Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 18th 2015 Contents A30
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, May 18, 2015
From Page A29
How are we supposed to deal with it?
It s a simple issue. Reparations, just like Eman-
cipation, was not just a black issue. At Eman-
cipation, the white people living in the society
felt it wasn t their business. In fact, quite the
opposite: their business had to be fixed even
though Emancipation was going on. That was
one of the first places where we went wrong,
because we could have formed a society, an actual,
more integrated, society. The challenge now is
Sisyphean: you do something and it comes tum-
bling back down. I can understand the difficulty
someone of white skin, or someone considered
white, would have. But it s our society and that s
the cards we re dealt and we really cannot shirk
that. I come from a place in St Lucia where you
literally don t see the white population: they
don t participate in culture; politics; nothing;
[their national participation] is only economic.
And that s a mirror of all the islands.
The white West Indian who's kept
himself rich for generations is actually
more impoverished in more important
ways than poor people?
[Nodding] Exactly! Because the poor people
are actually part, have been forced to be part,
of the society.
Isn't it odd that, apart from the poorest
of the poor, we don't live in our capital
We run from our capital cities! I was com-
missioned to write something for a guy who
was doing an anthology about capital cities
around the world. It took me so long to write
about Castries. And eventually the poem I
wrote was a very, "I hope this place will send
an ambulance when I m sick and a hearse
when I m dead".
Is being short important to your
character as a writer?
I think being short gave me a big mouth.
[Laughs] The short people I know all have big
mouths: either they talk loud or they actually
have a lot to say. One of the beautiful things
is I have an even shorter wife! So, for the four
years I ve been married [pauses, smiles broadly]
I feel tall!
Growing up, I think my opinions made me
feel taller than people around me; not a lot
of the guys would be talking about things I
would be talking about. Always, with my
friends, I d kind of step back. I knew there
was a perspective I couldn t share in that
space. Now, I share it. Homosexuality is one.
Who could come, in my friends circle, and
say anything positive about homosexuality?
But now I say it to them.
There's another human rights issue?
We still have that, almost a cultural, sep-
aration. I grew up in a house where, for things
like colds and skin rashes, I was never accus-
tomed to pharmaceutical products. Even now,
I just go and pull a leaf! My wife s cousin is
a pharmacist and he was talking about people
taking bush and having things happen to them.
But the people with the power, the people
recognised as the medical practitioners, are
to blame for this.
Just like everything else, if you have some-
thing happening in a submerged form, when
you start to address it is when you can really
have a conversation about it. But they com-
pletely ignore it! Just like homosexuality! You
have people going about their lives but nobody
who is heterosexual will come out and say
something about that. I m not saying we have
to rely on the person in power all the time --
but it helps! That s one of the ways you can
help your society move forward, if you are
part of a privileged group. You can come and
speak on the part of the people. But nobody
wants to threaten their privilege, even if it
means you come just one step down the ladder.
But I am an optimist.
In fact, you're an idealist, or you wouldn't
be writing to change the world?
Well [laughing], there s Naipaul!
Do you think we can save ourselves?
I think we can. But, even if we can t, there s
nobody else but us to do it. YOU are the centre
of the world and YOU need to do it. Or the
world could literally go to shit. And don t believe
a Heaven will come about. You need to deal
with this world. That s why I valued CLR James:
he recognised that. It s up to us, really.
On being short, Lucien says, "The short
people I know all have big mouths: either they
talk loud or they actually have a lot to say."
PHOTO COURTESY BOCAS LIT FEST
'Opinions made me feel taller than people'
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