A People's Historical Journey to Self Determination & Decolonization

The Ay Ay Islands, (f.k.a.) The Danish West Indies, (n.k.a.) Virgin Islands of the United States

Letter to The National Museum of Denmark

Caroline A. Browne

P.O. Box 307135

St. Thomas, VI 00803

Phone (787) 398-7681, Fax (340) 775-0635

December 27, 2016

Holiday Greetings National Museum of Denmark,

Thank you for providing the presentations on different aspects of Danish history as well as making them available on the worldwide web for public consumption. The variety of information is quite amazing and shows the pride and time taken in sharing this material.

While Denmark has kept very good records of the achievements of its society, there is no acknowledgement of Denmark’s contribution to the African Holocaust on both sides of the Atlantic.  This mass murder or genocide reduced to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade destroyed families as well as culture centers.  Denmark’s use of the term “the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade” cheapened the rape, plunder and pillaging of stolen resources like a trade deal gone bad. The Holocaust of Enslavement obliterated products and producers of culture: cities, towns, villages, libraries, great literatures (written and oral), and works of art and other cultural creations as well as the creative and skilled persons who produced them.

If we follow the theory of Danish archeologist Gudmund Hatt, he generally maintained that “Europeans in the tropics could only undertake hard physical work in highlands more than l,500 metres above sea level. The tropical plantation settlements with vital resources were, therefore, to be found in regions 'where climate prevents European immigration. The Settlers here make an upper class, exploiting the economic possibilities of the country by means of a subjugated race”.  He also gave the example of the extermination of older cultures in order to fit the industrial needs of Europe.

The presentations are told from the neutral Eurocentric idea/opinion established on “certain facts”. Based on the interpretations showcased, your country’s participation in the African genocide appears almost noble. The exhibitions shared give the impression that the African people migrated to Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas of their own free will as if going on a pleasure cruise. Instead this Holocaust provided/provides Denmark and its citizens the comforts and wealth generated from the enslaved people, their blood sweat, tears and their lives as well as the fruits of their uncompensated labor.

How is the presence of people of African/Negro/Negroid descent in the Pre-Columbian in the former Danish West Indies explained? Are the skeletal remains of the Pre-Columbian African people descent found by Gudmund Hatt and others also showcased?  This demonstrates the presence of African peoples in the former Danish West Indies before the arrival of Columbus.

The violence and mass murder inflicted on African peoples and societies violates human freedom, human justice and the value we place on human life in the past as well as in the present and future. This moral issue speaks not only to the human costs, but also to the element of purposeful intent.  It appears the theft of land, people and natural resources, were simply things for others to endure, in order to guarantee the success of Denmark.

I know this is generally an uncomfortable position the museum and Danish society finds itself in.  To repair this horrendous past and ongoing injury, compelling moral and legal steps must be taken.  As free persons of color living in the Danish West Indies during and after the Emancipation of 1848, we were considered neither citizens nor subjects and had no rights.  The Transfer of the former Danish West Indies to the United States of America, violated the freedom of people residing in this place and their rights to choose our destiny.  Instead we were transferred from one colonial master to another.

As you know, if not for the genocide and the most brutal enslavement of untold quantities of people on the African Gold/West coast, and their labor, Denmark would be a fraction of the country it is today. While Denmark seeks to celebrate/commemorate its old glory days of the Danish West Indies, it is done under a cloud of the exploitation and domination of others. The 2017 celebration/commemoration does little of anything to restore humanity to those enslaved persons and their descendants who contributed more to the survival of Denmark. How does the interpretation of history and the Hundred Year festivity repair and heal our world making it more beautiful and beneficial than it was before?

Your participation has created centuries of socio-economic issues that were passed on and supported by another Euro Supremist government that continues the work your country supported.  Focusing on Denmark’s participation in the African Holocaust in the former Danish West Indies from an ethical, moral and legal position is the first step.  As a person who’s ancestry is bound to the history of the former Danish West Indies, bringing into being a just and good society and the creation of a context for maximum human freedom and human flourishing is critical to our continued peaceful relations.  

As only one of many who grasps the position expressed above, we do not want aid or payments but for Denmark to restore what has been damaged and taken.  Indeed, it is only in such a setting that we can truly begin to repair and heal ourselves, our injuries, return fully to our own history, live free, full, meaningful and productive lives and bring into being the good world we all want and deserve to live in.


Caroline A. Browne