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Black History Month revisited


Editor: The celebration of Black History Month in SVG has become a controversial issue, not without reason for the stakes are indeed high. Some argue that it is but a reflection of the ever penetrating and negative influences of American cultural imperialism.

Several columnists have identified, rightly, that many positive influences emerged from the inescapable global tentacles of the monolith to the north of us. They cite the contributions of some of those leaders who have become household names among us: Malcolm, Martin, Hariett Tubman, Sojourner Truth; activists-scholars like Dubois, John Henrik Clarke, Cheik Anta Diop, Chancellor Williams. The Caribbean, too, produced leaders who carried the torch and quest of Africans for iberation, independence, dignity in the likes of Dessalines, Garvey and Kwame Toure, intellectual giants like Eric Williams, George Padmore, CLR James, Fanon, Walter Rodney as well as a host of writers and poets like Claude McKay. But perhaps therein lies the problem. {{more}}

This ‘dialogue’ or exchange between and among segments of the African diaspora that represented not only our continual struggle for socioeconomic upliftment but also for the larger, more profound creation of ‘cultural space’ has become blurred and perhaps to many one-sided.

Many of us in SVG and within and outside of the African world misconstrue these fledgling attempts by the African-American community to create cultural space and shape the environment in which they find themselves in their image and interest. We use these surface trappings of their indomitable quest as models on our path to


None of the aforementioned heroes or heroines would have conceived of or settled for a month of Our Story. The same can be said of their contemporaries, in the likes of scholar-activist Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanzaa; Molefi Asante who coined the term Afrocentricity and is a brain trust behind the Afrocentric paradigm, and Yosef Ben Jachannan, pan-africanist, author of Black Man of the Nile, Africa- Mother of Western Civilization and a grandfather of the Black Consciousness Movement.

The architects of a Black History Month for SVG must seek and find unique ways to transform our consciousness, particularly that of youth, for total liberation. They must look not only at the surface but also at the deep structure of culture. We like to believe, and rightly so, that we have created greater space. We must therefore create and build the institutions, the inextricable ‘interconnections’ and ‘networks’ within our culture that develop, fortify and unleash our human potential in ways that permit us to center ourselves in all areas of people activity, be it the past, present or future. We must envision and fashion a world in which every minute is a Black story minute, every day a Black story day. We must not engineer ‘structures’ that easily become fossilized, where household names of our warriors remain simply household names, rather than the living, self-reflective, self-conscious vehicles of cultural liberation, cultural change and continuity.

Dwight De Shong

Brooklyn, NY