Trinidadian Geoffrey Holder is featured in the book A Wealth of Wisdom. (Photo by Donald Andrew Agarrat.)
"Trinidad has a British colonial class structure: what school did you go to, and who's your mother? Just like Charles Dickens, but with black faces. Strange!
I went to Queen's Royal College. It was very prestigious and expensive, but Daddy scrimped the pennies. I was a shy guy because I used to stammer. I couldn't speak. And I was dyslexic. I didn't know the word until Ennis Cosby made it known. It's important to know the word because otherwise you grow up feeling that you are a dunce when you can't read, or not well. Numbers also played games with me; I didn't know that was part of my dyslexia.
But I am blessed. I took it and I used it. If you cannot speak, you listen. Writers listen. If you cannot speak, you look. I can see better than somebody who talks too much. They're not looking. I walk the streets and I see the most beautiful people, people who don't even know they're beautiful. Gorgeous people. Not Hollywood gorgeous, basic beauty. What's beautiful is kindness and an attitude of respect for people. I'm a curious man. I'm seventy-one going on fifteen. And every day I go out, I see something for the first time."
FROM: A Wealth of Wisdom: Legendary African American Elders Speak, a new edition of which was published this year by Atria Books. A film about Holder and his wife, dancer Carmen de Lavallade, was this month awarded Best Film at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival. READ MORE here.