‘We are not a racist family’ - Sister defends Ann-Marie Vaz’s humble beginnings
Trisha Thompson, sister of Ann-Marie Vaz, prospective Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate for the East Portland by-election, has pushed back against comments of classism and racism, saying that the “typical Jamaican family” had humble beginnings.
“I use that word to say ‘typical’ on the basis where family that is considered a broken home where their parents aren’t necessarily married. So while our grandma, she was married and she had her children, ... not all of her children got married, which included our beloved mother,” Thompson told The Gleaner yesterday, adding that the she and Ann-Marie had different fathers.
“We are not a racist family. We are not a classist family. We are not a colourism family. We’re not ... . That is foreign to us. That’s what I like to describe as an unknown place that you [are] taking my family to because that’s not how we were raised. We were raised to be humble, tight-knit, hard-working family and were raised with value on education,” she charged.
The two grew up with their grandmother, mother, and other relatives in a family house located in the Duff House district on the border of St Elizabeth and Manchester.
Vaz, whose maiden name is Lyew, attended Bull Savannah Basic School then New Forest Primary and Junior High before passing her Common Entrance Exam to attend Hampton School.
“At some point, she used to spend a night or two with our relatives in Dunder Hill because of the walking … . What she had to do, you know, she had to walk all the way from Duff House to a place called Bull Savannah to get the Hampton bus,” Thompson recounted.
After leaving Hampton, Vaz attended Alpha Academy and Excelsior Community College before going on to The University of the West Indies, Mona, to further her studies.
Vaz, who will turn 53 on March 13, was also an Air Jamaica flight attendant before she joined the business of her former husband, Christopher Wood, as the marketing manager. The 10-year union produced two children.
Thompson, who is nine years younger than Vaz, said that her sister played an instrumental role in her education up to the tertiary level.
“She actually sent me to school,” Thompson said.
Vaz has been married to West Portland Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz for the past 16 years. Although the couple has one child together, Thompson said that her sister also considers the two children her husband had previously as her own.