In Bahamian culture, the question “who are you” often most comes in the form of “child whose ya people.” This common question is not meant to hurt or offend; it is posed so that the asker might learn whether or not they know any of the same people as the person to whom they’ve posed the question.
In an island nation of 350,000 it is very likely that there is an aunt or an uncle they went to high school with sometime back and this allows both parties to engage in conversations comfortably (well for the most part, there has been a few instances in which the said uncle beat up the other person some years ago and things can get awkward for a few seconds before good nature takes over and the conversation resumes). I began this piece by emphasizing this common part of our culture because what I am about to write next has nothing to do with that particular question. I am writing to address the woman who asked me “and who are you?”
I was pleasantly surprised earlier this week when I received an invitation form a “high profile” organization asking me to attend a function in celebration of women in general and honoring one woman in particular. Given that the function is often very small, I took delight in knowing that I’d been asked to attend, not because I felt that I was “special” in anyway, but because opportunities like this one allow me to observe, talk to and learn from women who have been making an impact in our community and the world for some time.
The intimate function was beautiful and short, and as expected there were many outstanding Bahamians there. A general announcement was made to the body that official photos would be taken at the end of the function. The function ended, and as people took photos with the host of the event, I made my way over to do the same. That’s when it happened. That’s when she said “And who are you?”
As indicated earlier, this question is not to be confused with “whose ya people”. As a matter-of-fact, an elderly distinguished former parliamentarian had just asked me the same question and upon hearing my last name began to tell me stories of union battles she and my grandmother had fought for many years before. This was not the kind-hearted “I want to know you” question described earlier, this was the question people asked when they really didn’t want to know who you are, as much as they want to know why you are there and why in the world you expect that your picture should be taken with the likes of people who are obviously much greater than you.
In that moment, I answered sweetly “I’m no one ma’am, just a Bahamian that was invited to attend” and posed with a diplomatic smile as she snapped the photo regrettably. I don’t know if the photo came out, and quite frankly I don’t care. The point of this letter is to address her attitude and the attitude of everyone who has ever questioned “who are you” in the rude obnoxious way associated with societies in which people are classed.
I could have answered her by saying;” I am Anastarcia Huyler, the founder of Anastarcia.com and Bahamas Beauties against Cancer, former COBUS President, former Youth Ambassador to the Commonwealth, one of the original founders of the Bahamas National Youth Council and a researcher for the Bahamas National Youth Policy.” I could have told her “I was invited here today because I spend my time investing in women and young people.” I could have said “my grandmother was a labor union leader who had a Labor Day parade named after her.” Or I could have told her that “my great-grandfather was the first black man on Nassau Street hill with a TV set and that he probably loaned her great-grandfather money.”
I didn’t tell her any of those things because quite frankly it’s irrelevant. We have got to stop this attitude in the society that ties us to the things our grandparents and great grandparents did. Who cares? Well obviously her, but she shouldn’t. So what, I’ve done some things and had a few titles to my name, if I didn’t would it matter? Wasn’t I invited? Does “who I am” really affect whether or not I am worthy to be in some picture with some person?
Let me tell you who I am. I am the daughter of two hard working Bahamians who were never famous but have always been honest and kind hearted. No you do not know their names, and no there are no buildings named after them (because I haven’t built them yet), but they raised four outstanding children who are positively impacting this society every day. I am a young Bahamian who is passionate and talented and wants to invest all of that passion and talent into this country. I am a human being. I am a woman. I am black. And more than anything I am just as “entitled” as anyone else to be here simply because I am trying to better this nation. The reason I wanted the photo had nothing to do with me and everything to do with showing other people what is possible when you move with God and act in purpose. That, lady, is who I am but if you need titles and fancy suffixes, you can call me Queen because I am the daughter of a king.
The point of this article is to remind you that every human is a human being, meaning they are trying to become all that they can be. We’ve got to stop isolating people because of who we think they are and what we think they can give us. We are all humankind and should treat each other kindly. If you’ve ever questioned who you are, or been questioned by others as to who you think you are, just know this; you are someone.
So lady, you want to know who I am? I am Anastarcia Nicholette Huyler my name means Resurrection. People’s Victory. Leader. Don’t believe me? Just watch.