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The mission of Black History – Part 2

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One way to look at Black History is to see it as an opening chapter of our story. Already, we have his story – the record which tells of events led by great men. We now also have her story – the unfolding of times past and present which shows us the female factors that affect the course of events. Eurocentric/white history has given us a picture of history in which Europeans and “whites” and their domains greed and genius – mainly male -are the makers of history.{{more}} There are also peoples and native History and Earth History. Peoples’ History removes the ruling elites from being the makers of history and shows the relations of working and technical and native people as the forces that make things move. Each History is my name for a discipline teaching that humans are not the only agents that propel history. Our Ecosystems, including the mountains, the rivers, the minerals, animals, plants the atmosphere, the whole biosphere and stratosphere, play their part and must be counted and respected. All of these neglected elements make our story, and it is the mission of Black History to bring them all into the house of Our History. Black history, in my view, must be ecumenical and evoke and conceive an enriching and unchained story, which may move beyond our natural species onto a new creation, not of our making.

There is no broad 10-lane highway from today’s black history to tomorrow’s our story. We build that path by crawling, by excavating with our fingers, by blasting and exploding away recalcitrant terrain and myths and by keeping the forces true. At times, we have to go back and clear away or bulldog a path that we hadn’t sufficiently protected and consolidated. To some extent, the effort of Miss Maia Eustace and others like Rastafari are part of this recovery and reinforcement campaign.

CAN WE TALK RACE?

Ms Eustace makes me remember that ‘sens mek befo buk’ but also that ‘nuff buk mek sens’. She speaks of and to our Vincentian community and her starting point is both her day by day episodes and observations, as well as more nuanced arguments. She blends a warm sensibility with an educated intellect and I am moved to stand at Maia’s side on her main thesis – that in our SVG, those of us with manifest Africans claims/chains, consciously and subconsciously disclaim and deny our esthetic value. We use as our standard for physical body preference the skin tone and other features of the Caucasian/white or light skin person. In 1970 or thereabouts, Professor Errol Miller of Jamaica documented this same phenomenon among Jamaican school students (Secondary) living in the heart of Rastafari. This is not a mild pathology.

Margaret Fontaine is a disturbed and unapologetic white racist, as her response to Maia Eustace declares. Yet, she may not be not beyond redemption. I agree with her that James Mitchell is not ‘white’, never was. Yet, when she offers her punch line at the close of her letter that “we are all Vincentians, black or white”, she was not opposing a Maia Eustace point. Like Ms Fontaine, Ms Eustace closed her letter with ‘we need…open discussion…by Vincentian of all races and opinions.

When Clive Thomas wrote his textbook on the political economy of ‘Dependence and Transformation’, he noted that racism had an autonomous dynamic’, it was built into the social and political economy. You didn’t have to push it, it had a vibrant life of its own. Other noted commentators say similar things in different words. John Goddard of Barbados claimed that blacks and whites had reached a settlement. Blacks would occupy politics, while whites would occupy the economy. Sidney Minty called that apartheid policy statement from Goddard “Ethnic Ripening”. He was pleased with it!

Certainly, open and therapeutic and clearing the way race talk and analysis and affirmation will help and I hope that others join Maia, Jomo, Margaret, Luzette, Ms Fontaine and others.

From my /Our/Black/ Story point of view, the story of black business in our region is not yet told. The Callinago-Garifuna native community was a subregional kind of common market. European writers of the colonial slave period pointed – with their own agendas -to slave enterprises. Post emancipation society was a space of new empire/kingdom building by blacks. Our post-1950 banana industry had a formidable business potential. White racism does not have a foot to stand on when we discover our story. That is what must empower our action and organization as we make history.

Talking race and Writing/Making Our Story come alive must converge and clear the path behind us and in front, to unchain our faith and liberate our futures.

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