CREATIVE SPACE #6 of 2022 (uploaded March 14th 2022)
CREATIVE SPACE is an award-winning series spotlighting local (Antiguan and Barbudan/Caribbean) art and culture. As a brand, it dates back to 2009, published exclusively in LIAT’s inflight magazine. It was revamped in 2018 as a blog series and syndicated as of 2019 on Antiguanice.com. Its publishing partner, as of 2020, is the Daily Observer newspaper. It has its first print run in the paper every other Wednesday, with the online extended edition with EXTRAS running here on the blog and full interviews and extras on AntiguanWriter on YouTube. In 2021, the two–part CREATIVE SPACE mini-series on marine culture placed third in the OECS clean oceans journalists challenge. CREATIVE SPACE is created, owned, and written by Joanne C. Hillhouse – Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean author, journalist, producer, and freelance writer, editor, and trainer.
Here’s a link to the issue as it appeared in the Daily Observer newspaper on March 16th 2022:
Below is the extended online edition (not a duplicate of the edition with publishing partner Observer Media) with EXTRAS.
CREATIVE SPACE #6 OF 2022: THE STUFF THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF (A WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH FEATURE)
I am not comfortable putting myself in this picture. But I crowd sourced local women to spotlight in my CREATIVE SPACE Women’s History Month collage and these are who got multiple mentions after responses from social media, Intersect Antigua, Gender Affairs, and Her Shine Theory. So this is the collage.
Apart from the discomfort mentioned, there is disappointment that there is not more History in it. No Hannah Thomas, nurse and midwife in Barbuda with little to no institutional support for decades, the island’s hospital now named for her. No Edris Bird, veteran educator with AGHS and the UWI extra mural programme, also on the latter’s advisory committee. No Bertha Higgins, artist and music educator, founder of the Antigua Artist Society and foundational to Hell’s Gate Steel Orchestra’s development in addition to being the country’s first female parliamentarian and senate appointee to the short-lived West Indies Federation.
These three, sourced from the Museum’s social media, examples of #breakingbias, a reminder that the picture is incomplete.
But let’s start here.
With Jamaica Kincaid, acclaimed novelist (Annie John to A Small Place to Lucy to See Now Then) and Harvard professor who has been part of the Nobel Laureate conversation for years; and a #gyalfromOttosAntigua, that’s me, author (The Boy from Willow Bend to Oh Gad! to Musical Youth to The Jungle Outside) and founder of the Wadadli Pen programme for literary arts development; and the full circle moment when, per CREATIVE SPACE 26 of 2021, I spoke at Jamaica Kincaid’s honor ceremony at last November’s Langston Hughes Festival.
In the dramatic arts, Zahra Airall, A CREATIVE SPACE regular (1, 7, and 14 of 2019), who, between Women of Antigua, Zee’s, Honey Bee, and Sugar Apple has become the standard in modern Antiguan and Barbudan theatre. That’s before we get to her work as a drama teacher and the various Antigua Girls High School students she’s shepherded to wins at local and regional competition, writing and directing plays like The Forgotten, Whispers in Wallings, and especially The Long Walk, in addition to reviving classics of international, Caribbean, and Harambee!
In other performing arts, Asher Otto, ‘Home’ singer, covered in CREATIVE SPACE 11 OF 2018 when she jammed beachside with international artist, as she is herself becoming, Joss Stone; international soca queens Claudette ‘CP’ Peters and Tanzania ‘Tizzy’ Sebastian, with, respectively, popular hits ‘Out Dey’, a road march winner, the first in Antigua by a solo female, and ‘Expose’, a regional soca hit; and Tavia Hunte, dancer-choreographer and founder of Shiva’s School of Dance.
In sports, history makers – reigning Arnold Classics Europe and IFBB Elite Pro World bikini fitness champion, both firsts for Antigua and Barbuda, Kimberly Percival, now an ambassador-at-large; and Team Antigua-Barbuda Island Girls (Elvira Bell, Samara Emmanuel, Kevinia Francis, and Christal Clashing – the team last mentioned in CREATIVE SPACE 3 of 2019 and Clashing spotlighted in CREATIVE SPACE 19 of 2021 and, as a new author, CREATIVE SPACE 4 of 2022), the first all-Black, all-female team to row the Atlantic, and currently campaigning for a Pacific row.
The political first was Jacqui Quinn-Leandro who, after a high profile media career, became the country’s first elected female parliamentarian.
Speaking of media, Mitzi Allen has the distinction of being co-producer of Antigua’s first feature length film, The Sweetest Mango, and several more films and TV programmes (see HaMa’s mention in CREATIVE SPACE 11 of 2020).
Heather Doram, a former Culture director and the designer of our national dress, starred in the second of HaMa’s films, No Seed, and has starred on stage and TV (e.g. in the Maisie and Em series) in addition to her primary career as one of Antigua and Barbuda’s most celebrated artist – spotlighted 4 times in CREATIVE SPACE due to how prolific and boundary pushing she continues to be.
Like Heather, Renee Ambrose-Edwards, who featured in CREATIVE SPACE 23 of 2021, is a multi-hyphenate trailblazer – drag racer and founder of the Caribbean’s first all-female drag racing team, plus sized model and pageant winner, aviation engineer, LadyMex workshops lead facilitator, whose sports development community programme sees her lifting others as she climbs.
I end with Margo Brodie , born and raised by a single mother as Margo Williams, in Antigua, now chief judge with the US district court for the eastern district of New York. Not in the collage but something she said speaking at the 2012 commencement for her alma mater, St. Francis College, stuck with me.
I didn’t know how I would pay for law school and I had no one to guide me but I was determined to do so…I still wake up pinching myself because I can’t believe that this dream has come true.
I think the women listed here, whether we have reached the apex of our dreams or not, would be inclined to agree.
Finally, I saw the many International Women’s Day’s big ups and… thanks, but if you want to move beyond word to action, affirm and support our dreams & stop policing our minds, movements, bodies, and clothing.
For the collage, I picked the submissions that received the most mentions. Here are the others:
Brenda Lee Browne (London Rocks and Just Write programme) and Floree Williams Whyte (Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses to Dance on the Moon)
Julie Hewlett (The Sweetest Mango) and Anna Maria Horsford, whose mother is from Antigua (Amen)
Lena ‘Queen Ivena’ Philip (first female calypso monarch)
Antigua Dance Academy founder Veronica Yearwood, Abi McCoy, Susan Shaw
Track Olympians Heather Samuel, now sports director for Antigua and Barbuda, and Joella Lloyd, and fitness models Melissa and Michelle Seaforth, IFBB pro league athletes
Political Firsts –
Dame Louise Lake Tack, first female governor general, and Shenella Govia, who, at 22 in 2014, made history as the youngest person to be appointed senator
ABS TV/radio general manager Erna-Mae Brathwaite; and former morning show hosts on the national station Brucella Marsh, a brand ambassador, and Jamila Kirwan, a former Carnival queen and actress and current media specialist
Powerful Women –
D. Gisele Isaac, writer-educator-boss; Margo Brodie (see article); Ladesa James-Williams, First Antiguan and Barbuda to head a major international bank, also an author; Judith Chastanet, manager of Social Security; Gail Christian, lawyer and politician; Chaneil Imhoff, politician and mental health advocate
Beyonce Ambrose and Nicoya Henry – both models, the former, a breakout star of the international fashion world, the latter home-based also a designer and entrepreneur; and June Ambrose (Antigua-born American stylist, costume designer, author, TV host, and creative director – lately of women’s basketball for PUMA)
Nellie Robinson, the country’s only female national hero and founder, in 1898, of the TOR Memorial School, which, by accepting children considered “illegitimate”, helped transform the social landscape of Antigua in the early 20th century; Judith Peets; founder of Sunnydale school and, according to the person who submitted her name, the first principal to allow dreadlocked children in to school (this is not verified); Joanne Boulous-Callias, first female principal of the all-male St. Joseph’s Academy Catholic school and founder of St. Anthony’s Secondary School – a Women of Wadadli Award winner for education
Keisha Schahaff, former flight attendant and business woman, who will shortly be the first Antiguan-Barbudan to travel to space, and former Guyana Defence Force (seems to be Guyanese originally) and Antigua-Barbuda based LIAT pilot Ayesha Green
Others, misc. –
Shannakisha Francis, 2019 (and still reigning given the absence of Carnival 2020-2021) Queen of Carnival and Jaycees Queen, and Her Shine Theory ambassador; and “a number of nurses who toiled long and hard over the years with little reward.”
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