Recognized as the number one digital platform for Caribbean history and culture, “Know Your Caribbean” was started as a way to fill the overwhelming void of online information about the region. When St. Lucian-born artist and filmmaker Fiona Compton was unable to easily find facts about her home country and its neighbors while working on a project back in 2017, she took it upon herself to make it more available. She became a historian, researcher, writer, podcaster, among other roles, in order to unearth, present and promote the culture she loved.
Know Your Caribbean loops in history from all over the region, including influence from Black/African, Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern and European history to make sure every Caribbean country and its unique past is represented.
What’s your Caribbean connection?
I was born and raised in the beautiful Saint Lucia, the heart and soul of the Caribbean. After some time in the halls of a very white-centered university left me feeling out of sync, I decided to dive deep into Caribbean history, becoming a historian, filmmaker, artist and the founder of Know Your Caribbean.
What exactly is Know Your Caribbean and the goal of the organization?
Know Your Caribbean is not just a website or a social media platform — it’s a real Caribbean lime filled with history, culture and vibes. It’s where the past meets the present in a lively mix of films, photographs, art and a podcast all telling our stories of our deep history and culture. I felt like we need to re-learn ourselves and also celebrate ourselves! I felt we needed to challenge the lack of good Caribbean information out there. Know Your Caribbean is like a treasure chest of untold stories.
It’s not just facts, it’s a celebration of Caribbean voices challenging the norm. That’s all that it is, from Dutch, French, Spanish, English, Kweyol and Patois speaking countries. Throw in some Papiamentu as well — we cover it all.
How did you get involved in this work?
After university, I was feeling totally disenfranchised. So, I picked up my camera and started making films, telling stories of resistance in the Caribbean. It’s like bringing the fire of Carnival to a history lesson. Over time I decided to transfer these creative skills to fuel Know Your Caribbean, making history as vibrant as any day in the Caribbean. Know Your Caribbean came to be when I couldn’t find good Caribbean information for my projects. Frustrating, right? So, I decided to create a place where you could find the real juice about the Caribbean, beyond the usual tourist brochures and traditional history books.
What sparked your interest in history and storytelling?
History and storytelling? It’s in my blood! My parents made sure of that, even when they weren’t trying to. My parents were involved in both history and politics, so I grew up in cultural events, hearing politicians battle and seeing my mother unearth Kalinago axe heads from the soil. Everything I was surrounded by was about our stories. Know Your Caribbean is all about flipping the script on how we tell our history, making sure every island gets a say.
Talk about Know Your Caribbean’s reach
People are really connecting with the resources they find through Know Your Caribbean. I am proud to have seen my writings on display as far as Copenhagen, and to have people from all over the world, not just in the Caribbean, reach out to say they love learning about the region. Over a million global accounts hit us up monthly, soaking in the greatness that is the Caribbean.
What are some ground-breaking findings you’ve had throughout this experience?
We’ve uncovered gems in the archives, like enslaved ancestors who rebelled through poison, through the cutlass, looking at our connections to Africa in our everyday language and cuisine, and of course music. There are too many to count!
Curated events were like a carnival for Caribbean culture. From dancehall vibes at Soho House to history walks with ‘The World Reimagined,’ we brought the Caribbean flavor. Meta, Reddit, Hearst Publishing and Soho House and so many others received a taste of the vibrant Caribbean heritage.
Talk about your Instagram takeovers!
Instagram takeovers are meant to show that Know Your Caribbean is not one voice, but many. We really want to make sure we champion Caribbean perspectives. It’s a collective of diverse voices, showcasing the richness of the Caribbean. Artists, fellow historians, filmmakers.
And you mentioned a podcast?
The Know Your Caribbean Podcast covers everything you can think of about the Caribbean, listened to in over 150 countries. We’re chatting about everything under the Caribbean sun—Christianity, enslavement, African spirituality, history of Carnival —things you won’t find on the site or socials. It’s the real Caribbean vibe that allows me to go deeper where I can’t on social media.
How can people connect with Know Your Caribbean?
Are there any upcoming projects you’re looking forward to in 2024?
In 2024, we’re diving into projects that heal the wounds of colonial legacies. It’s about working with, supporting and healing our communities. Look out for more in person events for sure! It’s the next chapter in the Caribbean story, and it’s going to be epic. Stay tuned.