The day the British Empire announced the end of slavery has come and gone 188 times and the descendants of both slavers and slaves seem not to have committed themselves to a realistic new arrangement. The Brits have kept their grip on the lives of the emancipated with the consent of succeeding generations by means of a snail-paced empowerment, leading many of us in the emancipated progeny to utterly reject the French, Canadian, American and British imagination of freedom. The creative spirit and process have provided valuable sustenance for the unfinished journey into a dignified liberation, against the conservative values of yesterday’s greatness.
The British government gave my ancestors neither hoe, cutlass, bucket or land when they proclaimed emancipation. A few brave women and men knew it and have been the inspiration for alternate forms of civic society. People who are just waking up in Barbados and Jamaica to weak-kneed parliamentary democracy are not much of a role model for the generation that will lead Black people into their own just, pluralistic and indigenous communities.
Waiting for others to define our future is a waste of time. It is the reason that Black people are still divided, inspired by the leaders of the same kind of government that enslaved us in the first place. Luminaries of the struggle in North America and in the islands of the Caribbean over more than 40 generations may look like flickering candles in an age when the Holy See travels to Canada to apologize for its role in a horribly immoral colonial enterprise. May the lamps surviving among us change the course of education and empowerment.