FMM 2 10 2023 Embedded

‘The pen is mightier than the sword, but the tongue is mightier than both of them.” ~ Marcus Garvey.

It may be an advantage, or a disadvantage, but ever since I was seven, I have lived in countries and cultures that were not mine by birth.  Moving from the UK to Jamaica at that age meant that in no time I adapted, free from any preconceptions or biases as to what my life should be like.  Rather than feeling uprooted, torn away from the life I knew, I felt free to enjoy, explore and discover my new home.  The greatest gift of that life was that I did not grow up feeling ‘other’, even though I stood out in a crowd, white girl going to school on a country bus; white girl playing baseball on a playing field full of Jamaican country kids (by the way, I was lousy, I had poor hand-eye coordination, but was tolerated none-the-less).

I lived in Jamaica until I was eighteen, with the exception of one year when my father took those of us still at home (I was the youngest of five) to the UK while he went to graduate school.  Now I had the chance to go to a school where I did not stand out in a crowd.  Everyone looked like me.  And boy did I feel strange.  I could not relate to my peers. The school, the uniform, the rules, the weather, all felt weird.  And although I made friends, I could not wait to return to my country school, my tropical downpours, my night life that was more noisy creatures than bustling city.

The same thing happened when I finished high school in Jamaica and returned to the UK to study nursing.  That was my choice.  I was prepared to live the rest of my life in Jamaica, but didn’t want to live my life thinking ‘what if…’.  Was there a future in England for me?  Once again I looked as if I belonged, but felt like a fraud.  From the outside I was as British as fish and chips, but I never knew when my patois would ‘bruk out’ instead of my almost English accent. 

I have now lived for almost 45 years in these United States of America, exclusively in South Florida. I joke that this was the first place I did not feel unusual, because I was always in the company of other nomads who were not born and raised here.  At any time, in any room, the majority of the people would have lived elsewhere before coming to South Florida.  For once my story was not strange.  And yet it was not home.  There was so much to get used to, from language, to types of (and names of) food. Everything was bigger, glitzier, shinier, more gaudy than anything in England.  Everyone was noisier, more inquisitive, more open that I was used to.  Again, based on skin color I may have appeared to fit in, but internally I was constantly adjusting, monitoring my environment, watching what I was saying. 

To this day I feel as if I am a guest, a temporary dweller in this land, even though I have American born kids and grandkids.  Which means that I have a right to have an opinion about the world I live in, a responsibility to point out injustice, disparity and hypocrisy where I see it.

What has our state come to, when the gun culture has more rights than a set of books?  When teachers can be told by politicians what they can teach?  Where history has to be taught selectively in case the truth of the country’s inhumanity hurt the feelings of those who descend from the race that benefited from the destruction of the Native Americans, and the enslavement of Africans?  How have we come to this? If I have a child or a grandchild who is different (for whatever reason), should that child hide who they are, subject to bullying and emotional trauma, all so that one group of people can feel comfortable?

We are living in dangerous times when men feel it is not unreasonable to ask young female athletes to report on their monthly menstrual cycle.  Can you imagine?  Whether it was the right approach or not, the last thing I wanted, when I was a teenager, was for anyone to know when ‘my auntie from Red Hills’ was visiting.  Which reminds me of the time when, in one of those mixed message ways, my friend mentioned the movie ‘The Dirty Dozen’ and I thought she was referring to her period, so from that point on that was all we ever called it!

There is a point in time, when people who are developing dementia are still cognizant enough to wonder: ‘Am I going mad?’  I swear, sometimes when I hear the news or read some of the stories of these times, I have to wonder to myself, is this country going mad? How is it ok for us to have allowed politicians to do such damage to the truth, to open acceptance of all, to the ‘othering’ of whole groups of people? 

When that former guy, the disgraced, twice impeached you know who somehow became the voice for too many, I was sure that there would be a swift and powerful push back from the vast majority of decent, loving, conscientious people.  Don’t worry, I naively thought, his bigotry, his prejudice, his ignorance will be too much for right-minded people to put up with.  There will be a backlash.  But as Martin Luther King Jr., reminded us, the arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.  Sometimes it seems as if that justice is too far away for my liking.

We must speak out, we must protest these inhuman acts, even when it feels as if they don’t directly affect us.  We must support all groups of people who are subject to discrimination, to isolation, to ‘otherness’, for they will come for us too. 

I give thanks for a life that has permitted me to see things from the point of view of others, being able to identify with those with whom an observer might think I have nothing in common.  Being raised by parents who never permitted me to feel better than anyone, for any reason, allowed me the humility to observe and learn from all of my teachers and situations.  It helped me to hold my tongue and listen to the stories of others, knowing that unless I walked a mile in their shoes, I could not begin to judge them.

This Friday morning I hope you can make noise wherever you observe injustice; I hope you can listen out for the quiet voices of the oppressed; I hope you can help us to create a new community, one where everyone has ‘an equal right to live and be free, no matter the color, class or race he may be’.  Have a wonderful weekend, Family!

One Love.



  1. Thank you so very much for this, Beth! I love all of your messages – but this one is truly amazing! Would you be willing to write a blog for Regardless, let’s be in touch on email soon … and set up a time to zoom and re-connect!!

    1. I would be honored! Please let me know the guidelines.

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