Such power, words on paper have. They can change you, in an instant; knock you clean off the ground where you’ve felt pretty good standing. You think you know, but you don’t REALLY know.
I’ve encountered quite a few such experiences in my journey with this blog, but the book I read for Barbados…an absolute lightening bolt of knowledge. I honestly feel like everyone, everywhere would benefit from sitting down with it. The title would help, huh? Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire by Andrea Stuart is what I’m telling you about here.
Ms. Stuart draws a portrait of the history of Barbados via her family tree, which includes European immigrants who came to the island by choice, and African captives who most certainly did not. She fleshes out the story of what those different experiences and circumstances wrought in one particular place, and gives the reader a platform to understand how all of it very much affects the world we live in now, particularly in the Western hemisphere.
The culture that surrounded the maintenance of slavery created a toxic intimacy between people who had freedom and people who had no escape; no one was left undamaged. It fundamentally altered the humanity of all it touched, and we’re still grappling with that today. This book is a step towards real understanding, and I genuinely hope you’ll check it out.
I’ve been at this blog long enough to kind of predict my reading choices before I start research on a new country. When beachy island nations are on deck, it often means travel guides, or books written by expats or people passing through. Nothing wrong with any of that, but not quite what I’m looking for. But! Turks and Caicos delivers more!
Looking Back in Salt Cay: Preserving Our Life, Our History, Our Legacy by Patronella “Peggy” Been is a personal, candid view into life on Salt Cay, one of the more lightly-inhabited islands in the Turks and Caicos group. It’s like a family conversation at Christmas about how life was back in the day, and just the kind of book I always hope to find. Getting a glimpse into the basics of real life – what the houses where like, what people ate, how they shopped, what toys the kids played with – doesn’t happen every day.
Salt Cay’s fortunes have changed over the last 40 years, and the author lives on one of the other islands now. It was hard to even find a usable (copyright matters, people!) photo of that island, so I chose one of the island I was supposed to visit earlier this year…so lovely!