Throughout the United States, Black communities are fighting to restore historically Black cemeteries that have been trashed and strategically neglected by racist policies and government officials. This fight impacts all of us – our ancestors' spiritual wellness depends on their literally being able to “rest in peace!”
In many West African cultures, it is believed spirits can’t cross over to the afterlife unless they’re buried properly. But what happens if they cross over and then their grave is neglected, destroyed, or vandalized?
And what about the thousands of unmarked graves?
Throughout colonization, enslavement, and Jim Crow, Black people around the world were brutally murdered and disposed of – like the enslaved Africans thrown overboard into the ocean, or free Black people lynched and then left in the woods. There have also been Black cemeteries dislocated by gentrification.
How can we honor these spirits with symbolic burials to help them get to the afterlife and become ancestors?
There are many ways to honor these spirits! We can volunteer to help cleanup historically Black cemeteries, visit landmarks that pay homage to those who have been lost, or create our own honorary altars or burial grounds for them.
How will you continue to honor our ancestors, known and unknown, even if there isn’t an official gravesite to visit?
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