Aug. 1 is celebrated in many Caribbean territories as Emancipation Day, marking the freedom of enslaved Africans who were victims of the transatlantic slave trade.
Trinidad and Tobago was the first country in the world to declare a national holiday to mark the abolition of slavery, and in his Emancipation Day message to the nation, Prime Minister Keith Rowley said those from West Africa have suffered the most and that slavery “has left many a Black person scarred and denuded of basic values.”
“In the eyes of some, the perception remains that Blacks have been placed at the bottom of every ‘good’ list, and the ‘top’ of every bad one,” he said. “Despite their strengths, resourcefulness and intelligence, they are forced still to cry out to the world that ‘Black is beautiful, too.’”
The prime minister added that recent studies in social psychology now suggest that the scars and oppression of slavery are lodged — generations after — in their collective unconscious; i.e., in the minds of Africans in the Caribbean and the Americas.
“In short, theirs, as we say, is a double whammy: Institutionalized racism on one hand; and the mental chains of pain and suffering — held within their own psyches,” he said.