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Posted: Friday 21 September, 2007 at 10:46 AM
    An integrated look at the factors which define the Caribbean woman’s identity
    By Claudia Liburd
    Nevis Reporter -
    Melissa Giddings
    Who can define the Caribbean woman? To do so would be to limit her essence to mere expressionless words. To truly define the Caribbean woman, it is my belief that one must first experience
    the Caribbean woman.
    It is from this backdrop that I sat to talk to various women from across the Caribbean but who share one commonality in that they reside in Trinidad and Tobago. They shared their views on their perceptions of the Caribbean woman and also their experiences as members of the melting pot culture of Trinidad and Tobago.
    Hailing from St. Michael, Barbados 19-year-old Nikita Morris explained her belief that the islands of the Caribbean cannot afford to be a singe entity. However, she expressed the need to embrace the Caribbean woman as a representation of all Caribbean nations rather than focusing on an insular local view.
    “The Caribbean woman is strong and she is vibrant. You can’t define a Caribbean woman because there is so much in Caribbean people that make up the Caribbean woman. What you find in a ‘Bajan’ woman you will not find in a ‘Vincy’ or a ‘Trini’. While there may be differences there are also distinct similarities. If you want to base defining a Caribbean woman based on those similarities then we can take pieces of the different Caribbean women and merge them to create the ultimate Caribbean woman”, said Morris.
    Nikita Morris
    She continued, “The Caribbean woman has established her independence in that she is a major force in the world of work and men are now falling back where the woman is coming forward because she has established herself in such a way that she can take care of herself, her family and still her husband too. She is strong, she takes care of her children, carries herself with poise, she is intellectually sound and she stands out from women across the world with her uniqueness.”
    While we focus on the Caribbean woman as a representation of the region at large we must also think of the concept of pride and the Caribbean woman as a symbol of pride in regional accomplishments. Nineteen year old Jevene Christom originally from Claxton Bay, Trinidad further elaborated on this view.
    “I think that pride is a major part of the Caribbean woman. Some people associate the Caribbean with being inferior but I think that it is our duty to be proud of where we come from and of our heritage. As opposed to the Western World people may feel that we are not self sufficient but it is up to us to prove them wrong and show them that we are independent, self sufficient women. ~~Adz:Right~~
    “We are Caribbean women and we are able to balance our work life with our family life. Some may have children and a husband to go home to but they still handle their duties without bringing in hired help. They instill positive moral and spiritual values in their children in their formative years to carry them through life”, said Christom in relation to the role of the Caribbean woman in raising the family.
    Further, sharing these views was 24 year-old Mellisa Stacey Giddings originally from St. Lucia who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts at the University of the West Indies. She explained her dimensionless view of the Caribbean woman as the adhesive which bonds the family structure together.
    Janelle Edward
    She said, “There are so many definitions of the Caribbean woman to me. Firstly, she is a mother, whether she has born a child or not. She is a teacher, an educator, a friend, the girl next door
    but I think what defines the Caribbean woman is who she truly wants to be, whatever that is and just being comfortable with who she is and accepting herself”, said Giddings.
    She continued, “Once the Caribbean woman is content and as long as she is comfortable with what she is doing then so be it. There are many stereo types about what a Caribbean woman should be based on what we have been taught and what has been handed down by our forefathers and parents but my definition of a Caribbean woman should be the woman who is comfortable in her skin, who is proud of who she is, what she has become and what she will become. One, who has basically set her own goals, set her own boundaries and has her own dreams.”
    As I further travelled the archipelago I came across 24-year-old Janelle Edward originally from Castries, St. Lucia who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of the West Indies. She brought these differing views of the Caribbean woman together to describe the Caribbean woman as the embodiment and personification of Caribbean culture.
    Edward said, “Being a Caribbean woman to be is being rich in culture because Caribbean women are known for being the bearers of their histories, ancestors and their roots. The Caribbean woman is strong and independent and able to carry the title of mother, wife
    Jevene Christom
    , and sister while still maintaining a professional outlook in the global world.”
    “We also adapt and appreciate the culture of our sisters in neighboring islands. We learn their colloquialisms and dialects cook their cuisines and still share in cultural exchange wherever we go and that I believe is the true essence of a Caribbean woman. I believe that the Caribbean woman is not the dream woman but she is a real woman, the backbone of every Caribbean society”, said Edward in ending the interview.
    I conclude the same way that I opened, by asking the question: Who can define the Caribbean woman? We are all Caribbean women and by highlighting our thoughts and experiences we offer some semblance of definition. However, one cannot define the other and we merely seek to outline our views.
    Personally, I feel that one must experience the Caribbean woman before one can seek to define her. One must see the delicate curves of her strong body, hear the loud resonating tone of her voice as she beckons her children and smell the aroma of her good home cooking. To truly grasp the context of the Caribbean woman one must feel her soft caress and taste the sweetness of her bare caramel, chocolate and vanilla skin.
    She has been battered and abused and labeled in terms of hyper sexuality but by refusing to carry these categorizations the Caribbean woman has risen to become the epitome of strength and grace. The Caribbean woman is multi-faceted and as such is the backbone of our society and the adhesive that keeps the family structure bonded together and also by extension the various nations of our region. She personifies Caribbean integration and is the embodiment of Caribbean culture.  Who can fully define the Caribbean woman?
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