Interview with Dexter Tyson, creator and manager of Caribbean Facebook page: CaribScope

(This Blogpost is from September 19 2013) When I started with my blog “Caribbean2World”, my goal was to show that the Caribbean has a lot to offer. Besides sun, sea and sand, we have a rich history, culture and interesting people. The way we approach life in the Caribbean is really something unique in the world and  little by little we have remarkable Caribs who every now and again provide us with an opportunity to showcase ourselves to the world. Just take the last Olympics in London 2012, where: Jamaica, Bahamas, Grenada, Trinidad and The Dominican Republic achieved some incredible results and gold medals. I felt proud to be Caribbean.

So, when exploring the web for inspiration, interesting stories and content for my blog I found out that I am not alone in my quest. One of the most exciting Facebook pages I recently became a fan of is:

Only 6 months old, and already has more than 1700 fans. The topics they post are right up my alley and it is therefore that I want to introduce you to them. Like their page and join us in our journey on learning what the Caribbean has to offer 2 the world.

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Let’s start at the beginning. From which part of the Caribbean are you?

I am from St. Thomas, U.S Virgin Islands, but I was raised on the island of St Kitts for the first 8 years of my life. My father is from St. Kitts and my mother is from the island Nevis, next door.

What inspired you to start your FB page Caribscope?

I have since long had a passion for the Caribbean. I just have this complaint that we are not taken serious and that our story is understated and overlooked. We are just thought of as a tourist destination; a place for rum, sun and fun. Images are conjured up of us lying around in hammocks, drinking rum and smoking weed all day. I want to change this image. I want the stories of our history to be told and the stories of our contributions to the world stage. I want to do and see documentaries about our region. I have always maintained that we helped to build the world and shaped and sustained the fortunes of Europe in a myriad of wars.

I have to also point out that this page was a brainchild collaboration with a Jamaican friend of mine (Leighton Scarlet). He keeps a very low profile, handling the administration side of things. I am the one who provides the content and engage the fans.

Do you have a special or specific purpose for the page?

Yes, to, in my own small way, do the above —promote more than just pretty beaches and share interesting tidbits about us to the world. It is certainly a labor of love; a love for my people, a love for my people and a love in telling about us.

Which Islands of the Caribbean have you visited?

St. Croix, St. John, St. Kitts, Nevis, Puerto Rico, Tortola and Jamaica. I visited Jamaica at least 20 times in the 90s and early 2000s.

The Caribbean has a tumultuous past. Nowadays we have Spanish, English, French and Dutch Islands. All of this creates one of the most interesting melting pots in the world. What do you consider to be the most important factor binding us together as Caribbeans?

As crazy as this may sound, it is our common history under colonialism, coupled with a common dominant culture that originated in Africa, for the most part. I love the fact that you can go from island to island and find the same foods with different names, for example.

How important do you feel is the pre-columbian history of the Caribbean for todays culture and people? Where according to you can you still find most of this in the Caribbean?

Sadly, the story of the pre-Colombian peoples take a backseat to those who came after and became the dominant culture. This would make sense because they are a minority today, however, it is no excuse to overlook them. To find the survivors, you have to go to a place like Dominica or St. Vincent where pockets of Kalinago people still live. Apparently it is a dying culture and it would be unimaginable that in 200 years, they could all be gone.

English: Scene of the Battle of Vertières duri...

English: Scene of the Battle of Vertières during the Haitian Revolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is there anything out there, of which you think the world should know more about?

(This could be a piece of history, culture, or anything you find important)

Oh yes…I believe the Haitian Revolution is very understated in terms of the world stage and important revolutions. It is because of the Haitian Revolution, a large portion of the U.S exists today via the Louisiana Purchase. While the upside of the Revolution was that the Haitian slaves won their freedom, the downside and lesser known story is that France, along with other European nations and the U.S, gave the new nation a cold shoulder and hamstrung their growth by placing a massive indemnity on it and making sure Haiti was set up to fail from the start. We see the evidence to this very day.

Can you name some important and inspiring people from the Caribbean who you recommend us to get to know more of? And why? (these can be a historical and current persons)

Tim Duncan from St. Croix comes to mind. Consummate athlete and person. I am also fascinated by Toussaint L’Overture, the Haitian leader who got the Haitian Revolution on the way. There is also Fidel Castro. I really don’t agree with how he went about suppressing expression in his country, but I like how he thumbed his nose at the U.S for all these years and has outlived about 5 presidents. Since I consider Venezuela, technically, part of the Caribbean, I also had a great deal of respect for Hugo C. Chavez. I am all about challenging establishments if they are corrupt and watching the poor/weak rise up to challenge the elite. Chavez, at least from where I sit, did this. He may have been in Venezuela, but he was a champion to the poor and weak everywhere. Oh, and how can I forget the great Eric Williams of Trinidad. Talk about an intellect and with an impressive track record.

Any other bloggers, Facebook pages or websites promoting the Caribbean you recommend?

I am not sure of many, but I know they are out there. As a Virgin Islander, I tend to come across more pages about the Virgin Islands because most of my FB friends are from my home islands. So far I love your blog and I really, really, really love the name.

And last but not least, what is your secret insider’s tip of the Caribbean?

I can’t say really. I don’t really have any, so to speak. Whatever secrets we have, I want them revealed to the world because I believe our ‘secrets’ could be to the world’s enlightenment and benefit. If anything, for those visiting our islands, I would say that we are more than rum, sun and fun. I suggest, before visiting, grab a book that gives a deeper history of our islands other than some travel magazine blip that talks about Columbus and then races past slavery to get to beach and rum talk.

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