Going to Barbados was an incredible opportunity to expand my historical knowledge of enslaved people and to visit the sites that carry significance to the foundation of Barbados. I am very appreciative to be able to immerse myself into the culture and history of Barbados that not a lot of Bajun people in their own homes. For example, our tour guide took us to see the Newton Slave Burial Ground. To actually stand on the land where about 500 enslaved bodies were buried was traumatic and shocking. However, I was able to think critically about the lives of the enslaved people in a way that gave them humanity and agency.
Traveling to Barbados made me realize my difficulty in navigating my trauma with historical narratives. Whenever we had a tour to plantation houses, we analyzed the information that was given to us and realized that the existence of black people was silenced or the language that was used further dehumanized them. It was also a transformative experience to visit the archives at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. It was my first time physically touching a ledger of a planter and seeing the numerical value and description of the enslaved people. Each number represents their lives and how they were perceived as property.
My experience at the Sunbury Plantation and George Washington House was infuriating because the tour guides covered the history of Barbados that barely mentioned enslaved people or only highlighted the furniture inside the plantation house. However, the seminar and small group discussions provided me the opportunity to articulate my critique of the tours and to critically analyze the silencing of enslaved people within the tours.
Additionally, we had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Dr. Tara Inniss at the University of the West Indies. We read two of her readings and learned more about the Barbadian family structure by looking at paternalism, maternalism, and child care.
Ultimately, I am so fortunate for this trip to Barbados and its impact that it has on me as a Davidson student, a black woman, and an Africana scholar. I also appreciate this opportunity to reflect on my experiences in a country that I have discussed intensely throughout this course.