“This is a celebration of humanity”: Jacobs wants all of St. Maarten’s peoples at Emancipation Celebration

POSTED: 06/27/12 12:44 PM

St. Maarten – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Silveria Jacobs has stressed that next Monday’s celebration of Emancipation Day as an official public holiday is an event for all people who live in St. Maarten. Though she acknowledges that the ceremony is about how black people were freed from slavery in the Americas, the minister firmly believes that the concept of emancipation is something everyone here can identify with.
“This is a celebration of humanity. The world has recognized that slavery was an institution that is unjust and inhumane. It was not just African people that were enslaved. We know of many, many other races that were enslaved throughout the years, even in Europe, where Caucasians enslaved each other. Africans enslaved each other as well. Over the years we have grown to the recognition that it is an inhumane treatment of your fellow man and it is a celebration of us as a St. Maarten people. St. Maarten is known to be a melting pot to welcome each and every person and we know for sure that for instance in the Indian community, there is an issue where certain classes of people are treated as slaves. Slavery is not a new institution. It’s age old, even back in the bible days it was promoted and that’s why so many felt it was ok to continue to promote it. However I believe that all peoples on St. Maarten can come out and celebrate with us. Once we are moving forward as a people, it benefits us all as a people because then we are all moving forward as a people,” Jacobs said.
Later she’s add, “The situation did come up, whether we should invite different types of associations to take part in our parade and I personally nixed the idea, because I wanted it to be about the emancipation from slavery on St. Maarten and at that time slaves on St. Maarten were not of Indian or any other race. They were African or mixed race. So all shades of brown, light brown and nearly white were slaves so it’s neither for the darkest, nor for the medium or the brown skin as we like to call some of the people. It’s not about race. It’s not about color. It’s about celebrating the fact that a wrong had been righted and we appreciate that. It’s not that we’re going to walk around the streets and hate and promote hate against whoever promoted slavery in those days. It is about we are no longer there, but we still have a long way to go before we are free in our minds.”
The minister has also expressed the hope that the coming celebration will be the beginning of the end of the some of the “racist” language that different ethnic groups use towards each other.
“As a teacher I’ve told my students when they come to class and they say, ‘I went by the Chinee and I buy this, and this and that and I say hey Chino” I said to them how would you like somebody to say hey negro, give you this or hey negro give you that. We get offended if somebody calls us nigger or you call us negro, but when you say Chino, it’s also an insult. So I would like us to educate our population that discrimination goes both ways. It’s a bad word to say Haitian. It’s a bad word to say Dominican. It’s a word to say Makamba. It’s a bad word to say nigger. All of those words are bad words and I would like us to teach our people, both young and old to stop using those words. They are bullying words. They are negative words,” Jacobs said.

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