The trans-Atlantic slave trade displaced millions of individuals from the continent of Africa and dispersed them to the various ports of North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe. For the descendants of those subjugated to involuntary servitude throughout all these countries, many of us struggle to uncover our history. Not our contemporary history, which began the around the 16TH century with most brutal documentation of slavery that ever existed, but before that time.
What language did we speak before some of us were dropped in the Caribbean while others from the same slave ship were dropped in the US and those that remained were brought to Europe? What was our spiritual identity? What was our ancestor’s names before they were sold and given the surname of the ones that purchased them, who then became their owner?
These are questions that we struggle with all the time. As we become acclimated with our newfound “liberty” from our captors in our various revolutionary battles, we also struggle with uncovering our actual identity. An identity that represents us, not one we have become a part of or subject to.
If we really dig deep, we will find that history and language has been removed from us and been replaced with the history of the countries that we were forced to build. Once we gained our independence from the America captors, the Caribbean colonizers, and the European masters, we found that our history only goes as far back as our captors told us.
Evidence and court documents from legislative battles over the legality of slavery have shown that ship captains kept specific records, manifests related to all cargo, including persons that were transported through the “Middle Passage.” Yet when we were freed the historical documents related to us were not turned over to us. We were not given the opportunity to return to our home because no one has told us where it is.
So as we are engaged in one of the most volatile climates in US History, a climate that mirrors the 1860’s, the years before the Civil War; and the 1960’s the years surrounding the Civil Rights movement, we need to take this as an opportunity to understand who we are so we can determine where do we go from here to determine who we can be.