For this paper, I will be connecting a chapter by Dian Million (2013) with the one by Ann Cvetkovich (2012) by working through, and from, a particular quote. My goal, then, is to draw a parallel between the treatment and conditions of life as a black American with that of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. That is not to say I intend to conflate the experiences of the two groups, as I recognize them as substantively different. Rather, what I want to show is that the afterlife of slavery for black Americans and the afterlife of colonialism for Aboriginal Canadians is strikingly similar. Put another way, the history of both slavery and colonialism have current political stakes that skew life chances, limit access to health and education, result in premature death, incarceration and impoverishment for both black Americans and Aboriginal Canadians. Saidiya Hartman as cited in Cvetkovich (2012) states:
If slavery persists as an issue in the political life of black America, it is not because of an antiquarian obsession with bygone days or the burden of a too-long memory, but because black lives are still imperiled and devalued by a racial calculus and a political arithmetic that were entrenched centuries ago. This is the afterlife of slavery--skewed life chances, limited access to health and education, premature death, incarceration, and impoverishment.
There are so many ways I would love to deconstruct this quote, as I believe it to be a substantive and eloquent summation as to why we must not separate slavery or colonialism from the current social, economic or political climate. However, in this context that would not be practicable. Although all four points regarding the afterlife of slavery (or colonialism) that are mad...
... middle of paper ...
...ion for Aboriginal Canadians and black Americans outside of a historical context is to develop mediocre responses at best. A major example of this shortcoming is the development of, and access to, health and education. A large part of why depression, anxiety and other emotional impediments are not adequately addressed for people of colour is because they operate in accordance to whiteness. That is, treatment options are rooted in a medicalized model and follow a biological explanation for the ailment. When being done in this way, the treatment, and diagnosis, as well as the knowledge about both these factors, has no way to recognize the experience of slavery or colonialism in meaningful ways. Therefore, the historical roots of slavery and colonialism must be brought into the current context, if we intend to make sense of, or make changes to, the resultant afterlife.
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