So, as many of you know – both of my parents are born and raised in Trinidad and as the youngest of 3, I am the first American born in my family. Growing up in my hometown of Albany New York, there were a lot of West Indian Families – but mainly Jamaican or Guyanese and not many with an Afro-Indian background…so, I was sometimes confused about the culture from which my heritage derived. My parents also didn’t converse much with me, maybe an age, education and culture difference, so they weren’t able to answer my questions of why we looked Indian but weren’t from India.
As I got older, I did my research on the country and my family which gave me a wealth of knowledge. I learned that my family background was mainly Indian and some African (23andMe.Com showed me I was 90% Indian and 6% African). For me, this discovery was incredible. I spent my youth being confused about my identity…the kids in my predominantly black neighborhood accepted me, but thought I was Indian and Indian kids thought I was black.
When I was 15 I took my first trip to Trinidad and learned even more about my family and “motherland”. More than anything, I loved that I walked around and saw a nation of people that looked like me and had all the cultural nuances that I had.
I’m still discovering more and more about myself through my heritage. Recently, my dear friend Che Kothari invited me out to experience Carnival. I was very hesitant coming off the heels of NYFW Men’s – especially because this trip would be right before the other beast known as NYFW Women’s. I’m also not a naturally social person at big events and generally shy away from major things like this. While I flew into Trinidad and Tobago, I was concocting exit routes – literally. What I would come to find was that, I fell in love with the experience and the people…not only that, it was way more positive, loving and fun than I could have ever expected.
Winnie Harlow, Me and Angela Hunte.
This trip totally made me feel even more connected to my culture. I even did all the things I normally would be against; dressing in costume, dancing with strangers, eating tons of bad vegan food…and I loved it all! Was only there for 2 days, my camera died halfway through – but see below of what I did get to snap before my battery was exhausted.
Got to see some of my cousins for less than an hour, but at least that!
Anya Ayoung Chee and Me!
Affion and Winnie.
Doing what I do best, eating doubles!
Travis Winfrey and Fuquan Johnson