Juliet Kirchner


As Interviewed by Sheri Vance, March 15, 2017

Juliet Kirchner: In Her Own Words

I didnít know very much at all. I was going on an emergent trip and I knew that they spoke French, and I knew that the majority of the island -the population of the majority of the island- were black, and that was pretty much all I knew.

I just stayed very quiet, and [the racism on the island] was a little shocking , and I kind of just had to stay quiet about it. I was afraid to get upset about it.
I had a roommate, and she didnít seem as upset about it, but yes, I had one roommate.

[Did that help any?]

Oh, definitely. Had I not had my roommate, I probably would have cried every night.
It was a lot of ugly stares -looks- and I soon had to learn what I was allowed and not allowed to do as a white person.
They just really did not like white Americans, and so there were times where we were not allowed to use their public transportation.
I think it was just such a shock, truly being a minority there that, you know, you kind of start trying to look for people who are white so that you donít feel so awkward, and I honestly donít remember seeing very many white citizens.

[Did the family that you stayed with treat you better than the other people?]

The mother- letís see, it was a mother, and I believe two daughters, and the father. The father was awful. He was very, very strict, and I didnít see him very often, I learned that he was working nights, and he was just a very serious man and never engaged in conversation with me. One of the daughters was also kind of rude to us, but the mother was very, very sweet.

I think I was there two weeks, and I think it worsened just because I wanted to get out of there so bad, so I was just counting the hours. I guess it worsened, not because they were any different towards me, but just because I was very uncomfortable all the time.

I think a lot of countries, a lot of poor countries are resentful of the western world, and I think Guadeloupe is just a very poor country, but I think it was just resentment more than anything.

Not every single citizen was degrading to white people, but they just -you could just sense an energy from the majority of the citizens.

I guess it just brought more of an awareness to me on how, coming back to the United States, I guess just being more sensitive to the black community in the states and kind of trying to understand maybe what they feel when they perhaps feel even just the slightest bit of racism towards them. It definitely brought an awareness that I never had before.