Looking back into African history
Latoya Thomas-Bridgewater has a message for Bermuda: tell our history and all the rest will fall into place.
She’s talking about African history in particular.
The social worker feels it holds the key to “understanding our behaviour and [the necessary] answers for our collective healing”.
With her children in mind, she’s trying to get that message across to the public. Residents are invited to join her at Liberty Theatre this weekend for a lecture that promises to “deep dive into the heart of healing by exploring our African-Bermudian history”.
“We will never get right with ourselves until we get the history right,” Ms Thomas-Bridgewater said. “This event gives everyone the opportunity to learn the truth about African people and their contributions to society. I want my children to live in a world free of any suggestion, any hint whatsoever, that black people are any less than the beautiful, marvellous, intelligent human beings that we are. I realised if I wanted that world, I would have to create it. No one else is going to do it for me.
“All my life I’ve been interested in who I am — who my ancestors are. But to find out information about myself, I had to go through back doors. Melodye Micere Van Putten, a Bermudian teacher and poet, and James Small, a Pan-African activist and scholar, will speak at Sunday’s event.
“I am hoping that everyone will leave the event with a deepened understanding of our history and its impact on our emotional lives, fresh insights, ideas and tools to help us heal and serve as a catalyst for healing in our families and our communities.”
Those who attend will also be introduced to Emotional Emancipation Circles — groups of black people who work together to overcome the trauma of racism — with the intention that they continue to meet once a month.
People will also have the opportunity to register their children with an African-centred school that will be held every Saturday starting next month.
“My passion is helping and healing myself and my community and family,” Ms Thomas-Bridgewater said. Our experience with anti-black racism isn’t acknowledged across the board. The psychological injury we experienced during slavery, segregation and currently, isn’t looked at and most psychologists aren’t trained to address the adverse affects of racism. Therefore our pain is not acknowledged therapeutically, our trauma is not acknowledged therapeutically, [and] we are unable to heal completely.”
Through the kemetic yoga classes she offers to black women, she knows that there are people here who are interested.
“A portion of our class is spent talking about our experience and the fact that we don’t have the opportunity to learn about ourselves,” she said. “We have a Eurocentred education, therefore we have a Eurocentred point of reference. We know about Beethoven, but let’s talk about the African drum. The drum is the most classical instrument, but if you ask the average black person about classical music to no fault of their own, they would use a European point of reference. We use European thought and European standards because that’s what we’ve been taught. As people of African descent we need to start exploring the world through our own lens. Reclaiming an African world view is a major step towards our healing.”
• Latoya Thomas-Bridgewater will host Healing Thyself Through Knowing Thyself, at the Liberty Theatre on Sunday from 10.30am until 12.30pm. A ‘chat and chew’ will follow from 1pm until 5pm. Tickets, $75 for adults and $35 for students and seniors, are available at www.ptix.bm. For more information call 595-4105
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