Landing in St Lucia for the fourth time, this time armed with my citizenship card – I was hopeful to elicit, if not a smile, then some form of mild recognition.
I didn’t expect to be recognised for the fact that I was now a St Lucian citizen, and not a tourist. Well, actually, I I think I did. Sadly this time, the experience was worse than before. I was starting to think, it must be me.
But no, similar experiences emerged after speaking to a few friends and family, confirming an uncomfortable truth. Some of the staff at the international airport in St Lucia seem to have a problem with black visitors.
A painful fact that has to change.
Getting off the plane, staff on the tarmac are welcoming and concerned to ensure that everyone heads off in the right direction getting any help they need. But once you hit the building, it all changes. For the staff inside the airport building you’re made to feel a bit like an inconvenience if you look like them.
There’s little point in speculating on why every time I’ve arrived in St Lucia there has been a complete absence of anything approaching a welcoming smile from airport staff. Although friends and family have plenty of opinions, without asking them directly, we’ll never really understand why. Most would deny any difference in their treatment of passengers. It may even be so ingrained they wouldn’t genuinely recognise or understand their behaviour,
It’s a really, really good job that I’ve been here before and I love this country. I know that you don’t represent the country – because if I didn’t, I would never come back.
Not empirical, but real
But it’s been tested, by the fact that the fifth time I went to St Lucia in 2018 I went with a friend who happens to be white. And, there it was. Three passengers two black, one white – all three have the same address as their place of residence. I know it was the same, because I wrote the same address on all three immigration forms.
One walks through, no questions asked, and the other two have two explain what the address is – house? hotel? Who lives there? Who owns it? Not fun. Not good. And definitely something that has to change.