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Rupert Lewis text is a biography of Marcus Garvey which documents the creation of Marcus Garvey remarkable vision of pan-Africanism and highlights his organizational and influential leadership skills with which he used to combat the British colonial authorities, as a response to the radical global popular upsurge; white supremacist practices and ideas after World War I and as well as fight against deep-rooted self-doubt and self-rejection among black people. In which Garvey’s response was the development of a number of organizations such as Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in which he founded in 1914 and African Communities League.
These organizations gained support of several million members and supporters used to challenge white supremacist practices and ideas as well as promote the improvement of the lot of poor black people around the world. In addition, Garvey the most influential leader of black nationalism of his time established the ideological pillars of twentieth-century pan-Africanism in promoting self-determination and self-reliance for Africa’s independence and its diaspora. Marcus Garvey contributes to the development of a postcolonial Caribbean identity in the text by opposing British colonial authorities, radical global popular upsurges, seeking improvements for blacks in the Caribbean and its diaspora through the establishment of organizations Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), African Communities League (ACL) and other organizations under its umbrella.
“An identity may be defined as the individual characteristics, style or manner that are fundamental to a person (or thing) and by which that person is recognised.” By this definition it can be highlighted that one’s identity defines who one is and or place it a group. In other words gives one a sense of belonging, it also defines one’s role and shows how one see them self and others. In fact, Marcus Garvey contribution to the development of a post-colonial Caribbean identity can be seen in his establishment of his foundation Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), as an effort of opposing British Crown colonial rule and and its radical global popular ideology of white supremacy institutionalized in society’s cultural and economic environment. Rupert Lewis (2018),“
Men and women as black as I am, and even more so, had believed themselves white unde the West Indian order of society.” in this statement from Garvey it appears that blacks within society were being brainwashed and forced to attain a false identity by Crown rule, because of overwhelming white supremacy they felt they had “ to escape blackness and what they perceived as Africa’s lack of civilization and its saverey.” Rupert Lewis (2018). Marcus Garvey used publication of articles through the Negro World an international newspaper and Daily Negro Times, two of many publication houses owned by the organisation UNIA. These newspaper and magazines were one of many methods used by Garvey to attain and breakaway from the ideology of white supremacy and black inferiority.
As well as provide a news house that represent blacks and not have to read a newspaper article from white supremacist paper that ridicule and discriminate against them for being black. These publication brought knowledge and understanding of the realities of difficulties faced by blacks globally, to affirm people of African descent in the Caribbean of their identities, to highlight concerns and unfair treatment of blacks. This method of combating British Crown colonial rule and and its radical global popular ideology of white supremacy allowed for the establishment of independent black publication houses that represented black as well as their movement for black and caribbean independent identity and not the british colonial identities that does not represent them but whites. This a allowed black underclass to feel a sense of hope and comfort.
Additionally, Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) development of the Universal African Black Cross Nurses was used to provide social services for people of African ancestry and other countries that had black underclass that needed assistance as well as provide a medical care for blacks where they can obtained quality service and not be treated unfairly because their black. The establishment of the organization also showed the breaking away from crown rule as it showed colonizers and whites that black were no longer going to be dependent on them.
Without doubt, the creation of the UNIA-ACL can be seen as an attempt by Garvey and blacks to attain freedom from white supremacy and its brainwashing of blacks that they were inferior to whites. Furthermore, it allowed for blacks to take back what was theirs and rebuild their integration and identity that had been degraded by whites, a form of race redemption. As well as bring awareness of one’s black identity to those in the black society that had been brainwashed by colonial rulers to think they they were less than, nothing, “sub-human”.
Moreover, Marcus Garvey contribution to the development of a post-colonial Caribbean identity can be seen in his establishment of the “ Black Star Line ” under the umbrella of Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), seeking improvements for blacks around the world. The Black Star Line was an ambitious project of transporting people and goods to Africa, the Caribbean and other part of the world. The Black Star Line was a huge symbol of black commercial success as well as a great empowerment of black pride. In Rupert Lewis book he state Garvey was insistent that “ we must start business enterprise of our own; we mjs build ships and start trading with ourselves between America, the West Indies and Africa.” Rupert Lewis (2018).
Which it vision of Garvey gave blacks a sense of belonging, they felt they had something they can call their own as well as it brought a sense of comfort, they also now had a place they could be without being discriminated for who they were. In Rupert Lewis (2018), Tony Martin stated that “ most say in it a triumph for black esteem…” Additionally, it allowing them to escape the oppression of their identity (who they truly were) by whites in society as a result, they were now capable to find themselves and embrace their black culture, their skin tone and be prideful of their African ancestry. Rupert Lewis (2018), ‘ even as there is White Star Line owned by the white man there is going to be a Black Star Line owned by black men’
Professor Rupert Lewis book Marcus Garvey, relates most to the historical definition of the caribbean, in which many caribbean countries in the text have similar historical difference such has colonization and radical global popular upsurges such as discrimination (racial prejudice) and unfair treatment of colonizers socially and economically. In reading the book sufficient new knowledge was gained in that, knowledge and understanding of organisation and methods used in the 19th century to fight for black independent identity in the caribbean and to encourage black empowerment.
Without doubt, when reading Professor Rupert Lewis book aim and intention can be highlighted, in that his aim is promote knowledge and understanding of the realities of difficulties faced by blacks world wide and to affirm people of African descent in the Caribbean of their identities. In which he stated in his text ‘Throughout Garvey’s life controversy about his ideals and his leadership meant that the functioned in perpetual ideological, cultural, political, and economic minefields as he sought to challenge the racial subordination and economic exploitation being experienced by Africans. He was not always right on tactical issues, but the need for realignment of power in the interest of Africa and its peoples called for the fundamental restructuring of global power’.
This statement in his text confirms the intention of his the writing of his book about Marcus Garvey, to highlight how Garvey’s remarkable vision of pan-Africanism and response to the radical global popular upsurge brought awareness of the realities of African Diaspora peoples and awakening of the identities of blacks around the world. Admittedly, it can be said that I was impressed representation in the writer book because it highlighted true issues faced by blacks in societies globally which are not frequently spoken about in postcolonial Caribbean society. In addition, it seeks to teach and bring awareness to blacks that we should not have unit to fight against oppression and prejudice against us and stop hating, fighting and being discriminatory amongst ourselves as were faced many years of these hates against us in the past so why continue.
In retrospect, Marcus Garvey assist in the development of a postcolonial Caribbean identity through combating British colonial authorities, white supercay and promoting improvements living conditions of blacks in the Caribbean and its diaspora through the establishment of organizations Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) and other organizations under its umbrella Universal African Black Cross Nurses, Negro World an international newspaper and Daily Negro Times.