After an introduction by Dr. Teresa Leslie of the Eastern Caribbean Public Health Foundation (ECPHF), one of the organizers along with Dr. Francio Guadeloupe (USM) and Lianne Leonara of the National Anthropological and Archaeological Memory Management (NAAM), Jorgen Unom JG of Poetry Circle Nowhere opened the conference. His opening was directly followed by the insightful keynote of the social activist and vernacular intellectual Mr. Quincy Gario, who discussed his experiences with Black Peter and racism in the Netherlands. After informing all those present of his struggle for justice, he entered into a lively debate with the USM students most of whom had never encountered this Dutch caricature/festivity.
Ms. Geneve Philips MSc, Dean of Academics of USM opened the second conference day with a lecture focusing on regional collaboration in CARICOM and the possibilities to move beyond and become more inclusive without losing sight of differences. Dr. Kamela Heyward Rotime of Duke University shared her insights on institution building in a digital age proposing a similar view on collaboration across borders and differences.
Two more roundtable-discussions followed in which the relation between racism and the environment/ecological disasters and racism, education and mental health were spoken about. The differences of opinion concerning the influence of race in these matters, and the different ideas of what constitutes racism and race relations in the different parts of the globe demonstrated the importance of this conference. The debates also revealed that much work still needs to be done in order for a more just global order to emerge.
The conference was then closed with a lecture by Drs. Jordi Halfman who gave a first insight into her research findings within the NWO funded project Imagining the Nation in the Classroom. She presented the case of Hope, a nine year old girl from the island revealing how learning from the ways in which youngsters on Saint Martin do belonging may provide those of us striving for a more just world, with more enchanted ways to do so.
The discussion on Race and Racism does not end here. For all those interested to join the conversation, please join the Facebook group Raising the Curtain on Race, or contact us for more details. Some of the proceedings of the conference will also be made available through the USM online journal ‘Commentaries’..