In Search of Ibo Landing….

Back in September, my good friend and I ventured to St. Simons
Island to visit the ocean and place ourselves on historic Ibo Landing
and other various places our slave ancestors formerly occupied (See:  http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2895
for the story behind Ibo Landing).  Much to our dismay NONE of the
visitor’s center brochures/maps even made mention of Ibo Landing. This,
however, had no bearing on us for we are known for going rouge and
finding what we have sought out. What was much more disturbing is that
upon discovering the location of Ibo Landing—a MONUMENTAL site of
historic importance for anyone of African descent in this country–we
were barred from it because “its on private property”.
Feel me?

I have been trying to work through the anger, rage, insult, and
feelings of being violated since then.  Daaiyah and I were able to view
the site from the side of the road, but I still feel a tremendous void
and ache in my soul about being denied access to something that should
by all rights not be ANYONE’s private property.  Ibo Landing is “in
someone’s backyard”.  Are you serious? How DARE they allow such a
sacred site to be owned, to be part of some affluent sub-division.  It
is shameful on an island that has resurrected and restored other
notable points on the map of American history, but has done nothing to
acquire this property for its historic value.  But then, I must
remember that what is valuable and sacred to my heritage is seldom
valued by others in this country.
Walk with me….

To add insult to injury…we did discover a map of African American
historic interests and immediately set out to find them after paying
the proper homage to Ibo Landing from a far. Some how, the slave
cemetery of Retreat Plantation has been protected and for obvious
reasons we sought it out. It is couched somewhere on the grand property
of the Retreat Golf Course and exclusive Golf Club.  It was
permissible to drive on to the property and view the “majestic”
greens…but when I stopped to ask the gatekeeper about viewing the
cemetery I was met with smuggness and a swift rejection: “Yeah, its
around here but its only open to direct descendents”.  He didn’t
entertain any other inquiries and it was obvious that he wanted us off
the property. Now, sure…I understand that one’s last resting place is
to be protected and respected.  I can dig it. Let’s be clear. Me and
sista Daaiyah only had intentions of doing some righteous praying and
maybe leavin’ a lil somethin’ in honor of the dead.  But really? You
are gonna deny me based on a genealogy that you made sure was wiped
from my memory and your records? I mean, we are talking about a slave
cemetery!!! How many of those who descended from the Retreat Plantation
slaves actually KNOW who their slave ancestors were or where they are
buried????  How does one prove that one is a direct descendant?Would
you know me by sight? By name?

I’m sure he could have provided an answer to these questions had he
entertained them…but for me that is neither here nor there.  As far
as I am concerned I AM A DESCENDANT OF ALL SLAVES and I have a right to
view and honor the last resting place of “the slaves who were
ourselves”.  I can’t help but come to the realization that in so many
ways we are still being owned.  This Golf Club literally OWNS some of
our ancestors and has the power to deny us access to our own people. 
Now what kind of TRASH is that???Was I expecting too much by thinking my
skin gives me some sort of privilege or access in this matter? I mean,
really…tell me if I’m trippin’.

I was overwhelmed with so many emotions.  I felt helpless.  I felt
the tears sting my eyes.  I felt the uncontrollable urge to moan and
wail like I had lost a child. I felt the hair on my arms stand up,
readying myself to assualt this man who meant me spiritual harm. I felt
that familiar tingle on the back of my neck telling me I was not
alone. I felt my mouth begin to foam in insane rage.  My breathing
became arhythmic and stuccato, my blood pressure rose like the sun, 
and my muscles trembled.

I suppose I’m sharing this partly because I need to get it off my
chest.  I have been so shaken by this experience, I think, because it
had so much to do with a spiritual connection to our past. I still feel
wounded right here in this very moment.  Another part of me wants to
have a conversation about how to heal from these subtle, but often
spiritually seismic blows.  I have to admit, I don’t feel empowered
enough to make any changes for future seekers of Ibo Landing or the
Retreat Village Cemetery, but I do know that my unresolved
tension/anger/hurt is not imagined and this time…I just can’t act
like it didn’t happen.  So let me hear from you….this is not just my
hurt.  Let’s talk about our ancestral legacies and what it means when
we can’t have access to them.    Let’s talk about the kind of damage
that is done and how to reconcile with it—I’m not sure I’ll really
heal from it.

Moving towards Peace,
KM

Dunbar’s Creek, the site of the incident @ Ibo Landing. St. Simons Island, Georgia.

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