He’s a debit to his race!
Here is the author’s statement, via a forwarded email.
I doubt he’ll appreciate my support — but the MSM types who read my blog and steal my stories will appreciate it.
A Statement from Lawrence Hill
June 13, 2011
It is unfortunate that Mr. Roy Groenberg plans to burn my Het Negerboek, a novel that dramatizes the history and restores the dignity of the very people whom Mr. Groenberg seeks to represent.
Sadder still is his choice of location — the slavery monument in Amsterdam.
Last month, after being warmly welcomed by the members of NinSee, an organization of Dutch people of Surinamese descent. I visited the slavery monument. It is a beautiful testament to the history of slavery and freedom. Like the monument, my novel seeks to encourage public conversation about the quest for freedom in the face of oppression. The practice of burning books is meant to stifle conversation and shut down public dialogue.
As an African Canadian who has written six books about peoples of the African Diaspora, and whose parents spent their lifetimes working to advance the struggle for human rights and racial equality in Canada, I understand that there is great sensitivity to language the attempts to define people racially. I appreciate that the words “Negro” in English and “Neger” in Dutch have explosive connotations. I do not use the words lightly.
“The Book of Negroes” is not simply the English-language title of my novel in Canada, the UK and many other countries, and “Het Negerboek” is not merely the literal Dutch translation of my Canadian title. It is also the name of a 150-page British naval ledger that documented the exodus of 3,000 African Americans from New York City to Nova Scotia, Canada at the end of the American Revolutionary War. The original copy of this ledger is kept in the National Archives of the UK, and I have studied it carefully. It is an important genealogical document, and provides much information about the Blacks who migrated from the USA to Canada in 1783. This was the first massive migration of Black people into Canada, and many of the “Black Loyalists” whose names are entered into “The Book of Negroes” left Canada after ten tumultuous years of oppression and sailed across the ocean to create the colony of Freetown, in Sierra Leone. This was the first time that the world saw an exodus of Black people from the Americas to Africa. Many of the migrants who are named in “The Book of Negroes” were born in Africa. After years of enslavement in the Americas, they gained their freedom and chose to sail back across the Atlantic Ocean to Africa.
I sought to dramatize and bring public attention to the lives of the 3,000 African people described in this important and largely forgotten historical document, so I named my novel after it.
The use of the title, “The Book of Negroes” (or “Het Negerboek” in Dutch) has offered me the opportunity to explain this troubling and largely forgotten history.
I welcome comments and criticism about my novel. Instead of burning my book by a monument that is dedicated to human dignity and survival, I encourage Mr. Groenberg and his followers to enter into an open and civil public debate.