Middle Passage Month 2017: Commemoration and Preparation in the Gullah/Geechee Nation
Annually the Gullah/Geechee Nation commemorates Middle Passage Month in September to remind people of not only the hardships caused due to the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, but to also bring awareness to the strength of those that survived it and built not only the Gullah/Geechee Nation, but the United States. Interestingly enough, September is the center of the peak of hurricane season as well. The fact that hurricanes begin along the coast of the Motherland and then tend to migrate through the Atlantic toward seaboards of enslavement only strengthens the reasons why this commemoration is important.
September is also “National Preparedness Month” during which time families and communities are to focus on insuring that they have disaster preparedness and evacuation plans in place. Our ancestors had no means by which to prepare for the disaster that we now call the “Triangular Trade” nor for the journey of the Middle Passage.
Over time, there are more interactive visual aids that have been designed for people to understand the routes of the Middle Passage (for example: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/the_history_of_american_slavery/2015/06/animated_interactive_of_the_history_of_the_atlantic_slave_trade.html). However, numerous articles that academic institutions are disbursing seem to want to minimize the extent of the harm and hardship of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade. They seek to convince the world that there was a minimal number of African people kidnapped and transported to North America. They then exclude the number of people that were considered “domestic slaves” due to the fact that they were people born on North America’s soil directly into enslavement due to the status of their mothers that may have come over on an enslavement vessel or was the product of being born in the “colonies” of the Americas while the TransAtlantic Slave Trade was the order of the day. With this in mind, we have to wonder if this is an attempt to propagandize in order to also minimize the movement for reparations and to lessen discussions of the construction of race that was part and parcel to the institution of enslavement. Racism is an outcome of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade which has led to post traumatic slave syndrome and the continuing human rights assaults against people of African descent including the current on-going lynchings that are being couched as police brutality brought on via racial profiling.
The complete impacts of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade are difficult for many people of African descent in America to consider and face head on because of the pain that arises in the collective consciousness and the spiritual devastation that many do not want to visit or revisit. Yet, as is often stated “Those that do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” So, as a result, the unhealed wound of the Middle Passage that is in the DNA of people of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and of African Americans is festering and salt continues to be added to it as the world witnesses continued human rights violations against the children of the African Diaspora and the suffering and pain is exacerbated by those crying in the midst of the storms that are causing the water to fall from the sky like tears of the ancestors while the waters of the oceans and the seas rise and cover the land at these coastlines that were the disembarkation points of the Black gold/Black cargo that had been loaded on the same coast where the hurricanes continue to begin. Somehow for hundreds of years, the pain has been following the same path.
May we prepare for healing this Middle Passage Month or the storms of the spirit will continue to rage on and the spirits of our ancestors will not rest.
by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)