I really, really, really dislike this question. My ability to answer it depends on where I am. I don’t know the answer when I am in America. When I am in Saint Lucia, the place where I was born, there is no doubt or hesitation in my answer. I am Lucian.
When people outside of St.Lucia ask me where I am from, am I supposed to answer Saint Lucia or New York? The phrase “born and raised” confuses me. From what age are you “raised’ and when does that “raised” finish ? Who determines that ? I was born in Saint Lucia but I am confused as to where I was raised. In one year I will have lived more years outside my birth land and I am struggling with that fact.
My blood and my ancestral history is rooted in the island of Saint Lucia. But, as someone who has lived in the U.S since the age of ten, I feel ashamed of embracing that origin. It is not because I am ashamed of my country, it’s actually the opposite. I am so proud to be Lucian that sometimes I feel like I am not not Lucian enough to claim my birth land. Sometimes I feel like the states has washed away the defining characteristics of my heritage. My accent is littered with the exaggerated pronunciation of ‘r’. My tone of voice and the way that I speak is smoothed out in a way that makes me sound foreign to my own ears.
I am scared that time will wash away and make insignificant the years I have had on this island. I want to be able to say that I am Saint Lucian, that my family lives here, that I was born and “raised” here and that is where I am from. But these statements feel incomplete because they hide the preteen and teenage years in New York City that have painted me as “American”.