My family lived in Jamaica under British rule. Their struggle should not be forgotten.

Cianna Greaves’ grandmother Keturah Matheson, born June 4, 1911, St. Ann’s, Jamaica.

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The pomp and circumstance of the funeral for Queen Elizabeth II is over, but her legacy is still up for debate. She has been described as a complicated woman, with a complicated family, who had a complicated relationship with the millions of people she ruled over during her 70-plus years on the throne.

It wasn’t that complicated. It was colonialism.

The British monarchy for me will always symbolize imperialism, empire and its legacy of slavery and displacement. Of poverty and partition. Of political murder and white supremacy.

As a child of West African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants, the generational trauma of imperialism were part of my everyday life.

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The rampant colorism, classism and blind fealty to an abusive and exploitative church all featured heavily in my upbringing.

And yet when I heard the news of the Queen’s passing, it took my breath away.

I could feel the weight of history bearing down on me at that moment. But it wasn’t just the history of Queen Elizabeth and the royal family. It was my own history. The history of my mother, my grandmother and of all my Jamaican family.

A sense of pride

My lifelong interest in Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family was spurred by my mother and grandmother. Both women were born in Jamaica when the nation was still under British rule. Despite their feelings about the imperialist forces that worked against them, for most of their lives on that island, they both felt deep affection and respect for the Queen.

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My mom in particular felt a sense of pride in the monarchy that was never completely understood by her American children. Her life in Jamaica was one of poverty and hardship.

She was born Delores Nicely in Spanish Town, Jamaica on Feb. 2, 1941, and emigrated to America in the late 1960s. She was the fifth of seven children born to my grandmother Keturah Matheson, who was born in St. Ann’s, Jamaica in 1911, just days before the coronation of George V, Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather.

Most of my mother’s stories of growing up in Jamaica had a common theme of shame and poverty. She told us about the jeers from her classmates at her shoes, which were no more than tire rubber strapped to her feet. Gathering scraps of fabric to make ribbons for her hair. Often going to bed hungry because there wasn’t enough food for her and six siblings. 

There was, however, one fond memory from her childhood. It was the story of when Queen Elizabeth II came to Jamaica in 1953 two years after she ascended the throne. My mom and grandma lit up as they …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times


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