dedication to our matriarch

February is a month most noted for celebrating Black history and love. I dedicate this particular post to the matriarch of my family, Nelly Mercier Rigaud, my grandmother who was born on February 20, 1919, and was an unwavering example of what it means to love, have fortitude, resiliency, and determination to make sure everyone eats - literally.

Over the years, I learned that she always made sure the men had enough food on their plate (patriarchy apparently is real in the West Indies too), she held down the movie theaters our family rented in Haiti while her husband was being an entrepreneur in the U.S.,  and passed down her greatest recipes to the best cook in the family - my mom.

Hearing stories of her years after her departure from the world only makes me wish I talked to her more often and asked her more questions when she was alive. There was a bit of a language barrier between her and me,  yet she still enforced discipline and love in a way only I could sense. Maybe it's part of the fear that my elders instilled in me, but nonetheless, I respected her off the premise of her presence.

I don't know how she did all the things she did while maintaining an angelic presence. An angel in disguise, I suppose.

As I've gotten older, I'm learning the importance of traditions and family values, and I have her to thank for this.

it's in my blood.

Activism. Writing. Researching. Storytelling. Back in September when my aunt & uncle came to town, a friendly debate came up amongst my family. This isn't abnormal considering after family dinners, a night cap almost always involves coffee while discussing politics - specifically around U.S. and Haiti - with my father 'leading' the conversation by mostly arguing against what else everyone is saying. Or at least striking up another point of view, to stir the pot.

When the topic of activism came up during times of political turmoil, coup d'etats and fighting for human/civil rights in Haiti, I asked something along the lines of 'who were the women who were fighting for justice in Haiti.'

The room fell silent as everyone seemed to be deep in thought, with my dad mentioning...'yes, there were some women who were involved' but no specific names were dropped. My aunt, Marlene answered in a way of genuine curiosity and concern saying that she didn't know any off the top of her head, but that she'd do some research for me.

A few weeks later, she sends me a beautiful piece on what she found and I'm proud to share that her story has been published on Abernathy.