None but Ourselves can Free the Mind
"We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind." Marcus Garvey in Nova Scotia, Canada, October 1937.
In addition to these profound words, the great Jamaican, Marcus Mosiah Garvey advocated that if black people are to emancipate themselves from mental slavery, they must establish a new sense of self and engage in a critical transformation of the mind. As we stated in an editorial two years ago year, Rex Nettleford, the late Caribbean intellectual, said Garvey challenged us to smash the old stereotype, to substitute self- esteem for self-contempt, to put self-confidence and self-reliance in the place of dependence and self-distrust. In other words emancipate ourselves from mental slavery.
But in 2013, more than six decades later, we have not realised Garvey's vision for black people. The fact that a great majority of us are still enslaved, in one form or another, must become the focus of the annual Emancipation Day which we will observe in Dominica on Monday, August 5th. That is necessary because over the years we have gradually watered down the impact of Emancipation Day until it has now become nearly meaningless. We believe that Emancipation Day should be an opportunity to evaluate, first, how far we have come since our forefathers were freed from the shackles of slavery about 179 years ago. And, secondly, that this is the time for us to consider how far we have to travel as a people along the continuum from slavery to full freedom. Truly, there are so many more miles to go before we sleep.
On Emancipation Day let's endeavour to teach each other how to evaluate ourselves and our government, or our political party, objectively and to use our brain, as Garvey advised us to do more than seven decades ago.
On Emancipation Day our black women, in particular, must remember the Seventies, during the Black Power Movement, when black people worldwide struggled earnestly to become psychologically free. But now, it seems, our black women have retrogressed. That retrogression is obvious in the way they now dress, the way they wear their hair (like Caucasians), the foods that they eat and the cultural norms that they emulate. Black, it seems, is no longer beautiful. Black women's hair resemble the hair of whites, Asians or Indians. Why are black women not comfortable with their natural hair and why do they have to look like Europeans?
On Emancipation Day 2013, therefore, we should evaluate why our people are not willing to emancipate themselves from that dependency syndrome that forces them to crawl to politicians for everything that they need. Aren't they aware that that disposition is a carry-over from the days of slavery? Why are we not being encouraged to develop our country by our own blood, sweat and tears, instead of being perpetually dependent on hand-outs from Venezuela, the People's Republic of China or Morocco? Do we have a plan to be economically independent, say, in the next fifty years?
On Emancipation Day we should also recognize the magnitude of the sacrifices of our founding fathers and national heroes who paved the way to freedom from slavery to political independence. It is therefore our duty and responsibility to continue our slow but upward progress towards economic independence; otherwise we will forever remain international beggars. On Emancipation Day we must encourage Dominicans to consider the Greek proverb that advises us that : "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
On Emancipation Day we must also recognise that we need to take small and decisive steps to emancipate ourselves from the mental, spiritual and emotional shackles which allow us to tolerate domestic violence, child abuse and corruption in political office. And we need to resolve that we will not tolerate these aberrations whether it is practiced by our beloved political or religious leaders. We need to find ways to emancipate ourselves from the thought processes and the residues of slavery that allow us to believe that foreign products and systems are always better than our own.
On Emancipation Day we should discuss ways of getting out of the mindset which prevents us from making significant progress on issues such as the creation of the Caribbean Single Economy and the formation of the Caribbean Court of Justice. To paraphrase Garvey, Emancipation Day is an opportune time to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery- none but ourselves can free our minds.