Our Readers' Opinions
July 30, 2010
Importance of Emancipation celebrations

by Maxwell Haywood Fri, Jul 30, 2010

August is Emancipation Month in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). But why should we bother ourselves with these kinds of historical celebrations?

It has been demonstrated many times that when people are genuinely engaged with their history, the quality of their lives improves significantly.{{more}} They become more confident in themselves, and this confidence assists them to become more resilient, more humane, and more just. This is one of the main purposes emancipation celebrations are supposed to serve. It is, therefore, essential that society consciously and positively promote its historical and cultural memory.

When the nation celebrates or marks the critical milestones in its culture, it will be good to see everyone involved in such celebrations. But there are always detractors who oppose these celebrations.

Celebrations of important milestones in black people’s history often meet with resistance. One of the arguments is that when society celebrates black people’s history, it is at the same time encouraging hate for people who are not black especially white people. This argument is dangerous for both white and black people because it robs them of opportunities to heal and correct past wrongs committed against black people during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Histories intertwined

Promoting the awareness of black people’s history also empowers white people by making them more aware of their history with black people. Neither white nor black people could be fully free while racism permeates their societies. The histories of both black and white people have been intertwined for a long time now. This relationship is marked outstandingly by trauma, brutality, and robbery. As a result, both races need psychological healing. Moreover, it is extremely important and essential to establish that full justice would help black people to recover the wealth stolen from them.

Emancipation celebrations could greatly benefit white people because they were not told the truth about their history in relation to black people. Living on racial falsehoods is a spiritually painful experience. The European slave masters brainwashed white people into thinking that their inhumane treatment of black people during chattel slavery has been a good and godly thing to do. The history white people have been taught is one in which black people are treated as if they were savages, pagans, heathens and uncivilized.

Racism promotes hatred

Racism promotes hatred and makes white people believe that their skin color puts them in a superior position to other darker skinned people. Maintaining a racist way of life could be costly and dysfunctional for whites. White people are recognizing this fact, and many are trying to correct it. Emancipation celebrations should be an instrument toward promoting this recognition, and it should serve to promote actions to eradicate the destructive vestiges of chattel slavery.

Similarly, black people were taught to hate themselves. Black people were taught that they were savages and Europeans came to save them from damnation. No wonder that black people feel and act in self-destructive ways. This is why up to this day many black people do not want to hear anything about their history, even if that history or cultural memory could be instrumental to their development and success in life.

Many are ashamed of their history. There is the thinking that we were always slaves or deserved to be slaves. This kind of mind set is because of the lies promoted by those with a vested interest in keeping black people ignorant of their history. Most of the books about black people’s history begin at the time when chattel slavery started. However, what about black people’s history before chattel slavery?

Reclaiming history

Black people are descendents of great civilizations that existed many years before chattel slavery. Their achievements and contributions to world civilization and humanity have been nothing short of greatness. However, this knowledge has been hidden from them for a long time. Nevertheless, that knowledge exists in abundance. That knowledge will show in no uncertain terms that black people have walked this earth way before 1500 with grace, spirituality and religion, creativity, knowledge, wisdom, skills, humanity, dignity and courage.

Emancipation celebrations are supposed to assist us in reclaiming this history and to teach the descendents of the white race, who must keep on learning how their rulers have perpetuated chattel slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism against Africa and its children at home and abroad. The whole world would be a better place when no race thinks and acts superior over another.

Moreover, one of the major reasons for the continued state of economic, political, and social instability is the fact that as a nation of mainly black people, SVG has not as yet defeated the legacy of chattel slavery in the society. The state of dependency of the nation is rooted in this legacy. The nation has missed many opportunities in the past to correct the situation. Let us who are the descendents of Youlou, Africa, Europe and Asia use Emancipation Day celebrations to continue to hammer the nails in the coffin in which lies the deadly legacy of chattel slavery.