BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Today is “Maroon Day” in Suriname. At display, a moral paradox of a nation that chooses to celebrate Black people as subhuman. A so called Caribbean nation sits atop this despicable display of ignorance and inhumanity. Make no mistake, today’s “celebration” is to further demote us, Tribal people, descents of escaped enslaved Africans, to the level of cattle, hogs and chickens. With guidance from those who uphold the system of white supremacy, Suriname is still forcing the “Maroon” identity upon a certain group of Black people.
“The word ‘Maroon’ — Marron to the French — has come to be used as a generic term to designate fugitive slaves from plantations in the New World, although the Iberians had their own designations. The etymology is uncertain, but consensus opinion would seem to accept the view that it derives from the Spanish word cimarron, which originally referred to domestic cattle that had escaped to a wild existence. In the course of time, however, the term lost its faunal connotation to embrace runaway slaves almost exclusively. As cimarron would seem to be a peculiarly New World term, first applied in Hispaniola, so also is its derivative, Maroon when applied to runaway slaves. As far as Jamaica is concerned, the official documents, as well as early works on the island, did not make use of the term until well into the eighteenth century. – Mavis C. Campbell wrote in her book, The Maroons Of Jamaica 1655 – 1796.
There’s no doubt, today’s so called celebration in Suriname is a display of white might and supremacy in the western world carried out by misguided Black people and other POC. This display of national ignorance is a stark and unfortunate reminder that we, Black people, still live separately; in the fields and in the masters’ house, symbolically. And as long as our minds stay chained to the lies told of our people and their contributions to civilization as we know it, true freedom will remain an asterisk in our fight to regain our rightful place on earth.
The assault on our humanity is a global effort. In America this white supremacist language was spoken with the Three-fifths Compromise in the Constitution and in subsequent laws that still govern this land. Americans are still working to overcome and write a new chapter in our human story, with persistent pushback and a death grip on our fruitful racism. It’s high time to stop using the term Maroon, its meaning clearly inhumane and deeply offensive, to identify an ancient people, my African people, all over the world. In America James Baldwin cried out, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO. In Suriname African Tribal people are echoing the same sentiment; I AM NOT YOUR MAROON.
Dr. John Henrik Clarke said, “Africans brought the world its first humanity.” And though a heavy burden, it is clear we must continue to remind the world what it means to be human and not a “Maroon.”