2013-08-02 / Columnists

An Intern’s Take

By Ilyassha Shivers

Greetings, I want to first thank Mr. Paul King for his response to last week’s perspective on the Trayvon Martin verdict. It’s good to know that someone out there is reading and responding to the information that I share with you each week. There are a few things on my mind this week so bear with me.

I took some time out of my hectic routine to attend the community forum held by Councilman Richards discussing the Verdict. I left feeling somewhat disheartened by the tone and direction of the gathering. The panel that was chosen did not reflect the community nor was it able to address the concerns that were raised in the meeting. I can think of a lot more qualified individuals who would have brought some wisdom and understanding to the discussion; I will stop there and move on.

As I thought to myself about an honest discussion on race in America I thought about and looked at how other groups in this country have maintained their identity and cultural heritage while still capturing a piece of the American dream. It is somewhat strange when you think about it but when you visit the heart of Chinatown you feel like you’re in a different part of the world. Everywhere you turn there is a reflection of their culture from the decor to the signs above the stores.

If you visit Williamsburg, in the primarily Jewish community you will see the same signs written in Hebrew. You will see men and women dressed in traditional attire. I can go on but I say this to say make the point that to truly be American is to bring a part of your own culture to this great mosaic that we call home. So where is little Africa? Here is my point if you want to be respected or your culture to be acknowledged you must first respect yourself. It is time for the African-American community to stop blaming everyone else for our own shortcomings and lack of investment in our culture, families and community. Once we do this we can start to correct some of the injustices that are being perpetrated in our communities. That being said, have you ever heard of Emancipation Day? Emancipation in the United States of America came through the Civil War. As a war measure, President Lincoln decreed emancipation for slaves in the rebel states on January 1, 1862. This opened the way for many slaves to gain freedom provided they could escape to Union areas. In the end, after the defeat of the slave states, the Union government declared total Emancipation in December, 1865.

In England, the Emancipation Act was passed in the British Parliament in 1833 and became effective on August 1st, 1834. The Emancipation Day celebration is held all throughout the Caribbean. “The recognition of August 1st is not meant to merely serve as a remembrance, but to create a unique sense of unity, cooperation and understanding of Africans all over the world.

One has to accept the fact and understand that more than 300 million men and women between the ages of 15 to 35 were forcefully uprooted and transported from their Motherland. They were extracted from their path of development and transplanted to foreign lands. “The world has yet to fathom what Africa would be like today had the continent not been subjected to the extraction of her most precious resource-her people,” said Embalm Moheni.

So what do you think, is culture an important part of identity? How does it affect the way one looks at them self and how we treat one another?

Email me at shiverswave@gmail.com to share your thoughts and comments and look out for part two next week; also don’t forget to read The Wave.

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