By Thomas L Blair copyright© 05 February 2014
Massa day dun come. It’s payback time for slavery, said Caricom nations. Why? “It is an historic wrong that has to be righted” said St Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, a leading campaigner.
Furthermore, “The legacy of slavery and colonialism in the Caribbean has severely impaired our development options,” Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer told world leaders at the UN General Assembly. But will the poorest of Black Britain’s kith and kin benefit from reparations?
THE BLACK BRITISH INTEREST IS CLEAR
Many families in London, Manchester and Birmingham have relations back home. Often their money transfers are a lifeline for dependent children, ailing elders and women guardians of family small holdings.
Hence. support for reparations is seen as a vital part of Black British links with and responsibilities to their distant homelands.
This sense of duty has an added cultural value. Awareness of one’s hereditary affiliations will engage the rootless young adults.
(Just as true for major outposts of the Diaspora in New York City, Washington and Miami and Toronto and Montreal.)
REPARATIONS IS A LEGITIMATE CASE FOR ENGAGEMENT
Hence reparations is a crucial issue for West Indians abroad. The Hon Bernie Grant MP knew this. He raised the issue of reparations for development in Parliament and in the European capitals of colonialism.
Latterly, Esther Stanford-Xosei, advocate for the Pan-African Reparations Coalition in Europe (PARCOE) has demanded “how can the Caribbean even begin to enter into negotiations without establishing dialogue with Africa and its descendants in the Diaspora with Caribbean links?”
Therefore, the payback for slavery is at heart a liberation struggle that every one can support legitimately and spiritually. It is an historical struggle, not just for repayment, but to directly engage in the development and advancement of homeland labouring communities.
REPARATIONS MUST BENEFIT THE PEOPLE, SAY BLACK BRITONS
Now is the time for a more radical agenda. A charter that commits the nations, and their ex-colonial powers, to greater public spending on family welfare, health and education and more critical actions on behalf of marginalised communities.
“CARICOM owes it to the sons and daughters of slaves and their ancestors to take on the might of Europe and win”, concludes the editors of The Voice, Britain’s Black newspaper.
USEFUL NOTES AND SOURCES:
On Caricom: Representatives of Caricom, the 15-member Caribbean regional group, made their payback move at the United Nations General Assembly, the world’s leading global forum, in New York, late September
The Jamaican Gleaner on reparations http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=46488
The Voice on compensation http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/should-we-be-compensated-slavery, and editorial in print The Voice January 30-February 5, 2014
On behalf of PARCOE: Esther is a Broadcaster on Britain’s first and only licensed African community radio station, Voice of Africa Radio. http://www.estherstanford.com/
Relevant works by Prof Blair in the British Library http://socialwelfare.bl.uk/subject-areas/services-activity/community-development/editionsblair/black13.aspx