“We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body

“We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind” (Lewis 85). These are the words of Marcus Garvey a Jamaican-born journalist, entrepreneur, politician and activist. In the biography of Marcus Garvey, written by Rupert Lewis, a Professor at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica; Lewis details Marcus Garvey’s ambitions, trials, failures and achievements he encountered throughout his life. Some of the issues highlighted were racism, miscegenation, diasporic double consciousness, United States imperialism and diversity of the economy.
One issue highlighted is racism which can be defined as a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has a right to dominate the others or that a particular racial group is inferior to another (Dictionary.com). Even though slavery was abolished, African people were still oppressed because of their ethnicity and skin colour which stemmed from the era of slavery which created racial division and views of black inferiority (Lewis pg 36). The achievements of successful, wealthy and accomplished black persons were overlooked. In the early 1900s “race trumped class” (pg 34), racial riots were rampant. In 1919, the “Red Summer” had approximately twenty-five racial riots in the United States of America the greatest interracial strife the nation has ever seen (pg 28). Black people in America were subjected to racism from white citizens and police officers, which still continue to occur today in the twenty-first century such as the death of Trayvon Martin, who was killed in February, 2012 by George Zimmerman. Zimmer was acquitted, which gave rise to the activist movement formed in 2013 Black lives Matter (Black Lives Matter). In the Caribbean racism still exists as well, for example in Trinidad and Tobago there is still a divide among the different ethnic groups, specifically between the Indian and African ethnicities. This is a problem since the colonial period because of competition among the races which stemmed from the white planters creating conflict among the different labour forces as a means of controlling them. The plantation society model developed creating inequality and discrimination among the different labour forces. White planters instilled that the Indian labourers were docile and a better labour force than the African labour force.
Skin colour was another form of racial discrimination as opportunities were given to persons who had fairer skin colour than persons who had darker skin hue. Even among the different races those with lighter skin were treated better and separated themselves from their counterparts with darker skin during slavery. Preference for Western Society values flourished in the Caribbean in the twenty-first century, producing a struggle of one’s identity and pride in one’s self. Many Caribbean people began to search for ways to brighten their skin colour especially in countries like Jamaica where skin bleaching became rampant. Influential persons such as dancehall artiste Vbyz Kartel bleached his skin to change it to a lighter skin colour. It is believed that lighter skin makes you better looking and opens the door to more opportunities financially and socially. Skin colour to this day is still believed, in few instances to favour persons who have fairer skin colour.
Miscegenation was a deliberate Spanish policy used in early fifteen hundreds to decrease the Neo-Indian population. During Slavery European men had children with African female slaves as a result of rape or because of sexual favours with the planter to receive privileges. After emancipation these children with mixed ethnicities were still considered black but were encouraged by Whites to take pride in their European heritage (Coppin). In the nineteen hundreds in the United States some blacks saw miscegenation as a way to alleviate oppression by interracial unions which angered Whites and this ignited racial riots (Lewis pg 31). Lewis also stated that Marcus Garvey advocated for racial purity and affirmed pride in being black and accepting one’s African heritage.
In the Trinidad and Tobago miscegenation among the different ethnic groups created a mixture of culture and races. Miscegenation has created a new ethnic group called Dougla which is the mixture of Afro-Trinidadian and Indo-Trinidadian races. Mixed races are free to choose the ethnic group they belong too or which one accommodates them (Regis). Regis states “This mixed group unlike other ethnic groups does not have an organization thus contributing to their invisibility”. Miscegenation can bring ethnic groups together but some racial purist would prefer to have a pure lineage, making it difficult for persons of mixed ethnicities to find their place in society.
Diasporic Double Consciousness
Diaspora which comes from the Greek verb ‘diaspeirein’ meaning to scatter suggests a particular journey, usually involving some degree of compulsion. Diasporas resulted from slavery, colonization, systems of indentured labour and economic migration flows (Braham). During slavery, African slaves would commit suicide because they were forcibly taken from their homeland and endured horrendous treatment during their voyage along the Middle Passage to various countries, where they were sold to off to plantation owners. They were brutally punished for being disobedient, women were raped and limbs were severed for running away. Their freedom was taken away, the life they knew had become a distant memory which was unbearable to many of the slaves. They believed that when they died their spirit would return to their homeland so committing suicide was a form of resistance. Diasporic double consciousness is the feelings an uprooted individual experiences in a new country or homeland because they are torn between settling in their new country and the belief that the original country or homeland they are from is always home.
In the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds, large numbers Caribbean people began to migrate to other Caribbean Islands and the United States of America in search of work and to create a better life for themselves. Marcus Garvey left Jamaica to work in Central America where he learned to communicate in Spanish, then to the United States and also England. Marcus believed however, Africans homeland was Africa and argued that the only way limitations imposed on blacks by racial inequality was for the “Negros to create a government of its own on the continent of Africa which would compel the respect of all men in all parts of the world” (Lewis pg 33). Diasporic double consciousness is still prevalent today in the Caribbean as many people migrate to other countries around the world for education, social or economic reasons. The Caribbean is always viewed as their homeland and they create communities amongst themselves to experience their Caribbean culture. Festivities such as Notting Hill Carnival in London and Labor Day parade in New York are annual celebrations in which West Indians living in these countries come together to part-take in. They dance to the music and eat the food from their home countries. They revel in all the activities they would have enjoyed in their homeland. Activities such as these soothe some of the emotions individuals experience due to diasporic double consciousness.
Diversity of the Economy
The Caribbean failed to provide the quantity of bullion the Europeans expected to find so they utilized the resources they had, which was land to generate wealth. They began developing agriculture with crops such as cotton, tobacco, indigo, cocoa, ginger and livestock for meat. The Europeans first began testing crops to see if they would be profitable using small plantations. Cotton was not profitable as the plantations were small, the amount of cotton produced was not enough to compete with other markets and there was not a significant export market. Tobacco was another crop they tried, which had an available market. It was successful in islands such as Barbados and St Kitts. However, it declined because the tobacco grown in the Caribbean was an inferior quality compared to that of the Americas and it could not compete with the quality. Cocoa was developed in the mid seventeenth century and it was successful in Trinidad. It was of high quality but the crops were destroyed by deadly diseases, so Cocoa was no longer an option for export. In the early eighteen hundreds sugar was seen as an alternative industry. The first successful sugar industry was in Brazil, but the first major sugar producers were Barbados and Jamaica. Sugar was a successful crop and it was sold for premium prices on the worldwide market. The sugar trade became dominant in the Caribbean and was the major economic revenue for the various European colonizers at that time.
In the nineteenth century Caribbean islands