I am proudly Afro Caribbean. My parents are both native to Haiti, and our family history can be traced all over the Antilles, especially the Bahamas. History tells us that when someone rich doesn’t want to do hard labor, they hire someone they believe is beneath them. This is regardless of the race. Asians were hired during the California Gold Rush, Black people were captured and kept as slaves, and even today, people of color typically take the hard, manual labor jobs that others won’t.
This is the case of the Deering Estate. According to records, Charles Deering hired many Afro-Bahamian workers to help renovate and expand the estate. Some of these workers even died while building the canal that leads into the estate from Biscayne Bay. Nevertheless, the workers kept a part of themselves in history. The photograph above is only one example of pieces of my people’s past. This shell formation is akin to something you’d see as mason work in Haiti or the Bahamas.
Walking around the estate, my eyes fell on these shells again. Shells are a reminder of home, even when you’re no where near close. Looking at a shell, I’m reminded of the turquoise waters that lick the white sand beaches of the Bahamas. I see shells, and I’m reminded of oxtail and rice, or fried conch, or fried plantains that are crispy and warm. I’m reminded of Bahamianese (a English creole dialect), I’m reminded of bright smiles, even in the face of adversity. I’m reminded of home. And that’s all I need. A reminder of home. A taste of my past. A reminder of all that I am.