Monday, January 09, 2017

Quote: Christina Sharpe

"What does it mean to return? Is return possible? Is it desired? And if it is, under what conditions and for whom? The haunt of the ship envelops and persists in the contemporary. French President François Hollande 'returned' when he began his trip to the Antilles on May 10, 2015, with a visit to Guadeloupe for the opening ceremony and the dedication of a 'museum and memorial site to honour the memory of slaves and their struggles in the French Caribbean island Guadeloupe,' the 'first of its kind by France to remember those who suffered during the slave trade.' The Memorial ACTe, housed in a former sugar factory in the Guadeloupian city of Pointe-à-Pitre, is called 'a place of remembrance and reconciliation' and described as 'a Caribbean centre on the expression and memory of slavery and the slave trade.'"

"Hollande's visit to the site spotlighted, for those who would not and did not know, the ongoing reparation claims made by descendants of enslaved peoples in Guadeloupe, in Haiti, Cuba, and all over the Caribbean. And while in 2013, Hollande acknowledged France's 'debt' to Africa because of slavery and the 'baneful role played by France,' he added that this history 'cannot be the subject of a transaction.' Unless, of course, that transaction benefits France (like the indemnity Haiti was forced to pay) through trade and other contracts and 'investments.' But what is a moral debt? How is it paid? Is it that Black people can only be the objects of transactions and not the beneficiares of one, historical or not?"
-- Christina Sharpe, from In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, Durham: Duke University Press, 2016, p. 60.

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