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The reparation discussion

By Darrion Narine, Programme Coordinator, CCSJ/AMMR

On Friday, March 25, the United Nations recognised the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, one of the greatest atrocities to occur in human history.

The impact of slavery is still seen today in our Caribbean region and across the globe. There is trauma and culturally inherited injustices that continue to impact and cause the suffering of many in the Caribbean.

Our economies, diets, workplace practices, race relations and much more aspects of our society have been adversely impacted by slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. For example, the high sodium concentrations in the diets of the average Caribbean person can be traced back to slavery.

“The adaptations made to food practices during slavery decreased the nutritional value of the previously healthy West African dishes” (Vance 2018).

Another, reality is an internalised societal prejudice against darker skinned individuals, for example viewing African hairstyles as being inappropriate for the workplace is a racist practice that has roots in slavery.

Furthermore, economically, colonial powers across the globe have milked the resources of countries in the Caribbean during the period of slavery and used the money earned to build their nations. There are ancestors of this region who died working under perilous conditions for free.

Many people in the Caribbean are becoming more aware of the modern-day impacts of slavery as seen during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the Caribbean region in March, where  there was a unified call for an apology and for England to  pay reparations for what was done.

The reparations discussion has drawn significant controversy globally, since some people believe that the past should remain in the past. To that I say, the past informs our present.

There were gross atrocities committed against the people of the Caribbean and at the very least there should be discussion around the way in which reparations can be made.

This can take many different forms inclusive of better trade policy, monetary reparations, or the giving of other resources to the countries of the Caribbean who suffered the most due to slavery.

It is a social injustice to ignore what Europe has done to the Caribbean during the period of slavery and indentureship. The demand for justice by the people of the region is a necessity.

A movement towards global solidarity and development and the recognition of the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person begin with past colonial powers acknowledging their contributions to a fragmented and suffering world. The days of  over glorified monarchies are over.

We only recognise one King, and He reigns from the Heaven above. It is our duty to always seek justice.



“The parable [prodigal son] is clear and straightforward, yet it also evokes the interior struggle that each of us experiences as we gradually come to know ourselves through our relationships with our brothers and sisters. Sooner or later, we will all encounter a person who is suffering. Today there are more and more of them.” (69)

– Pope Francis, Fratelli Tuitti

CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee