Will Caribbean Reparations Movement Spark Revitalization of the Same in U.S.?

A nineteenth century bilboes for an adult, typically found on slave ships, on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
A nineteenth century bilboes for an adult, typically found on slave ships, on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Underdevelopment in the Caribbean is a direct legacy of the slave trade, and descendants of enslaved Africans should be compensated accordingly.

Picture this scene. It was almost surreal, improbable just a few years ago: a room filled with presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers from the fifteen-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM), all listening with rapt attention, several nodding in agreement, as Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, one of the region’s most distinguished academics, and perhaps the Caribbean’s most prominent public intellectual, gave a riveting report on the recent work of CARICOM’s Reparations Commission, which he leads.

Yes, “reparations,” as in compensation for the crimes of slavery and indigenous genocide at the hands of former European colonizers—reparations, as in reparatory justice for the horrific consequences of two of the greatest crimes against humanity in the history of this planet—the 400 years of the African slave trade and the systematic and calculated extermination of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

This scene played out in the conference room of the beautiful Buccament Bay Resort on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent on March 10, 2014; the occasion—the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community. Contrary to what a casual observer could conclude, this was not some gathering of flaming radical black nationalists demanding reparations from white society.

There was applause at the end of the professor’s report. Not a single dissenting voice was heard from a group of leaders whose politics ranged from conservative through liberal to progressive. The CARICOM heads of government then proceeded to unanimously adopt a ten-point programfor reparatory justice for the region.

This breakthrough plan calls for a formal apology for slavery, debt cancellation from former colonizers and reparation payments to repair the persisting “psychological trauma” from the days of plantation slavery.

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SOURCE: Don Rojas 
The Nation

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