"Alexa, Play Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift"

Tamar Harison Blog 3

Tamar Harrison

2nd Year, MPH Candidate

Tamar Harrison 3

“It's me, hi, I'm the problem, it's me. At teatime, everybody agrees. I'll stare directly at the sun
but never in the mirror. It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero.”

Taylor Swift is an American sweetheart. However, in this song she says the quiet part out loud.
Often, we rarely are vulnerable enough with others or ourselves to admit that we might be the
problem. That we might be causing harm. That we are the “anti-hero” in this story called life.
We tell ourselves all types of distorted and augmented versions of reality to deflect and not
deal with the problem at hand: us. Similar to how I started my Grenadian experience, I will
conclude it in same vein: reflecting on my existence, story, and the greater implications of doing
public health work in global contexts. Despite being invited into Grenada by our partners to do
this work and being one of many students that have been blessed to partake in such an
amazing opportunity, Taylor Swift’s song was a little voice in the back of my mind. I was
reminded that no matter my social status in the context of the US, I was a privileged American
in every other context. In fact, while in Grenada, I often found myself apologizing for things that
I can’t frankly be held accountable for, however in some ways I felt responsible to at least offer
an apology. I thought that someone needed to at least acknowledge the decades of wrongdoing
and harm caused onto the people of Grenada in and the past and today. Whether directly or
indirectly, people in the global north benefit from the exploitation of the global south.
However, I was called to do a job and became increasingly content with the fact that I was the
“anti-hero” in this story.

Additionally, I knew that no was looking at me to be their savior but
rather a colleague, teammate, and friend. Instead of wallowing in guilt and grief about
decisions and outcomes I had no direct influence over, I decided to focus on what I did have
control over: my words and actions. In every conversation with Grenadians, I only asked
questions and tried to take on the role of active listener and learner. This was difficult for me
because I am talkative by nature, and in conversations I try to make connections between my
life and those I converse with. I realized that sometimes silence can be good and that I didn’t
have to share details about myself unless asked because many conversations weren’t about
me, nor were they supposed to be. They were about the people and communities I had been
called to serve. Thus, I expressed words of affirmation and gratitude when appropriate and as
often as possible.

In hindsight, I may have tried too hard to dull myself and may have come off as inauthentic
because I wasn’t being myself. Even in my self-deprecating self-reflection about my experience
in Grenada, I can still identify reasons to be grateful for my time there: sun, sand, Shandy, sails,
sculptures, spices, saltfish, and most importantly, sweet, shared memories and solidaritybuilding between myself and the Grenadians I met. Moreover, I was able capture the contactinformation of some of the beautiful people I interacted with, and I intend to continue to involve our partners in an empowering and power-sharing process toward Black diasporic

“Alexa, play Toast by Koffee next!”
While Koffee is not Grenadian, she is a Caribbean gyal and reggae artist, a popular music genre
on the island among dancehall, calypso and soca. For reggae, much of its lyrics are inspired by
Rastafari, an Afro-, ecocentric Christian ideology, religion, and way of life. The influence and
importance of reggae was evident in the murals, portraits, and paintings I saw of Bob Marley
and Haile Selassie adorning rum shops and homes across the country. Upon seeing this, I
instantly felt more connected to the people and spaces of Grenada because many of my own
values, ethics, and beliefs align with Rastafarianism.

In “Toast”, Koffee wails: Blessings all pon mi life and Mi thank God fi di journey, di earnings a jus
fi di plus (yeah)… Gratitude is a must (yeah). Koffee’s words perfectly embody my concluding
sentiments about my time in Grenada. I thank Jah (God) for granting me the ability to be on the
journey I am on as an emerging public health professional. I am honored that Grenada and it’s
people allowed me to be apart of their story and walk alongside them in their journey, even if it
was only for 8 days.