2020 saw more black folks get serious about relocating to escape racism and to enjoy a better quality of life too.
[Article first published on Island Girls Rock]
“When I’m remembered as an ancestor, I want my descendants to say she was free. She got free in (her) lifetime and we’ve been free ever since.” - Thea Monyeé
Despite being born in the UK and benefitting, in spite of the odds, from the educational and economic opportunities this land has had to offer, the current climate feels like the ideal time to leave a table at which love has never been served to people of my hue and return to the Caribbean. If it means placing generational wellbeing above generational wealth, so be it.
As the mother of three young children, I know full well that very little has changed since I was a kid in the eighties. While I hope my kids never have to witness, as I did, someone spit in their mother’s face or hear me being called a black bitch, the reality is that the dial has barely moved on a host of other indicators from educational outcomes, rates of arrest, imprisonment and employment. And that’s before we even start talking about the covid-19 madness.
It’s called Babylon for a reason
And yet, like any abusive relationship, it’s not easy to walk out the door. This place is called Babylon for a reason. Whether it's panicking about what I’ll do without access to the National Health Service (NHS) or even just the thought of life without same-day Amazon Prime delivery, on a bad day there is almost enough glitter to help me forget the toxicity of the UK...but not completely.
And I know I’m not the only one, which is why creating The Exodus Collective, a platform to inspire conscious relocations to the Caribbean through storytelling, is something I’ve been thinking about for years.
As someone who had a trial-run at moving to Grenada in 2015 and who runs a business there, I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve encountered who are looking to make similar moves but are unsure where to turn.
So when a friend, Carly King, who had moved from the US to Grenada in 2014, reached out to see if there were any Caribbean relocations platforms she could contribute to given her calling as a healing practitioner, it was a no-brainer to join forces and bring this vision to fruition.
Being fully grounded in your sense of purpose and aware of the importance of holistic wellbeing is, in my opinion, as foundational an element in a sustainable move overseas as booking your plane tickets.
Migrants vs Expats: recognising inherent privilege
Admittedly, creating such a space is a delicate balance. As I’ve written before, despite holding dual citizenship and the fact that my parents were born and bred on the Spice Isle, I’m still seen as a foreigner.
I’m acutely aware of the inherent privilege that lies in my ability to upsticks, leave and settle in another country; it’s an option that is beyond the reach of many Caribbean folk simply because of the absurdity of the travel visa system.
On top of this, there is the valid question as to whether ordinary citizens in the Caribbean actually want an influx of returnees coming to the islands. Aside from the covid infection threat we pose, and what makes matters worse is that many of us have internalised the colonizers’ mindset and bring that ‘holier than thou’ mentality with us when we move.
As such, the Exodus Collective is a space for folks who don’t want to be “that expat” but rather desire to actively create a positive social impact in the destinations in which they settle.
Whether it’s shifting the narrative on identity like Jamaica-based publisher and author, Jessica Wilson, or starting an enterprise that empowers local farmers in Grenada like Tri-Island Chocolate founder Aaron Sylvester, the collective exists to share stories of those who’ve moved to the Caribbean in their prime to inspire others who are on the fence about relocating.
Co-creating a more regenerative future back home
For far too long the islands have suffered from a brain drain. Given the crippling economic impact of the pandemic on tourism and diaspora remittances, now is the time to redirect that flow.
While those back home probably aren’t sitting there waiting with open arms for us in “foreign” to return, with an agile, humble approach I’m convinced we can co-create new approaches to build better, more sustainable futures.
As for me, I’m diving in at the deep end, eschewing Grenada’s south with its gated communities, yacht clubs and five-star hotels for the rural north of the island. It’s a “go hard or go home” approach but I need to be nurtured by nature.
In moving to the ramshackle Victorian house my grandfather bought with the proceeds from endless menial jobs in London during the Windrush era it feels like picking up his mantle.
I want to grow my own food, set up a natural learning space for my kids and anyone else who wants to join us while delving into ancestral work and nature connectedness with my Bud & Root platform.
Yet I'm aware that, despite the dreamy setting, the Caribbean is far from a utopia. It’s clear that each island has its own problems but I’m ready to be part of a solution in an environment that I am not only invested in but also deeply rooted.
As the region rebuilds I want in at the ground floor because, from serving in WWI to helping in the post WWII reconstruction effort and beyond, me and my ancestors have more than done our bit for the “motherland”.
Get yourself in the zone for your relocation journey long before you’ve even booked your tickets.
Feeling stuck and uncertain about moving overseas? You’re not the only one - so many of my clients started out feeling overwhelmed!
Yet the truth is, if used wisely, that pent up energy you’re grappling with is actually a potent gift you can use to fulfill your goals.
Book a 1:1 consultation session with me to turn your doubts upside down and get super intentional and strategic about your move.
Together we’ll hone in the underlying sense of purpose and meaning you hope to achieve by relocating and create a concrete Conscious Relocation roadmap to get you to where you need to be.