Back in 2010 I posted my thoughts below on an experience that I had that caused deep emption to well up inside me. I decided to write about it. I originally called the piece, Fairylands or Gremlinlands?
(My experience in 2010 not 1910)
Yesterday I enjoyed the evening with some very dear friends of mine on and island off of Fairylands. Ahtough the experience was magical it was marred by the feeling of not belonging or being ‘out of place’ that I experienced as I was rudely questioned by some neighbours as to my purpose for being in the area. The other friends who were with me are of European descent.
My family owned land in several areas of Bermuda until they were forced off the land by the government and moved to Friswell’s Hill. Needless to say, I was upset at the interrogating questions that I received from this person. So I have written my thoughts out here to share with my friends in the hopes that it will generate meaningful discussion.
Nowadays as I live here in Kenya I want to revisit this piece that I wrote back then. I realize that in Bermuda if you are seen to be too ‘black’ in your thoughts or too ‘radical’ which usually means that you are not one of those who agree with the taught history that blacks in Bermuda were not treated “as badly as those in other countries like the US or Jamaica” then it is possible to blacklisted (no pun intended) or perhaps now people are sure of your political persuasion. My poem below is not about politics or radical thought. It is simply my family’s history, my experiences and the wish for the world to be a place slightly closer to something resembling equality for my children.
I am not welcomed there
Why do people feel the need to protect what is stolen? Can a people be so infused with the genus of pirates that like these vicious sea mongrels, it is better that treasure be hidden in a cave rather than to be a gentrified outlaw who distributes wealth amongst the common citizens? What then if the treasure that these modern day pirates hold is the ocean? What if the stolen treasure twinkles at night with the song of a thousand creatures that have been magically trained by an other worldly existence? What if this stolen treasure lies below our feet in soft blades of grass forbidding the entrance of “our kind” through simple, prudent gestures of “keep out” signs and distrustful, solicitous gazes of passersby?
As I now look upon this ocean from a distance I know that I once touched its shores. I know that my brown-skinned children once played here and experienced the blades of green treasure and the richness of the earth under their feet. I remember the splashing of blue crystal ocean as I now see it in the distance-I was not born then but I remember it well. To say that it was all mine and that I alone owned these shores and the earthy banks that bore it would be as hordish as those I now disdain but I will call it what my children called it. Home.
Although it is a distant memory, my night dreams speak wildly and remind me of my present.
Can a displaced people be forced to call another place home? Surely those of age can be politely asked to forget the luminescent song of the ocean through determined socialization that erases their uncomfortable history of too many disturbing questions and not enough politically correct parallels. Although I was courteously asked to forget through the immediacy of my material possessions, my children remember it well. I cannot hush their innocent questions that erupt all sorts of distasteful uncertainties as to the whereabouts of our home. To say that I was the only keeper of this land is as horsih as those I now distain but you have said, “All mine” and I am not welcome there.
by Joanne Ball-Burgess