Wednesday, April 17, 2024

A new side of slavery for us all to see

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THOSE?OF?US BARBADIANS whose ancestors endured decades upon decades of relentless dehumanization and the terror of death upon protest are being asked to observe the positive side of slavery. Genealogist Sandra Taitt-Eaddy says it is time for us to recognize that we are here because our enslaved ancestors chose to live.
It is not a proposition unheard of before, and it is ever likely to be offered again. Ms Taitt-Eaddy posits that Barbadians throughout the diaspora and of such descendency ought not to be ashamed of their background of slavery, but instead learn to value this ancestral heritage.
The United States-based Barbadian genealogist, participating on Tuesday in the family history workshop Ancestry Research: An Introduction at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, told a large gathering that to dwell on slavery as “what was done to us” was a mistake; that it was more favourable to consider “what we were able to do to it” and that “we survived”.
Presenting the view at the Second Diaspora Conference, Ms Taitt-Eaddy opined: “When I do this work [genealogy], and I look at all that these people had to overcome, and that we are still here, we are here because they chose to live.”
For many it will be easier said than done; for though many a slave descendant today earns much more and lives far grander than an enslaved ancestor could possibly have imagined – boosted by a more progressive, political social and educational programmes, as in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean, and civil rights legislation and affirmative action, as in the United States, it does not mean the people of the region and of America have exactly shaken the direful legacy.
The woeful imagery we were painted of slavery in the Caribbean and the United States, and the degradation of human life it brought with it have not been conducive to eager placement in memory. It is a painful history many would naturally prefer to forget.
Yet Ms Taitt-Eaddy’s submission is not to be dismissed as without merit.
“We need to begin to value our ancestors and what they have persevered in to make sure that generations later we can stand here,” she argues.
We do not take it that the genealogist is seeking to sanitize the old and horrid circumstance of slavery, where our ancestors were victim to blatant atrocities done with the full knowledge and approval of the powers that be of the day. We ourselves proffer that Ms Taitt-Eaddy instead would have us ready mentally and maturely to deal with a happening, over which we yet have absolutely no control, as we delve into the annals of our archives, pursuing our family trees to the very summit.
In this mindset we could forge firm healing.

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