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Ehren Joseph Layne

Hi! I am Antiguan – Response to “A Small Place”

I am proud of my Antiguan roots(Jamacia Kincaid is also a distant relative of mine – small island, everyone is related), yet could not help but feel sorrow while reading Jamaica Kincaid’s “A Small Place” and recounting the history of my mother’s birthplace. I’ve come to accept the fact that all contemporary culture originates from the malevolence of white men; men who would have never accepted the state of being a slave but felt pride in owning one; men who hated being conquered but felt morally justified in conquering; men who protected their families but were willing to destroy others. Devilish, evil, white men, whose reign and terror has forced those terrorized to condole themselves; culture, then, is born from the sympathetic feelings of the oppressed, who use their common horror as a means of social security. In attempting to understand Antiguan history and culture, a single principle must be presumed: we did not ask for this. We didn’t ask to be descendants of slaves. We didn’t ask for a corrupt government. We didn’t ask for the Syrians. We didn’t ask for Americans, Europeans, and – in general – white people. We didn’t ask for this hell, and if you wish to understand my family, my history, and my people, it must be known that we feel great sorrow for the oppressed, for we are them, and we, unfortunately, will never be anything but them. Jamaica Kincaid forced me to take a painful look at Antigua’s history and contemporary culture, both of which are demeaning to Antiguans and are heavily influenced by white men. As much as I agree with Kincaid’s view of Antigua, and appreciate her candor when speaking about our culture and our people, I am – and believe Kincaid is as well – horrified by our reality and often find myself – as Kincaid proclaims – baffled by the unsettling, egotistical nature of oppressors. 

Note: I didn’t really have an agenda while writing this. There’s no underlying plot nor thesis: this piece was really just me venting in a very constrained manner( I could’ve said a lot worse, worse). I had writer’s block trying to construct a piece about something so personal and felt that these were the only words I could say for now.

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