I was born!
As a matter of fact, I take pride in sharing this part of my past with the world! Later in life, as a teenager, young adult, wife, and parent, I enjoyed and embraced material abundance and prosperity. The first four years in any child’s life is where the foundation for adulthood is laid. With humble gratitude to my parents and late grandparents, I thank God for the solid spiritual foundation that was laid, based on high ethical morals and values, money can’t buy.”
From “Go Ahead, You’re Home” – The Caribbean Dream with Grit & Guts
A true and poignant story of forgiveness, hope and love. Mountain-moving faith with a burning desire determined to succeed. Read the full story.