I was raised by my mother in a single parent household, embraced by family, friends and a community who valued me. Persons who instilled a love of self and heritage. These were African-American elementary school teachers and a Jewish principal. Persons who taught us the importance and our responsibility to make a contribution to the world. It was our duty We embraced this charge and lived by it.
In high school I met a fellow student who later made a major impact on my life. His name was Noel Irrizarry. Noel was responsible for contributing to my growth and development as an Afro-centric conscious African-American woman. Noel was articulate, eloquent, well read, knowledgable and passsionate. Though young he was a gifted researcher and historian.
Noel could have rejected his African roots, instead he embraced them. Becoming a noted scholar and on African and African Diasporic History and Culture. A historian influenced by the scholarship of Dr. Ben Jochannan, Dr. Henrik Clarke, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Dr. Leonard Jeffries and Arturo Alfonso Schomberg. Noel was a Puerto Rican of African descent. A man of light hue with dark wavy hair. Noel embraced his roots with fervor. He recommended books and encouraged us to further our research.
In contrast countless dark hued Hispanics denie and reject their African ancestry. A rejection founded on the indoctrination of slave masters and colonizers. Persons who enforced self hatred as a doctrine. Utilizing weapons, beatings and lynchings to enforce these racially motivated doctrines.
Noel understood the depth and toll of this systematic indoctrination. An indoctrination which separated us from us Africa and memory.
These dialogues are long overdo. We must start from the position we are African. Persons dropped off at different plantations, taught to hate self and kind. Whether from Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic or South Carolina. It is my hope healing takes place and there’s a breaking of the chains of mental enslavement.
My beloved friend and teacher transitioned and became an ancestor in his mid-twenties. Noel was a few years older than the rest of us. His school attendance was interrupted periodically to tend to his medical needs. He knew his time on earth was limited. Yet, he chose to spend much of his time and energy sharing the knowledge he had acquired.
10/12/11 original posting.
©Lorraine Currelley and The Currelley Literary Journal 2011. Unauthorized duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Posted by L.C. at 5:18 PM