Staff Perspectives – Tricia Williams
As a first-generation immigrant to this country, to say the transition was difficult was an understatement. Although I spoke the Queens English many found my accent odd. It was baffling to me that others were upset when I excelled in my studies. I then realized their perception was that I came from a ‘3rd world’ country, which in fact my homeland is one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean. It was a defining experience in my life.
I believe that some of these experiences can mimic what people with IDD go through. I am sure society can sometimes feel foreign to my son, who is on the spectrum. His abilities seem astounding to those who think, ‘But you have autism. How can you outpace the other eight-year-olds?’ I came to this country in 1984 from Trinidad and Tobago. I am a proud Tobagonian who is constantly asked if I am from another island whose accent is more familiar and assumptions are made about my nationality. I consider that the same as when people speak loudly to someone with an IDD. Ask me, don’t tell me who I am.
Yet I call this country my home. I am choosing to raise two Black boys; both have the right to someday become the President of this country with their half-Caribbean heritage. I shared with them that there were Trinidad born civil rights activists. They fought alongside Dr. King here in America. Stokely Carmichael, also known as Kwame Ture, from Trinidad, is barely mentioned in their history books but they need to know about him.
In the melting pot of America, let’s remember that the diverse backgrounds of the Caribbean played roles in this country’s culture, history, and cuisine. Let’s encourage one another to strive for the national motto of Trinidad & Tobago in this country as well.
–Together we Aspire, Together we Achieve.