Archive for the ‘character’ Category

ImageToday, still in the West it is IWD. I woke up in the East with some resignation, accustomed as I am to experiencing this day as one in which the sisters gather in small groups and say the things that we say to each other on every other day.

But on facebook, reflections from the wise and committed much larger community:

Svenn: It’s Inter/Outer-national Women’s Day! Ask yourself… Can she take a walk at night? Does she get equal pay for equal work? Can she access  the best reproductive and sexual health services no matter her income? Add more questions here… If the answers aren’t looking so good, just work on it. I am sure we can all find a few organisations working these issues and more.

Keshan: I love my feminist sisters ….who are working towards ending all forms of violence and oppression against women and girls! Let’s celebrate our feminists in society who are the ones in the struggle to end such oppression! They are working toward a positive and beautiful society to live in!

Liana: International Women’s Day is not so much happy as bittersweet. It is a day to help bring awareness to a cause that doesn’t often have a voice, because it is about a group of people, who don’t often have the chance to speak out. Today is about the women who don’t have access to education, reproductive rights, rights to their own opinions. It can be trivialized due to the fact that many people treat it like a big ol’ girls only valentine’s day, but in reality we should be focusing on the women who got us where we are, being grateful for how far we have come, and thinking about how we can be like those women who gained us our rights.

Michelle:  ..economic empowerment for our women, means less starvation for the world love and light

CARIMAN:CariMAN takes this opportunity to call on all the governments of the Caribbean to take a stand for improving women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services as well as respecting the rights of women to safely control their reproductive lives. CariMAN further urges our governments to protect women from the unequal treatment they receive in the economies of the Caribbean. …CariMAN remains committed to working in partnership with men, women and all groups who share a deep concern for ensuring the full recognition of women’s rights in the region

Vashty: It’s International Women’s Day! What have you done to to aid in changing the country or the world or your little part of the world (family, friends, fb friends) to help them understand that women and men must have equal rights and equal access? Or that women are not just boobs and butts and pretty faces but thinking, doing, achieving, amazing people who have equal rights to rule the world!

Jacqueline: When all women can believe that we are connect, can you imagine what an awesome world this will be?

Yao: My wish is that we carry International Womens’ Day beyond today, to every day after, into perpetuity. I love you mum.

 Aja: While not dwelling on the negative today, particular concern for me is the continual escalation of violence against women and girls around the world – the majority of times by their spouses – by the men in their lives. I plea, therefore, on this day that the World commits to eliminating violence against women and girls.

Alex: Women’s Day you say? Hoorah! For the young women of Barbados I say BE YOURSELF and KNOW YOUR VALUE at all times.

Crystal: Feliz dia internacional de mujer…en solidaridad! And for those who continue to bemoan the need for the day; please educate yourself on its origins and evolution. IWD shines a spotlight on the achievements of women and girls globally, contributes to invaluable discussion and spurs action which advances the agenda of empowerment and equality and facilitates opportunities for sourcing critical funds for those of us working to defend and preserve the rights of women and girls. CLARO???

Gregory: To the Women – Peace & Love

 Peter: ….. and wouldn’t it be great if men didn’t have to be reminded of their mothers and sisters and wives in order to be aware of and care about women!

Amina Mama quote


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Glennis Hyacinth  died yesterday. For those who would not know, Glennis was an advocate for reproductive health and rights in Trinidad and Tobago,  indeed the Caribbean. She was a founding member of ASPIRE, (Advocates for Safe Parenthood: Improving Reproductive Equity) which has run a most intelligent campaign to ensure that all women have equal and safe access to  reproductive health services.

It is a courageous campaign which asks us all not to ignore the number of  women (many young and poor) who die or  are seriously injured by backstreet, unaccountable abortion services.

Glennis understood that access to abortion, whatever other ethical and philosophical issues are raised, is also a social justice issue. Herself a mother, she advocated reasonably and with clarity for women’s right not only to choose, but importantly to have access to services whatever their income capacity.

Glennis’ life’s work was aimed at making us  that much more compassionate and caring and no doubt the stress of this advocacy took its toll on her. But an advocate she was and in explaining in 2005 why she did this, here Glennis speaks for herself:

“What keeps us going is knowing that what we are doing is very critical. What keeps us going is the 3,000 to 4,000 women who end up in hospital because of unsafe abortions. What keeps us going is that we speak for a number of women who can’t. What keeps us going is the rights of human beings.”


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 We (I) am at the stage where the lapse of time, the genetic fates, life styles, sheer badlucky happenstance, any combination of these  can take their grim toll, changing the nature of one’s engagement with the world from one minute to the dramatic next and not for the better.

People respond to consciousness altering experiences in as many ways as there are people. This has been a rough year for friends, grappling with living in the  more known certainty of mortality. And yet, observing them, there is the impulse to move on, to make life as usual as far as is possible. To take control by insisting that the old life, its contours subsist, continue and are relevant.

 I have been wondering about that. Should not life altering experiences alter how we experience the passing of time? Change our routine, give latitude to think both with more focus and also more widely about what one is to do.

There is no right answer to that. In the midst of shock, suppressed and contained grief, going about like normal may just be most mind soothing. To laugh loudly and deeply about the same ole, to complain about the frustrations, to keep on at the same 9 to 5, to quarrel and kiss the children…

Maybe these are less choices than the imperatives of being in a world that keeps on turning even when your universe has gone topsy-turvy.


Here is a poem: Hope by Emily Dickenson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

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For Allyson

Driving past Lapeyrouse Cemetery on Carnival Saturday years ago, I heard that Andre Tanker had died, suddenly, of a heart attack I believe. The radio stations were playing his music, including his hit that year, Rough Jamming. Great song, full of social commentary on young men. I cried like I knew him. 

And so it is, this morning having heard that Allyson Hennessey died. Unlike Tanker, I did know Allyson. Well to say hi and have light conversation. My sense of loss though is way beyond my familiarity with her. As with Tanker, this feels like a loss to the Trinidadian body politic and culture.

When I went to live in Trinidad in 1985, many a morning I whiled away time watching her on Dateline, a TV programme. She intrigued me, mellifluous, measured, arty, pretty and yes, big. People being drawn to her, she was in the psychic middle of any room yet without self-importance.

We Working Women got time on her morning programme – to promote a candle light march or lecture, a fulmination against patriarchy, whatever. And after years of these 10 minute segments of utilitarian talks, we would meet outside the studio and she behaved as if she knew us in a friends kind of way, a gift  or maybe discipline of paying attention to people.

There is that archetypal Trini in the minds of the rest us Caribbeaners- open-minded, tolerant, thinking, full of fun, ironic, ageless and gracious. And she was that and grounded in her country, willing it to live up to the collective talents of its people.

I associate her with those who believe that there is something quite profound about Trinidad’s cultural expressions, to be applied to its politics for realising the goal of a good living for all.

This is a loss for Trinidad and Tobago.


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Character is all

There are not enough words to express the harrowing awe of the rapid onset and continuously unfolding catastrophe in Japan. That water coming in such speed and force to take everything in its way, converting houses, cars, telephone lines, animals into flotsam and jetsam.

As overwhelming as the force of nature, it is the force of culture and character that transfixes- the stoicism, the reserve, the discipline of Japanese people.

Prepared as any population can be for earthquakes and tsunamis, Japanese answered the warnings by heading uphill where they could. Thinking about the Caribbean, I wonder how often we even have disaster-preparedness drills. I feel cynically certain that in the event of an alarm raising, we would be wondering why these people only bothering us with all that over-reacting. Or something along those lines.

So far, there are no reports of overt panic though it is certain that the pall of dread hangs over Japan as they grapple with the nuclear reactors and try to figure out how to get food, drink, shelter. As they grieve for all that has been lost, all that cannot ever be replaced. And the place is cold.

What we are watching is not a superficial galvanising of community spirit in a post-disaster period. No. It seems more like the mining into a reserve of fortitude that has been put into the psychic bunkers over the generations.

 This is a spectacle of resilience.

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