Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum: New and Recent Paintings
It was in The Black Book, edited by Toni Morrison, that I first learned that before Christopher Columbus ever thought of my part of the world, the Caribbean, as new, Africans had already been there. Not as enslaved people but as traders and warriors. Among the many things stolen by Columbus and his men from the Arawak, Taíno, and other populations of the Americas were spearheads made of guanín, an alloy of copper, silver, and gold. When asked about the origins of these rather beautiful and sophisticated weapons, the indigenous leaders told Columbus, according to his journals, that they had come from Negro people from the south and southeast. Later, when enslaved Africans were brought to the Americas to replace the worked-to-death, massacred indigenous population, many chose death over enslavement. They were reported to have run into the sea saying, The water brought us here. The water will take us away.