Installation Shot

About this Conversation

Little Cayman, poem by James Stone Goodman

Kim's blog on Neve Shalom

Joan Lipkin

Kim Mosley

. . . the haves and Have Nots (mouseover)

Little Cayman, British West Indies
Saturday, March 18, 2006

Dear Kim:

Today, I am thinking about privilege. More specifically, white privilege. Actually, I have been thinking about it pretty much since we have arrived. It is hard to stay in a place that was colonized by westerners and where the workers are almost exclusively people of color, and to not think about race and class. At least for me, it is.

Last night was the last dinner at the resort for a large diving club from the Washington DC area. Jim, the manager, asked them all to come into the dining room and brought out some of the staff to introduce them by name. Except for Ronal from Honduras, they were all from Jamaica and had come to Little Cayman on work permits.

“This is Junior and Chubby and Carmen. Chef Tucker and Louie and Denvil,” he said. “These are a few of the people who work behind the scenes to make your stay pleasant.”

Everyone applauded and then went back to their tables. I heard one person say, “So that’s who that is.”

My sister wondered if the manager had given them the names of some of the staff to encourage tipping, even though that is supposedly included in the bill.

I didn’t know. But I thought it was backwards to learn the names and positions of people at the end of a stay instead of at the beginning. Especially since the staff is really not behind the scene. They are an integral part of the scene. Bringing food to the tables, removing dishes, sweeping and cleaning, making things beautiful. They seem to be in constant motion.

(Kim: So all men are created equal? Where did that come from? How rarely do we operate on that premise?

Do we feel better when we put down others? Do animals replicate this crazy behavior?

Does this really come down to the relationship between the haves and have nots?)

Given the staff’s visibility, and that we all interact with them, I wondered why it is necessary for the manager to do the introducing

Like when you enter the dining room and Junior says, “Good evening, I’m Junior. What is your room number?“

Why can’t someone say, “Hi, I’m So and So from Such and Such. Nice to meet you, Junior. How are you this evening?”

But I rarely saw that happen. And I want to know why.

What is it that prevents someone from introducing themselves?

Are they shy?

Do they think it is inappropriate for some reason?

Do they not want to extend themselves if they are on vacation?

Do they not see the person who is making their vacation possible?

I truly want to know the answers. Because, if we know the answers, maybe there is a possibility of making things different. And they need to be different. They really do.