Only some of us are emancipated and independent – Valerie Dixon
Coordinator of the Marcus Garvey Fair and author of Too Black to Succeed: The FINSAC Experience, Valerie Dixon, says Jamaicans have a warped view of emancipation and can only be truly emancipated if there is a fortification of the mind through research.
“We were taught that some white people suddenly loved us and decided they were going to free us. Nothing could be further from the truth … Contrary to how some people would like to see black people, not everyone was subservient. Some people did try to remove the shackles of slavery and they fought for they freedom … .”
She said it was as a result of these rebellions throughout the island that sugar cane planting dwindled and sugar production dropped.
“No longer could the white planters rely on the enslaved Africans for labour, so by this time the conquest of India proved more lucrative for the British … .We were taught in our history books that people were abolitionist, but what they never taught us was that some of the leading abolitionists had no interest in the slaves’ welfare.”
In challenging the status quo, Dixon said these are uncomfortable truths that must be aired, though it does not suit the powers that be.
“It is full time for us to stop and think, and I am really hoping that our future generation will not be as gullible ... thinking that if it is from a textbook, then it must be so. Only some of us are emancipated and independen. As Jamaicans, we don’t know whether we are fish or fowl, we are just going along. Anything that they say, as long as certain people said it, we will go along with it and we stop thinking. The shackles are now around our brain.”
She said the socio-economic inequality among Jamaicans is a glaring representation of our captivity.
“Why is it that you have one set of Jamaicans living a certain ways and another set living a certain way? And you will hear Jamaica doesn’t have a colour problem but a class problem. But any day you show me a ghetto in the same way Jamaica is mixed by population, I will say that is true”
She said: “We have to begin to get to the point where we see that something is wrong. It has been 400 years, and it is just a sprinkling of us that can truly say that we live comfortable lives. I have written about that awful financial meltdown that destroyed 44,000 mainly black Jamaicans, and if we go back in our history, we see that the exact same thing happened during the Morant Bay Rebellion.”
Dixon unapologetically stated that too many people are disinterested in their history and fail to see how it affects them in the 21st century.
“You have a fowl coop filled with fowl. These fowls have been in a terrible situation and in the goodness of my heart, I say I am going to emancipate them. I open the door and let them out, without corn, water, and I don’t direct them to a place – many of them survived and fend for themselves.”
She continued “The very people who owned those fowls, you look at them and say, you have lost so much money because you no longer have these fowls that can give you eggs and meat, so we are going to give you some money for losing those fowls, and that money is called reparation. What did you give to the fowl? Not even water; and that was emancipation.”
She said people get excited for roads and other basic amenities because they don’t know what they are entitled to.
“What do we get out of emancipation? The dancing, the merriment, the enjoyment and a lot of culture that, thank God, we were able to retain. We have not been true to ourselves and as a result, anyone can come and take advantage of us and we will just sit back and allow it happen.”