Why Afro-Caribbean female scholars are more than important for history

Jo-Anne Ferreira, credit: J.A. Ferreira

The Afro-Arab research I have been involved in for ten years now has drained me sometimes. Everytime one studies about indigenous black populations from the Middle East, one has to not only fight against Eurocentrism to place the Middle East in the Northeast African part, in other words, fight against geographical colonization, resist againt the tale claiming all Blacks in the region descend from slaves and worst combat the deep anti-black feelings which are still present in the Muslim and Jewish worlds. If not prepared mentally, such brutality can easily destroy you spiritually. I almost had two nervous breakdowns while writing some of my books as I saw how white historians did succeed in damaging the history of my foremothers up there.

A scholar or historian, it is true, always has to be focused even when not studying. Your spirit always needs to be working and stimulated. As I was younger, I remember, I used to indulge in TV shows when I was resting. However, it is more than important to make a choice. Indeed, the main objective of White Supremacy is to attack and entertain the black spirit and brains. For this reason, Black people are way too often involved in entertainment and foolishery than in the quest of reaching positions of power and that’s how we have been conditioned. Reading a book or watching a history documentary about the War in Iraq or Saddam Hussein is more than important to stimulate the mind. And even beyond the racial issue, a historian always has something to do. If not, then it’s probably because they observe the shabbat.

In my free time, I enjoy reading about the research of Afro-Caribbean women. Whether from Trinidad, Haiti, Puerto-Rico or Cuba, I truly believe that the Caribbean scholars are one of the best and most innovative individuals in the world of academic. I probably have so much admiration for them because they know that behind every desire to research there is an instinct of survival attached to each paper written down. When Jo-Anne Ferreira whom I admire and respect, focuses on the preservation of the Creole language in Trinidad and Tobago, going as far as recording old Trinidadians to preserve the sound of the language, I find it to be more necessary than anything else. The issue concerning Jessica Krug was not only disgusting but it also showcased how all Afro-Caribbean women are isolated on purpose so their work can be stolen and exploited. The Caribbean research and field of study is always full of surprises and mentions events in history one could have never imagined. Yet, though as excellent as it is, many white scholars still despise it. However, I do believe it is time for many of us to really reject this obsession of ours to be embraced and recognized by either white Orientals or Westerners and share, protect, expose and enjoy the work of our labour as women of color.

Any Black woman who focuses on research and history is very much needed. By the creation of more institutes owned and led by many of us, the narrative regarding our position in the Western world will change. If European historians still talk about “the discovery of Cristobal Colombo” instead of referring to what that event really was, understand an invasion and a genocide, it’s probably because we, Black people, do not do enough as a minority to focus on the creation of our institutes and laboratories. On the contrary, those studying on issues involving languages, culture and identity are either considered Afrocentrists or lunatics who waste their time with issues related to the ancestors and deemed obsolete.

A woman who researches or writes down the history of the ancestors is just completing another tradition within the diasporas. Indeed, African women, and so, depending on their different places on the original continent, were the ones to keep and preserve the stories. I do remember, as a little girl, how my mother and her sisters used to sing traditional Luba Kasaian lullabies and teach me counts I never ever heard anywhere else. African women have always been the guardians of the traditions and embodied the power of transmission. Studying, reading and researching is not odd at all, but the consequence of our heritage.

Worst, the lack of respect among scholars is also very present. Instead of getting together and walking united as one, we tend not to respect each other’s fields. I, for my part, am a historian who studies indigenous black populations in the Arab world, Middle East. This is the history of my maternal lineage and identity. Yet, it would not be fair for me to start publishing about Afro-Puerto-Rican identity or steal someone’s idea to boost my own career because some people have been working on these specific topics for ten to fifteen years just like I have been researching on the Black Arab question since I was 19. Rivalry is what kills us. The desire to prove that one’s work is better than another one is a problem. In reality, our names should not be what matters. The most important issues are science, facts, sources, links and history, and in this case there should be no egos.

I will post regularly about some summaries of my favorite Afro-Caribbean scholars, academics and historians I like on my own website. I love and respect your work pretty much !

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