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A Letter to Eve

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by Summer Doris, Second Place Winner of the Novus High School Creative Writing Contest

Caribbean people are lazy. This phrase lingered in my head from the moment these words
were uttered from a disapproving mouth. Sitting in the wooden chair of my stuffed classroom, I
looked up from the dusty linoleum floors to examine the face that belonged to this mouth.
Caribbean people are lazy. I studied the smirk on his face, and the look of pride that glistened in
his eyes. The classroom began to feel more stuffy, I couldn’t breathe as the whispers of
disapproval for islanders encompassed our classroom. In utter shock, I began to look towards my
teacher, my eyes begging him to rectify the situation. My teacher saw my pain, and redirected
our conversation towards a different topic. Still, my peers felt the need to further perpetuate their
disapproval for people like me. This is simply because Caribbean people, like me, are lazy. And
in my environment, what the majority believed, was inevitably true.

To my great-grandmother Eve, laziness was never an option. With eight kids in total, she
learned responsibility from a young age. After the birth of her firstborn, she worked relentlessly
to provide for her children in the bustling city of Georgetown, Guyana. Like any Guyanese
woman, Eve understood the true value of family. Job after job, she worked vigorously to make
sure her kids would lead a life that they deserved. Their education and happiness was a priority
for her as a mother, and as a human being. She would do anything for her family, even if it
meant that she did not rest or eat well, it was all for the sake of her family.

From her gem-like spirit, and tireless work ethic, her kids learned the value of staying
true to their dreams. She and her children were grounded in the value of community, and
receiving a prosperous education. Eventually as Eve worked, she found an opportunity to
enhance her, and her children’s lives. She made the difficult decision of heading towards the
United States alone, without her children. There she was, establishing a home, and taking
each of her kids from Guyana one by one. Eve was simply phenomenal, her ambitions made-rich by
the sunshine of our beautiful country. She touched each generation of her family, spreading her
wisdom to her sons and daughters, her wisdom spreading intergenerationally. In the eight years
that I spent getting to know her, I adopted her values of the Guyanese way of living.

Consequently, I have never believed any one Caribbean person I know to be lazy. After
all, most Caribbeans I have met are the ones within my own family. So, as I sat there in that
stuffed classroom, full of whispers I garnered the courage to question my peers. I questioned
why they believed this to be true, for they never even cared to meet us. How could they open
their mouth, and demean people of a beautifully hardworking, family-oriented culture. And as I
challenged my peers, their lips fell silent, and their eyes no longer glistened of pride and
disapproval. My love for my people, and my Guyanese upbringing allowed me to find my voice,
and question their incompetence. Their eyes now showed their regret, and reconsideration of
their stance on people like me. It was abundantly clear to them that in this instant, their
assumptions were wrong.

In this instance, Eve’s spirit offered me the courage to oppose my peers in an
uncomfortable situation. Thanks to her, I can always remember that my heart is green, red, and
gold, and my blood flows through me like the many waters of my beautiful country. My hair
falls like the Kaiteur, my eyes stay as starry as the Stabroek market, as I dream for my future.
Although I was born in America, Guyana is the home of my consciousness. I thank Eve, for if
she taught me anything, it was that we Guyanese are hard workers.