PART 2 – (listen to Part 1 here)
Nanny of the Maroons was a legendary warrior and is one of Jamaica’s national heroes. She led a community of formerly enslaved Africans in the early 18th century and fought a guerrilla war over the course of a decade against British authorities who had colonised Jamaica.
In April 1740, and after suffering great losses, the British signed a peace treaty with Nanny to end the hostilities. The treaty provided for state sanctioned freedom for the Maroons and granted 500 acres of land to Nanny and her followers. Despite leading over a thousand slaves to freedom during her war with the British, a condition of the peace treaty demanded that Nanny and her forces would be called upon by the British to help capture and return runaway slaves to the plantations on the island.
And so, adversaries became collaborators.
This crucial element of slavery and colonialism ensured its success and leaves a legacy of disunity between people of African descent which they continue to reckon with 400 years later.
Slavery was maintained by more than just brutality, pain and torture. It employed a systematic destruction of any individual identity of worth, disabused you of any shared sense of community you might have otherwise harboured and enforced structures of hierarchy within disenfranchised peoples. It disincentivised unity within its systems of subjugation by ensuring there were some who were granted just enough privilege to feel as though they had something to lose through rebellion and set them at odds with those who had no privilege at all.
In May 2018, US rapper Kanye West, made some controversial comments suggesting that enslaved Africans made a ‘choice’ to remain enslaved. While his words speak to a hidden truth, his articulation of it caused a great deal of hurt and furore. It was a clumsy and inaccurate attempt to elucidate how these structures of slavery and colonialism could have remained intact for so long. It is something this article does a much better job in describing – https://aeon.co/ideas/how-did-slaveholders-in-the-caribbean-maintain-control
While the article focuses primarily on the era of chattle slavery, it also describes in less overt ways how white supremacy persists in the minds of many who are of African descent. It rationalises the enduring nature of self-hatred, the aspiration for ideals rooted in whiteness, the disunity among the diaspora and the rejection of our African heritage as expressions of our shared trauma.
Reflecting on the BLM protests which took place last year where people across the globe mobilised en masse, we now ask the question, “what next?” Clearly mobilising, while a powerful statement of intent, on its own is not enough to effect real and lasting change. Conversations still rage on as to whether or not racism, white privilege and systemic issues actually exist.
On this episode, I continue my conversation with Lewis as we talk about what the zenith of this sort of activism needs to look like. The answer can be summed up in a single word… Organisation. Its the dismantling of white supremacy in our minds and a concerted effort to build a sustainable legacy of black empowerment.
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In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.
Why it’s so hard to talk about the N-word | Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor: https://youtu.be/CVPl8jRaAqM
When The British Built Concentration Camps in Kenya: https://medium.com/all-history-and-no-play/when-the-british-built-concentration-camps-in-kenya-5a92bb7336f0
Jane Elliott Classroom Lecture Experiment Being Black: https://youtu.be/XYp5xkqTUjQ
Black Boys Viewed as Older, Less Innocent Than Whites: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/03/black-boys-older
Doll Test: https://youtu.be/tkpUyB2xgTM
Photo by Matthew Lancaster on Unsplash
One response to “Of African Descent: Decolonisation”
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