The paper underlies exploring the complex nature and motivations of Caribbean resistance as expressed in “My Native Land, My Home”- how Claude Mckay evokes subversive potential through the poem and influences to literary works on the same. The re-definition and definition of centers of resistance can be denoted to be evident in the poem. From the dynamism of the poetry, it is implicit that there existed competing historical, cultural, social and political forces that have been at work in shaping the Caribbean resistance. The poem can be connoted to be one of the literary works where Mckay explicitly articulates his reservations on white authority. The poem’s expression can be denoted to be intricate as compared to the visceral expression of commonality with the oppressed blacks. Therefore, it cannot be restricted to a single ideological principle in the Caribbean process of resistance.
British influence in the Jamaican culture is clearly evident in the poet’s dialect. Jamaica Kincaid indicates that the most sinister side of colonialism is how it catalyzes the maturation of the ruling nation’s culture in rejection of the colony’s (Kincaid 365). Tyrone highlights that black Jamaicans were shaped to mature to “black Britons” (Tillery 13).“Dere is no land compare” with it “in all de wul’ none” fair to his “native land” his “home” is an assertive statement denouncing the white authority and influence (Donnell and Welsh 64). The Jamaicans were against the influence of the Europeans despite the fact that Jamaica was considered to be a “no-land race (Donnell and Welsh 64).” Nonetheless, Mckay marked the region as the “naygur’s place (Donnell and Welsh 64).” It can be denoted that the poet’s revolutionary potential is enabled by the inherent contradictions that form part of the political mythology the dominant culture disseminates in order to validate its own preeminence (Ramesh and Rani 50). The poem by Bennett “Colonization in reverse” denotes this dominance where it highlights, “Jamaica people colonizin Englan in reverse (Bennett 179).”
From Mckay’s position, it can be highlighted that Jamaica’s demanded to be identified as Jamaicans and delineated from the White authority and influence. The presence of the different races in the Caribbean was motivated by the historical injustices necessitated by industrialization that resulted in the hauling of African slaves and migration of indentured workers from India, Europe and other parts of the world. Bennett highlights that by “de ship load, by de plane load” the Jamaicans went to England (Bennett 179). It was in line with the historical migration of the white to Jamaica with an aim to colonize and hence, her insinuation of colonization in reverse. This was aimed at better rewards. Similarly, the subversive potential of Mckay’s poem is a call to migration- “We hea’a callin from Colon” and “Let’s quit de t’ankless toil an’ fret (Donnell and Welsh 64).” It was also aimed at resisting the meagre pay by the “buccra” and a move towards higher salaries.
From the poem, it can be gathered that the Jamaican’s were conscious of their land and embraced its beauty. Mckay describes Jamaica’s botanical cauldron, “Tis seamed with never-failing springs (Donnell and Welsh 64).” On this note, he denotes that “buccra” and the “Wid gove’mint an all de res,” spoil the beauty of his Mother country (Donnell and Welsh 64). It also denotes the value the Jamaicans had on the land in their native country. This sense of love and ownership can be connoted to be the poet’s call to resistance as regards preserving the integrity of the land and elimination of factors that spoil its nature. He excluded the “buccra” as part of the Jamaican community and hence, the overtone of the mentioned in ruining the lands in Jamaica. He continues to call on the sons of the land from ignorance and in preparation to drain their blood for their mother country (Donnell and Welsh 179).
Murray indicates that Mckay’s work can be highlighted as an exception to the old colonial mindset of Caribbean writing and his collections a precedent of later Creole monologs (Murray 41). The use of dialect and Caribbean culture in literary forms in the region and this can be attributed to Claude Mckay. Bennett can be highlighted as one of the artists inspired by Claude as she embraces the Jamaican culture and folklore (Bennett 179). Writers such A.J Seymour in “Sun is a shapely fire” call for equality and denounce colonial rule (Donnell and Welsh 157). It is also showcased by Albinia Hutton in “Plea” who invokes freedom from Britain and calls for equal rights (Donnell and Welsh 55). The revolutionary potential of Claude Mckay’s poems can be said to have influenced Caribbean and other writers on the possibility of using literary forms to radicalize individuals.
From this, it can be gathered that “My Native Land, My Home” defined and re-defined the centers of resistance from competing forces- political, social, cultural and historical. Claude Mckay objectified to revolutionize his people by evoking cultural emotions and a sense of belonging. It can be denoted that other writers have picked on the great literal artist approach in achieving the same.
Bennett, Louise. Jamaica Labrish. London: Clear-type press, 1966. Document.
Donnell, A and Sarah Welsh, The Routledge reader in Caribbean literature. London and New York: Routledge, 1996. Document.
Kincaid, J. On seeing England for the first time. 1991. Document.
Murray, M. Island Paradise: The Myth : an Examination of Contemporary Caribbean and Sri Lankan Writing. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009. Web.
Ramesh, K and K Rani. Claude Mckay: The literary Identity from Jamaica to Harlem and Beyond. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006. Web.
Tillery, T. Claude McKay: A Black Poet's Struggle for Identity. University of Massachusetts, 1994. Document.
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