Barbados Heritage: History of Leprosy

At the Barbados Archives

Looking at Leprosy in Barbados


In 1935 R. G. Cochrane wrote his short review – THE tour which was made recently through the West Indies revealed one or two most interesting facts. The two chief points which might be referred to briefly in passing, are firstly that the incidence of leprosy seems to go pari passu with the economic condition of the country and, secondly, from superficial observation, there seemed to be a racial factor influencing the type of disease seen in individuals.

The Island of Barbados is the most densely populated island in the British West Indies. It has a territory of approximately 1 66 sq. miles. The population in 1932 was 1 76,874. Its greatest length is 21 miles and its greatest breadth 14 miles. The average density is over 1,000 per sq. mile. The greatest density is in the parish of St. Michael, which has…

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Everything will get better! Except there are times it just doesn’t

Everything will get better! Except there are times it just doesn’t.

Depression-black-people-300x200 (1)

I’m scrolling though my timelines and I hit this message I have seen and heard a million times “Everything will get better!”Long quiet sigh to self. Heck I’ve even said it to others trying to share some hope but deep down I don’t connect to the phrase and never really have.

Before I go any further let me introduce myself. There is silly easy stuff we tell others in an effort to share, like:

I’m Rene. I was born in Barbados and I am a Capricorn who was born under the year of the rabbit. My blood type is B positive. I smile a lot, be it out of genuine happiness, nervousness, or politeness.


Then there are these truths burning through the mask and the smiles.

I have mental health issues


Link on mental health:

I live with bipolar disorder

Link on bipolarity:

I’m often riddled with crippling anxiety. People can often make this situation worse because they don’t fully understand what is going on in that moment.

Link on anxiety disorder :

I have suicidal tendencies and behavior. I have seriously tried to end my life a number of times over the years. My first suicide attempt was around age 10 I think.

Link on suicide 1:

Link on suicide 2:

I’m dyslexic. For me it plays on my spelling, reading to others, and comprehension under pressure


Link on dyslexia:

I self medicate. Often these days with compromising and harmful results using alcohol and cocaine

"Just self-medicating, and you?"

Link on substance use:

I have a physical congenital deformity called pectus excavatum


Link on pectus excavatum:


So now that you know all this about me, here I am. I go to bed every night with these things as my reality and I wake up faced with this same reality. There are days that I may not have these things at the front of my thinking but they are always there with me. Not every day is gloomy; there are days were I feel absolutely great, but when that fades away what follows for me is deeper than sadness. It is something that has plagued me for years, honestly to the point that I can’t remember a time that it hasn’t been this way.

There are points that I watch and read up on the things I live with. I like to do this because it somehow connects me with people through watching and reading. I get to see how others manage their own lives faced with issues similar to mine. This often helps but at times it can also be frustrating, as the content out there may be about your struggle but the “everything will be fine” narrative doesn’t quite fit. This is because unlike a book or show, life goes on.

I want to take a focus for a moment on mental health. When we make positive gains in managing our health it is like coming into bloom. Nothing feels better than experiencing life on a functional level. What we often choose not to talk about is that there can / will be breaks, cycles or a crash where you return to or surpass a state in our mental health.  How we deal with this, if we recover from it, will vary for each of us individually. We all have different coping mechanisms but the real question for us is:

Are they positive or negative actions / behaviours?  For me, as I get older, I find myself slipping further into negative spaces and becoming less able and willing to cope period.

So where does this leave me, and people like me that aren’t feeling it’s okay and that things are getting better? To be honest I don’t know. I feel comfort at times in the messages like ”it’s ok not to be ok” ,“life may not necessarily get better but people can get better”. I find peer conversation enlightening. I personally believe in asking for help but again I totally understand how people and systems can easily become negative experiences and spaces. Right now I’m unsure of people and spaces; this includes the ones I’m familiar with. To be honest the only thing I / we can do is to take it one day at a time.

We imagine if we were to lose our freedom that it would have to be snatched from us but more often than not it is slowly signed away by our own doing. ~ Me

“I think we all have a different capacity for pain and our ability to withstand it. What could be life-threatening to me in terms of suicide could be your Tuesday. We’re just all very different people.” ~ Dese’rae

Full link on suicide:


I wanted to share this on reflection of being hospitalised in September 2018 after a suicide attempt.

Continue reading Everything will get better! Except there are times it just doesn’t

Home is on my Mind… by Sheena Rose

Triumph Of The Now

Sheena Rose is a Barbadian artist who has exhibited her work all over the world, recently completing a Fullbright-funded MA at the University of North Carolina.

Home Is On My Mind… is a sixteen page chapbook published by Tony White‘s intriguing Piece of Paper Press and is a short, graphic, work containing 16 images (some are “loose narrative sequences”) that Rose drew in her sketchbook whilst living and studying in North Carolina. The drawings – as described in the press release accompanying the mostly (though not entirely) wordless publication – represent Rose’s attempts to engage with her identity as a Black Caribbean woman, as well as function as a focus for her thoughts of home, of Barbados, while living away from it. The drawings that have been selected move from the bizarre to the naturalistic to the unashamedly erotic1, with some words alongside images, usually denoting dialogue.

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Dear Gay Men of Color: Stop Begging Racist White Gay Men to love you.

The Magical Beautiful Unapologetically Black Prince


If I read another rambling think piece or watch another whiny YouTube video about some dejected and rejected Black Gay Man (or any other ethnicity of gay man for that matter) waxing poetic about how racist it is for White Gay Men to rebuke them based solely on race I am going to smash my head through a wall, seriously…

What is wrong with you people?

Are you that enamored by the white gaze and white supremacy that you will willingly subject yourselves to overt racism and constant microaggressions in order to be accepted by men who literally view you as a sexual fetish and nothing more?

Before I go into it please watch this video of an Asian Man (and a good looking fella at that) pleading with his “friends”–that he clearly wants to be more than just friends with–to stop being racist towards him and other Asian Gays…

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#lifeinleggings Call for feminist solidarity

Read the #lifeinleggings hashtag on facebook and twitter.

Feminist Conversations on Caribbean Life


This island has been cracked open and will never be the same again.

Women broke every silence.

We spoke of street harassment: girl, yuh pussy fat!

Principals who made no room for comprehensive sexuality education but slut-shamed girls who were themselves sexually abused.

Rape by current and former partners.

Years of sexual abuse by fathers, step-fathers, uncles, cousins.

Stories of men who told us that they’re waiting for our four-year-old daughters to grow up.

Men who offered jobs or rides or food or protection only to demand sex. Only to split our bodies open when we refused.

Men who raped us because we are lesbian, because we are women, because we are girls, because they could.

We exploded every myth about how good girls and good women are protected from this violence. That good men will protect us.  That all we have to do is call in our squad of brothers and and uncles…

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Notes on a Scandal – The things we hide.

“Remind yourself daily what loving one’s self really means. When we learn love within ourselves we understand loving others so much more. We all have secrets, go easy on others, go easy on you.”

Atelier By Gigi


We all have secrets, things we bury deep. The parts of us we don’t want people to see. Things we are ashamed of and that make us fear that if others knew they mightn’t  appreciate us as much as they do. The truth us we are more consumed by notions of self perfection than we may realize and what get’s complicated is when life begins to unearth these things, these elements within ourselves that we bury deep and sometimes won’t even let out spouses or closest friends and family know that we feel. The thing about this is I’m a hairstylist and for some reason we tend to feel comfortable talking to our stylist. It’s easy to sit in a chair that’s not in a therapist’s office and feel comfortable enough to share candidly and what I have learnt is we all have these hidden moments that can really hit…

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LGBTI activists mourn human rights veteran Joel Nana


Joel Nana (Photo courtesy of Facebook) Joel Nana (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Veteran African human rights activist Joël Gustave Nana Ngongang, widely known as Joel Nana, 33, died Oct. 15 after a brief illness.

He worked as a human and LGBT rights advocate and as an anti-HIV activist at local, national and international levels.  His main work focused on African countries, including Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa, as well as in his native Cameroon.

He was also a strong pan-Africanist who articulated a broader agenda than just LGBT rights and spoke against domination by the Global North.

Nana helped  found and eventually served as executive director of African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), the first Africa-wide consortium of organizations focused on addressing HIV and human rights of gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM).   Under his leadership, AMSHeR was
instrumental in raising awareness and mobilizing young African professionals to network and…

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Help Haitians, not the Disaster Capitalists

Tillah Willah

Disaster time again, for our sisters and brothers in Haiti. Already the vultures circle, using this tragedy as another opportunity to take advantage or worse, to engage in the pornography of suffering black bodies.

Now is not the time for tears, hand-wringing, there are lots of organisations that are quietly doing good work in Haiti that does not line the pockets of multinational aid corporations,  or continue to fatten the Port au Prince elite.

The following is a list I’ve compiled thanks to friends in Haiti and its diaspora. I’ll keep updating it as more info emerges.

Donations in Trinidad 

ITNAC Trinidad based organisation sending volunteers soon to Haiti asking for donations of  food/clothing/shoes/women’s sanitary wear/insect repellent as well as urgent cash donations in any currency.

Haitian led NGOs

Konbit Mizik   a NYC based non-profit using music to educate, empower and uplift Haiti’s vulnerable youth.

Haiti Communitiere   Donations go directly to help communities gain…

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“How Blacks have Irish Last Names”

Tribeca Chronicles

Ever wonder how a lot of African Americans have Irish last names? Is not because of Irish slave owners, no erase that foolishness……don’t think Gone With The Wind and the O’Hara plantation. What a lot of people don’t know is that Irish were slaves too, hundreds of thousands were sent to work in the West Indies and they blended with the black slaves thus we have Irish names like McFadden, McDonalds, etc. white-slave65a

Irish descendants

They came as slaves; vast human cargo transported on tall British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.
Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. They were burned alive and had…

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