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Race Memory

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slave-shipThe idea of slavery is a powerful one. It’s one that we’re suppose to have forgotten but five hundred years later, you just don’t forget.”   Caribbean-Canadian writer, Nalo Hopkinson
I just heard a bit of an interview with one of my favorite authors, Nalo Hopkinson.  In the interview, Nalo speaks about the power of the idea of slavery.  She recounts that she had gone to a travel agent to book a cruise.  While waiting, she saw a cutaway of the cruise ship and the sleeping quarters.  When she looked at the picture, Nalo says that what she saw was a slave ship.  Further into the interview, Nalo speaks about the issue of forgetting about slavery and about race memory.  After I watched the interview, I just sat back for a moment.  Do we all, as African Americans, carry the memory of the inhumanness and humiliation of slavery in our genes?  Are we still remembering the pain and anger of our ancestors?

Most of my life I have known that I have what I call “a touch of claustrophobia.”  In reality it is more than a touch.  I have a strong aversion to closed in places like small elevators with several passengers.  Lately, it seems that I am traveling on more of the smaller airplanes used for short trips and connecting flights. It is really hard for me to get on the plane if the plane is full or if I have to stand in a crowd of people to get on.

I have always wondered why I have this illogical fear of being crowded in a small place.  Could it be that small, crowded enclosures trigger this race memory of being imprisoned and packed into one of those slave ships?

Nalo Hopkinson Interview:

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About taviaz

I am a Diva, certainly. Complex, natural woman, writer, entreprenuer, cautious risk taker, therapist, social worker, nurturing mother, ride or die wife, loyal friend.

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