In an interview with Island Origins magazine, the founder of one of the top digital platforms for Caribbean history and culture, Saint Lucian filmmaker Fiona Compton, discusses what led her to launch, “Know Your Caribbean,” which she describes as a “celebration of Caribbean voices.”
What’s included at “Know Your Caribbean”
Compton notes that “Know Your Caribbean” is not only a website or a social media platform, but that it is a place that informs and educates its visitors about the history, culture, and vibes of the real Caribbean. She says it is a place where the past and present meet in film, photographs, art, and a podcast, and all of these elements tell the stories of the region’s “deep history” and culture. Compton’s motivation for the project stems from her belief that Caribbean people need to “re-learn ourselves and also celebrate ourselves.” Due to a lack of information about the region, “Know Your Caribbean” was designed as a “treasure chest of untold stories,” and it does not only provide facts, but a celebration of voices from the Caribbean “challenging the norm.” For example, it covers English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Kweyol, and Patois-speaking countries, along with some Papiamentu as well.
Compton’s Caribbean Connection
Compton’s background includes filmmaking, which she began after graduating from the university and feeling “disenfranchised.” She began telling stories about resistance in the Caribbean, and over time, transferred her skills to “Know Your Caribbean” when she was unable to find good information about the Caribbean for her projects. She wanted to provide a place that would tell people more than what they would find in traditional history books and tourist brochures. She stated that her parents made sure to pass on their love of history and storytelling to her, and as both were involved in history and politics, she was raised on political battles and archeological discoveries like the Kalinago axe heads found by her mother.
Compton Finds Her Audience and Makes Discoveries
Compton has been gratified by seeing how people are connecting with the resources they find at Know Your Caribbean, and she is proud to have seen her writings displayed around the world. She also appreciates the fact that people worldwide reach out to tell her how they enjoy learning about the region. “Know Your Caribbean” has more than 1 million global accounts that visit the project each month. Through unexpected discoveries from the archives to curated events and dancehall vibes, Compton has brought Caribbean culture to major media sites like Meta, Reddit, and Hearst Publishing.
In addition to the website, “Know Your Caribbean” fosters “Instagram takeovers,” which are meant to show that the platform showcases many voices from the Caribbean, including those of artists, historians, and filmmakers. Compton also offers a podcast that covers everything about the Caribbean, which is heard in over 150 countries. Podcast chats cover many things that are not covered on the site or on social media, such as enslavement, African spirituality, and Christianity.
Plans for the future of “Know Your Caribbean” include projects that will seek to heal the wounds inflicted via colonial legacies. Compton wants to work with communities to support and heal them. She also plans to stage more in-person events and invites everyone to stay tuned to the “next chapter” of the Caribbean story. “It’s going to be epic,” she promised.