It has been more than puzzling why descendants of African enslaved people who were forced to the Caribbean, South, Central and North America have, for some reason, felt obliged to either pretend the legacy of slavery no longer impacts their daily lives or those who carry on the noble fight for social, racial and economic justice are scorned when they demand that those who benefited from 400 years of slavery, find some way to repair the damage.
We know that slavery did more than damage. It was the worst atrocity committed against a people and for the longest period in mankind’s history.
There is still an inclination, particularly by some middle and upper-class Blacks, in their never-ending quest to “fit in”, feel perfectly fine with the status quo.
But as is on full display in the United States for the world to see, attaining the highest level of academic, sporting, financial and even political office, provides no shield from those who still see people of colour as mere chattel, as object of otherness.
Oprah Winfrey with all her fame and billions of dollars was rejected by a European luxury store clerk when she attempted to purchase an item the assistant conceived no Black woman could have the wealth to purchase.
Likewise, president of the Toronto Raptors Masai Ujiri was assaulted and cursed by a lowly white sheriff as he tried to join on-court in celebrations in California with the 2019 NBA champions. Again, the law enforcement officer made a presumption about a Black man’s place.
In the Caribbean, we have a champion in the cause for reparations in University of the West Indies Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles. He has made it clear that there is no need for further discussion or contention on the matter. As he puts it, the case has been made and it is time for the judge to deliver a ruling on the damages to be awarded.
His has been a fight at the intellectual, economic and historical level. It has been a small victory for black people of the region to have institutions such as Barclays Bank acknowledge that it has been built on the blood of enslaved people in British colonies such as those in the Caribbean.
The goodly Professor and historian knows well that an acknowledgement is but a first step and there is so much more work to be done.
In 2007 the New York-based Restitution Study Group uncovered what appeared to be solid evidence that two prominent slave trading bankers from Liverpool, Benjamin and Arthur Heywood, had founded Heywoods Bank in 1773 on profits from slave trading. Heywoods was taken over by Martins Bank in 1883 and was purchased by Barclays.
Earlier this year, the UWI head addressed a United States Capitol Hill hearing on reparations. And while we doubt that such pleadings and arguments, no matter how convincing, will be doomed to a slow death under the current Republican leadership and President.
Sir Hilary, who for the record, sits on the board of directors of one of Caribbean’s largest financial institutions which was founded by Barbados more than 100 years ago by the island’s privileged white class, has made the issue of reparations for Caribbean peoples his decided crusade.
While a few years ago, his call for reparations would have been seen as an extraordinary demand, in an age of social justice, it fits perfectly with the global calls for fairness and justice at all levels.
“We know that the Caribbean was the place where the business model for all the crimes against humanity were committed. It was the Caribbean that suffered the fundamental genocide of the native people. It was the Caribbean that became the model of African enslavement . . . . It was the Caribbean that had the longest journey with colonialism. . . . The Caribbean is still a place where there are colonies in significant numbers,” he explained bluntly to participants at the Twenty-eighth session of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee meeting of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
We too are convinced the time has come for those who profited including the descendants of such privilege to see it as their moral and ethical duty to seek to repair the damage.
One Reply to “#BTEditorial – Who is going to pay for the blood?”
The writer of this excellent article…Surely speak for all
Right thinking, progressive,
Knowledgeable DESCENDANTS OF SLAVES
IN THE DIASPORA.
OUR BLACK LEADERS NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO THIS TRUTHFUL ARTICLE
AND ACT UPON IT (ASAP).
EVANGELIST OSRICK THORNE
(A DESCENDANT OF THE LATE GREAT J ALBERT THORNE
WHO MORE THAN MERITS
NATIONAL , MONUMENTAL
HERO STATUS…. ALONGSIDE NANNY GRIGGS.. ALONG WITH OTHERS….. INCLUDING MY FELLOW CHAPMAN’S LANE BRIDGETOWN COMPATRIOT THE LATE
SIR JACKIE OPEL.
EVANGELIST OSRICK THORNE
COME ON PM..DO THEM JUSTICE BY NOVEMBER 30TH 2021