Donald Joseph Goines was born on December 15, 1936, in Chicago. Father Joseph and mother Myrtle were hardworking migrants from the South who had managed to open up their own cleaning store. Around 1940 the family, which included older sister Marie, relocated to Detroit and resumed the cleaning business. It was in the Motor City that, according to biographer Eddie B. Allen Jr., Goines started down a dark path.
My grandmother always reminds me: you have lost your mother-tongue. When I return to Sri Lanka for brief visits, she tells me how I used to understand her. Like my nephews and nieces do now when I was a child, I would listen to spoken Tamil and reply in English. There is nothing I can say to her accusation except to agree. Yes, I have lost my mother tongue, the words, the sounds, the rhythms of speaking to which I was born. I willfully lost this language, after we moved to Australia where my voice, my skin, my body continually marked me as foreign, different, other. As we all know, primary school children can be cruel: losing my mother-tongue was a way to survive.
The catastrophic 2017 hurricane season, which included two category 5 storms, briefly thrust the islands of the Caribbean to the forefront of the U.S. news cycle. The deadly hurricanes highlighted the Caribbean’s heightened vulnerability to weather-related disasters and the devastating effects of climate change.