My only entry into Caribbean history was my own family heritage. My parents are both from Trinidad and Tobago and so although I was born and raised in the United States, I grew up in a very West Indian culture. To be honest, my family background was one of the reasons I decided to take Women and Slavery in the Black Atlantic this semester. I wanted to expand my knowledge of slavery in the Caribbean because I realized that my understanding of slavery was centered within the United States. Nevertheless, reading about the institution of slavery and the women who navigated these societies made me more excited for our trip to Barbados. I was excited to see many of the sites we had read about and experience the modern-day legacy of the slave societies in Barbados.
It is safe to say that our trip to Barbados materialized everything we read and forced myself, and my classmates, to confront some difficult questions about the ways in which history is retold, who is allowed to tell these stories and who had access to these stories. For the week we spent in Barbados, we went on tours of plantations, visited a slave cemetery, churches, lectures, and my favorite, the museum and archives. However, what stood out the most, was the lack of knowledge Bajans had about their past. Interestingly, since tourism was a major part of the economy, many of the important sites of slavery were preserved for people to visit. But few Bajans knew in depth about the history that quite literally surrounded them.
I enjoyed our trip to the museum and archives the most because the museum was able to retell the difficult history of the slavery in Barbados without reproducing trauma. Thinking about the documentary, my class would soon have to create, the tour and archives provided me with a tangible and relatable ways to reproduce the history in the best way possible.
All in all, I am appreciative of my opportunity to go to Barbados because despite the often-difficult tours and discussions we had, I was forever blown away by the beauty of the island and the chances I got to spend time with the wonderful other women in my class. .