For the first time in 189 years, Jamaica is actually celebrating the day that ended slavery.
Last year, Good News Jamaica published an article elaborating on the significance of December 27 and our team was humbled to see it receive national and diaspora-wide attention and reflection. December 27 has generally been treated as just another day on the calendar, even though it is, hands-down, the most important day in Jamaica’s history.
Now, finally, in the formidable year that is 2020, the Government of Jamaica has declared the day after Boxing Day is to be officially observed as a day of importance in memory and celebration of the Right Excellent Samuel Sharpe. This is truly good news, a first step in the right direction. Today is the very first Sam Sharpe Day!
We still have a distance to go to own the narrative of Jamaica’s Emancipation though. There is no story more important and more powerful than the story we tell ourselves about how we came to be who we are. This is as true for individuals, as it is for nations.
Emancipation is at its core a process of overcoming trauma. Trauma is passed down indefinitely across generations until and unless it is interrupted and our degree of mental escape from trauma — or lack thereof — is the foremost determinant of our well-being. Narratives are key to orchestrating mental escape. They can seem insignificant on account of the fact that our experience of them is often dispersed through a variety of forms but, in totality, their effect could not be more profound. Their effect is to either lock or unlock our thought processes.
We must not allow any part of our personal or national narrative to be defined by the sources of our trauma. Rather, we must aggressively interrogate the narrative that we play and replay for/within our minds to identify all aspects of that narrative that do not serve our best interest (because they inherently cannot) and we must release them.
Again, December 27 is the most important day in Jamaica’s history and it matters that our ancestors didn’t quite have to wait 200 years for the beneficiaries of their martyrdom to start acknowledging the grace they bravely and selflessly bestowed upon us through this very moment. Rest assured that they’re looking forward to hearing what else we have to say.