Claiming Spaces: The African Story of the Sugar Mill
The Virgin Islands of the United States, formerly the Danish West Indies, and under the control of fourteen different incorporations and colonial rule, have been used to propel capitalism systems and the promise of upward social mobility for many poor Europeans. The dehumanizing of Indigenous, European, and African bodies are intertwined in a gross display of oppression for wealth. The erasure of indigenous people and their identity and the horrific experience of chattel slavery of black bodies leave many people in disenfranchised states while stories of valor and triumph overshadow the horrific tale of sugar production. Right up 'til today, numerous English, German, Irish, and Danish planters are praised for their wealth created from sugar production to the torture of others. Great works of art, celebrated architectural spaces in Europe, and Literature highlight planters as victors. Sugar mills recount the tales of enslaved Africans; it is why black bodies are in the Caribbean. The enslaved African bodies and Sugar Mills entwine, yet we see the erasure and intangibility of sugar mills as a structure of significance. Indeed, even Virgin Islanders avoid the structure as we battle with colonial trauma.
I say we should reconcile with these structures. The Virgin Islands should preserve sugar mills and provide a space for persons to tell an alternative story of themselves. Sugar mills have the potential to propel the Virgin Islands, especially in eco and heritage tourism.
Opening Event Aug 13th
Reflections on Emancipation and post colonial society
Emancipation is defined as, “the act of setting free from slavery, servitude, and or restraint; deliverance from bondage or controlling influence; liberation.” Between 1833 and 1863 people of African descent across what was the old British empire, North and South America were released from the physical restraints of slavery and servitude. In less than 200 years the progeny of those emancipated people has been reclaiming their rights, identities and cultures in the presence of the many police and control systems that remain.
“Art is not a luxury as many people think – it is a necessity. It documents history – it helps educate people and stores knowledge for generations to come.”
Dr. Samella Lewis
Apr 10 -
New Blood 4
The New Blood exhibition series is about breaking the divide and giving all artists a platform for their work to be celebrated and appreciated by the community. Featuring emerging and established Virgin Islands artists.
As with any great venture, it is the work of many. New Blood 4 is a joint venture between CMCArts and Lucien Downes.