This was one of the most unique experiences I have had in my 20 odd years on this earth. For those who don't know, Gore Island is a small port in Dakar, Senegal where hundreds of years ago men, women and children were enslaved and forced to migrate to the Americas. I am getting goosebumps from just writing this because it is taking me back to all of the emotions I felt when I was on the island. The slave house on the island is still there and running as a tourist attraction. The guides recount the stories of many enslaved Africans who were shipped to Cuba, Brazil, the US, and all over Latin America and the Caribbean. Entire families were split up and sold and traded in different countries. One could trade a mirror for a young lady.
The facilitators running the YOWLI conference created a small ceremony where we did a libation, a prayer and we broke bread and shared it with each other while the participants from the Diaspora (people in the world with African descent) said, "You are a part of me" and the African participants said, "And I am a part of you." There were many tears during the entire ceremony. I broke down as soon as I walked in the place. It pained me to know that this ever took place, but even more the thought that we are still dealing with modern day slavery today.
I couldn't help but to wonder where did my descendants come from? How did they get to the "New World?" I guess this explains why I feel like it is so important to acknowledge ones blackness, it is somehow in honor to all of those people who were enslaved, brutally mistreated, dehumanized, raped, sold, beaten, and forced to move to a place where they would continue to be discriminated, stereotyped, targeted, and the list goes on.
I am against the argument that many of my counterparts often argue, "It happened in the past, leave it there." We can't leave it there because we are still suffering all of the consequences from this tragic historical disaster. When I say we I am speaking of all of the people from the Diaspora and those in Africa and all of those who are being enslaved today. It should not stay in the past because today millions of women and children are being illegally trafficked and smuggled around the world, including the USA. We should do the complete opposite of this and keep this event close to our hearts and minds so that we are reminded that we need to fight against injustices even if it is at a community level and that community can be your school, your department at work, your gym, you street, wherever it is, just try and make this world a little better each day, not only for my future children and yours, but for us, today, now.