“Castle of my skin” is an abbreviation of the title of a book by a renowned Caribbean author – an autobiographical story of the coming of age of a young man of African descent in a British West Indian Colony.
I selected this title based on my own exploration of growing up in a post-Independence, former British colony in the West Indies, tracing the path of an earlier generation who were born into colonialism. I seek to understand the split nature of our identities as an English speaking, African Caribbean people.
We are the children of a stolen multitude, knowing only a homeland that we did not spring from, taught loyalty to a mother country that did not nurture us, longing for our mythological ‘true’ motherland – the utopia for children with ruptured bloodlines and fragmented traditions – the place where we are whole again.
I have begun my reckoning with my own dismantled history by examining the fundamental discomfort that we experience within ourselves. It is a discomfort born of the cumulative experience of centuries of chattel slavery, colonialism and institutionalized racism. These systems were built around physical and psychological bludgeoning – the unacknowledged trauma of which we still feel today.
My work is a reflective homage to my ancestors in which I permit myself to relive and remember their pain. I resist the natural desire of society to disassociate ourselves from a low point in history that it would be easier to forget. Remembrance and representation are tiny steps in the cathartic process of healing. Buried within my work is a plea to my peers to do what it takes to put the pieces of ourselves back together again, to allow ourselves to become whole again, within the most fundamental of homes, the skin we live in.