At a press conference held by the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM’s) Reparations Committee last week, the group’s chair, Sir Hilary Beckles, announced that an 1824 loan taken out by the British Government for restitution to British slave owners for its financial losses from the end of slavery, was just completed in 2015.
The revelation was in response to a tweet by the Government’s Treasury that said, “Millions of you helped end the slave trade through your taxes.” Beckles said that Britains have been paying off the loan for money that went to slave owners and their descendants since the nineteenth century.
Now, since a large Caribbean and African diaspora are British citizens, they too participated in the process. Ironically, descendants of those enslaved never received any form of compensation.
The revelation ramped up the conversation for a call for reparations from European superpowers that gained profit; and caused lang-term problems for people of African descent following the end of slavery.
Led by historian and UN associate, Professor Verene Shepherd, The Centre for Reparations Research at The UWI Mona Campus in Jamaica was established in 2017. One of its main missions, is to foster more public awareness of the adverse and long-term affects of European invasion, slavery and colonialism.
Much research has been done to show that slavery and colonialism are rooted in many problems throughout the Americas and Caribbean.
After slavery, British colonizers and French enslavers requested reparations when slavery ended in their colonies; thus further crippling former slaveholding nations that were mostly people of African descent.
According to its mission, The Centre states the following iniative:
“will lead the implementation of CARICOM’s Reparatory Justice Programme, which broadly seeks to foster public awareness around the lasting and adverse consequences of European invasion of indigenous peoples’ lands, African enslavement and colonialism in the Caribbean; and offer practical solutions towards halting and reversing the legacies of such acts.”
In 2014, award-winning writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates brought back the conversation of African-American reparations in an in-depth piece called, The Case for Reparations.”
In the story, he shows how slavery financially stabilized European and American economies, as well as, created generations-long discrimination that continued to disenfranchise black people.
During Reconstruction in the United States, talks of reparations for blacks circled in political discussion. Some land was given to blacks, but reparations in whole, never became policy.
In the Caribbean, the Rastafarian community are noted for beginning a large rally cry for reparations. While Ghana provided a form of reparations to descendants of slaves by offering land and dual citizenship, Nigeria demanded reparations from England for its devastating impact during colonialism.
Although reparations movements ebb-and-flow, a huge victory its proponents came in 2016 when the United Nations said that the U.S. owes blacks reparations for 245 of unfair disadvantages. For them, the trauma of discrimination continues.