Caribbean Women

The women’s workshop went well. We played West Indian childhood schoolyard games, swam, walked, sang, listened to music, heard the waves crash on the beach, and were surrounded by bay, mango, citrus, and countless other trees. We Co-Counseled, had classes and demonstrations, got close, and remembered our goodness. The balance of attention1 was good and kept us from getting “stuck in the mud” as we discharged the hurt, isolation, hopelessness, grief, and everything else we’ve experienced as a result of racism and sexism.

There were twelve of us, all of the global majority. That was big and important. We had safety and a common cultural understanding that allowed us to go directly to the distresses that separate us and occlude our memory of our goodness. We could go there without explanations, inhibitions, or misinterpretations.

As the leader of the workshop, I wanted the group to be right in there with me. I wanted my plan and vision to be clear. I mapped out a plan on the whiteboard and connected it to these important fundamental ideas:

  • RC is a one-point program. 2

  • We are connected. We get to notice that society does not encourage women to be close. It encourages us to make sure our marriage and work relationships go well, but there is no emphasis on making our relationship with our mother go well.

  • We get to remember to fight for ourselves. We are worth fighting for. Most of our ancestors, even some of the white ones, were brought here as slaves or indentured servants to make the sugar plantations profitable. We easily forget that we are completely human and that our female bodies, our relationships, and our lives are ours and for us and can therefore be shaped by us.

  • We get to give up feeling bad about ourselves.

  • Our persons and environmental resources were appropriated and used to generate wealth. Loss of lives was regarded as collateral damage. We got to cry about the ongoing genocide and the continued abuse of our labour and resources by multinational organizations. These hurts are now internalized. We can notice that we get to think about ourselves, and we have each other and RC to keep us clear about that.


It can be hard to look at the hurt and separation between East Indian-heritage people and African-heritage people, which was institutionalized to sustain colonialism. We tend to pass it all offand say, “We are Caribbean people,” so we don’t have to look at it. I decided that we would look at it, and we split into two groups: African-heritage women and Asian-heritage women. I led the African-heritage group. It was the most precious moment of the workshop for me. I looked at my sisters’ faces and noticed that we have made it.4 We are alive and well, big and beautiful, and we get to continue flourishing.

We also feel like we have to fix things, often without help. It can be hard to remember that we get to be completely cared for. We can think about ourselves while thinking about our communities. We get to remember that our men are our allies and that we can expect them to help.

Chantal Esdelle
Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
list for leaders of African-heritage people

1 “Balance of attention” means amount of attention we had on benign reality.
2 The one-point program of the RC Communities, as stated in the Guidelines for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities, is “through RC to seek recovery of one’s occluded intelligence and to assist others to do the same.”
3 “Pass it all off” means disregard it.
4 “Made it” means succeeded.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00