[Blackstudies-l] What’s Emancipation Day to the Caribbean Working-class?

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Tue Aug 2 09:22:15 EDT 2016


lisaparavisini posted: " An opinion piece by Dr. Ajamu Nangwaya for TeleSur
While it is great to commemorate Emancipation Day, this day must also be
used to reflect, critique, assess, deliberate and plan for the next year of
struggle. On 1 August 1838, enslaved Africans in t"
Respond to this post by replying above this line
New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/> What’s Emancipation
Day to the Caribbean Working-class?
<http://repeatingislands.com/2016/08/01/whats-emancipation-day-to-the-caribbean-working-class/>
by
lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>

[image: Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 11.48.01 PM.png]

An opinion piece by Dr. Ajamu Nangwaya for TeleSur
<http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Whats-Emancipation-Day-to-the-Caribbean-Working-class-20160801-0006.html>

While it is great to commemorate Emancipation Day, this day must also be
used to reflect, critique, assess, deliberate and plan for the next year of
struggle.

On 1 August 1838, enslaved Africans in the British Empire won their
emancipation from slavery. Emancipation Day is now commemorated throughout
the Anglophone Caribbean as a public holiday or national observance.
Emancipation was not a gift from Britain or White abolitionists. It came
from the accumulated covert and overt acts of resistance by enslaved
Africans.

Under the leadership of Jamaica’s Sam Sharpe, he and his enslaved comrades
made the decision to carry out a general strike if the capitalist enslavers
did not pay for the former’s labour after Dec. 25, 1831. British
colonialism engaged in a show of military force in response to the threat
of a general strike.

The insurgents initiated the Emancipation Rebellion on Dec. 28, 1831. The
1831-32 Emancipation Rebellion involved about 60,000 of the island’s
300,000 enslaved Africans. They destroyed one hundred and forty-five
plantations valued at two hundred thousand pounds (£200,000). Close to two
hundred rebels and fourteen whites were killed in the rebellion.

However, this attempt at emancipation from below forced the British to
abolish slavery from above by passing the Act for the Abolition of Slavery
on Aug. 28, 1833. The legislation took effect on Aug. 1, 1834 with the
introduction of the slavery-like Apprenticeship system
<https://www.academia.edu/7284448/The_Process_of_Freedom_in_Jamaica_Apprenticeship_being_the_last_stage_of_slavery_than_the_first_stage_of_freedom>.
It was used to extract 40.5 hours per week of free labour from Africans
under the guise of preparing them for full freedom in six years.

The “apprentices” were supposed to be paid for 13.5 per hours of labour per
week after the stipulated hours of unpaid work. The resistance of Africans
to the continued exploitation of their labour power and the physical
violence of the planters led to Britain’s abandonment of the Apprenticeship
regime on Aug. 1, 1838.

What is the meaning of Emancipation Day to the African-Caribbean
working-class? Emancipation Day sends a clear message to the labouring
classes that capitalism exploited their ancestors’ labour under chattel
slavery and is doing the same to theirs under wage slavery. Capitalism
denies African workers the right to control how their labour is used and
the fruit of collective work (profit) is distributed.

What is the meaning of Emancipation Day to the African-Caribbean
working-class? Emancipation Day is a continued reminder of the need for
British imperialism to pay reparations for the enslavement of Africans and
colonial exploitation. British imperialism paid twenty million pounds
(£20,000,000) to the White capitalist enslavers for losing their “property”
- enslaved Africans. The emancipated Africans did not get a penny for their
unpaid labour and inhumane and brutal treatment during slavery.

What is the meaning of Emancipation Day to the African-Caribbean
working-class? Emancipation Day is a mocking memo to the African labouring
classes that they live in societies in which they do not exercise political
power over economic and social policies that impact their lives.

During slavery, the capitalist planters and British colonialism controlled
the legislative assemblies and executive power. In the (in)dependent states
of the Caribbean, the bourgeoisie or middle-class elements are in full
control of the political system – not the masses.

What is the meaning of Emancipation Day to the African-Caribbean
working-class? Emancipation Day is an annual announcement to the labouring
classes that anti-African racism is still a source of oppression and
exploitation in their lives. In countries across the region, people with
high stereotypical African features (darker skin, broader nose and thicker
lips) are usually clustered at the bottom of society.

What is the meaning of Emancipation Day to the African-Caribbean
working-class? Emancipation Day is a painful reminder that working-class
African women are still being clobbered by the (un)holy trinity of
patriarchy, capitalism and racism. Slavery was a brutal regime of
exploitation for enslaved African women. The descendants of enslaved
African women are over-represented in today’s unenviable statistics on the
indicators of social and economic well-being.

What is the meaning of Emancipation Day to the African-Caribbean
working-class? Emancipation Day is closely tied to the idea that the use of
liberatory violence might be an effective antidote to the violence of
oppression. Emancipation Day is a timely reminder of the fact that
collective resistance is the path to changing exploitative conditions.

The Caribbean regimes that celebrate Emancipation Day as a public holiday
or national observance have no problem acknowledging the contribution of
Sam Sharpe in Jamaica, Bussa in Barbados or Kofi in Guyana, all leaders of
armed rebellions. However, the political elite do not sanction the people’s
use of violence to deal with the structural violence
<http://www.structuralviolence.org/structural-violence/> of poverty,
inadequate housing, sexism, unemployment and underemployment, limited
access to education and health care, homophobia and racism.

What is the meaning of Emancipation Day to the African-Caribbean
working-class? Emancipation Day is communicating to the masses that they
must organize to give birth to the Second Emancipation. This phase of
emancipation calls for the elimination of racism, patriarchy, capitalism
and other systems of oppression that affect the people’s lives. It also
demands the self-organization of the masses.

While it is great for the people to commemorate Emancipation Day, this day
must also be used to reflect, critique, assess, deliberate and plan for the
next year of struggle. The states across the Caribbean are fine with
using distracting
bacchanals/festivals <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emancipation_Day> such
*J'ouvert* in Antigua and Barbuda, and Anguilla, *Bay Fest* in The Bahamas,
and Emancipation Day and *Culturama **Day*in St. Kitts and Nevis to divert
the people’s attention away from collective political resistance. Toronto’s
Emancipation Day-related Caribana festival is used in a non-political
manner by civil society forces.

However, it is the responsibility of the revolutionary organizers to use
Emancipation Day to strengthen the class consciousness, feminist
commitments and anti-racist opposition of the labouring classes. If the
organizers are working directly with the people, their day-t-o-day
organizing work would be a reflection of the Second Emancipation’s
programme of action. August 1, 1838 or Emancipation Day tells us that
humanity’s quest for freedom cannot be smothered by oppression.
*lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>* |
August 1, 2016 at 11:50 pm | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-qb0

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