December 21, 2005 - Vol 1 #5
Meet Caroline Henrius
Who is Caroline Henrius?
That is a surprisingly hard question to answer. I'm struggling with it, actually. I am a champion of love and an enemy of racism and disparity. I've fought racism through three generations - rebelling against it from childhood in my family of origin (an act that got me disowned), rejected it completely in my children's generation (my first grandchild is bi-racial), and now with my grandchildren who live very multi-cultural lives. I've loved and do love many many people a LOT
and I AM loved -- almost more than I can bear to think about because it is so humbling. And I'm grateful to a crazy extreme. Nowadays, almost every moment is a celebration of life and I plan to keep it that way. It's snowing here right now and I will probably be out there making snow angels as soon as it's deep enough. I'm an artist, a humanitarian, a lover, a lover, a lover, a comedian, and a fiery redhead.
Where did you grow up for the most part? Where do you live now for the most part?
I grew up in the south, for the most part. My father was an AirForce man so we travelled a lot. I remember living in Oklahoma, Minnesota, Lousiana, Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee, Iowa... for the most part.
How do your youth experiences relate to your life as an adult?
Probably my love for travel and learning about new people. I get bored if I've been in one spot long... I get thirsty for a new adventure.
Are you the person that you wanted to be as you grew up?
I don't think I had a clue who I wanted to be when I was a kid. I suffered from neurological problems then that I no longer have now and consequently it seems like two different lives. I would say that I think I am a kinder, more humanitarian person than I had thought I'd be. I guess I had dreams of more superficial value, and now I measure my worth in very different ways.
How did your physical and social environment impact your personal development? Are they conducive today to your own sense of fulfillment?
My family struggled financially and I struggled with health issues and I think it made me very resillient and gave me a deep appreciation of life, health, love and friends.
Tell us about your activities in general and your special interests.
The one thing I have been since I was a small child and will always be till the day I die is a singer. Other things change, like my hair color, place of resident, preferences in styles and my married state... but one thing I will always be at my core is a songbird. I sang for the neighborhood folks at the corner grocery store when I was barely two years old, did my first professional gig when I was 14 and have sang one way or another ever since. I sang classical, jazz, blues, pop, funk, appalachian folk, caribbean, haitian... everything. Now I'm singing black gospel and considering auditioning for a recording/touring choir.
I am a humanitarian/anthropologist and a case manager for folks with disabilities. I love things African, Caribbean, and/or Creole. I used to live in a little lean to shack in the middle of the Atchafalaya River Basin in southern Louisiana. I carried my water, fished for a living and learned to play a mean Zydeco accordion. I've lived in Haiti. I've lived in the middle of the plains in a farm house with only a woodstove and made it through a few winters choppin down trees. That was fun.
I guess I like just about anything that's colorful, interesting and real. Any kind of melange turns me on. But most of all I am interested in expressing my joy... well, just to be alive. I do that by loving people, singing, dancing and laughing.
What is your perception of the community or communities in which you are currently engaged - or - that you wish to belong to, on a long term basis?
My life is deeply embedded in the black, urban community. Its where I work, love, sing, go to church... and is where I get my inspiration and encouragement. I also enjoyed my life in the Haitian community but there aren't many Haitian where I live now and so I miss that a lot. I also am a member of a small subculture of peace activists/folk musicians and we get together ocassionally to play music and talk about changing the world.
What would you consider the biggest challenge to the development or betterment of your community/communities?
Prejudice from the dominant culture and our own lack of self esteem.
What are your persistent hopes and most frequent fears?
My most persistent hopes are:
To be loved as I love.
To be able to express my passions and joys freely.
Social Justice for African Peoples everywhere.
Peace and equality.
My most frequent fears:
That someone I love would be sad, hurt, hungry or injured.
Other than that, I ain't afraid
What is your most cherished dream?
Justice and equality for African peoples everywhere.
To be loved as I love.
To be able to make a difference in the world.
To sing my heart out. (a dream often fulfilled)
Now suppose, just suppose, that we grant you ten million dollars for doing this interview, with the stipulation that you must spend it in 24 hours or less, what would you do?
Establish a foundation for the preservation of Afro-Caribbean culture and establishment of social justice and name myself the CEO.
Now suppose, just suppose, that you knew for certain that you had one week (7 days) to live, how would you spend your time?
Making a CD for all the people I love.
Is there a world leader (past or present) in any field (arts, science, rights, political, spiritual, etc) that you most admire?
Martin Luther King Jr.
Leave us a parting word.
You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. Maybe someday you will join us, and the world may live as one.
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