(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – We join annually with communities across the world in marking the moment in which the crime of chattel enslavement was confronted and uprooted from our existential realities. For us, the moment is August 1st; other dates are determined elsewhere and officially recognized.
Marking the moment in a celebratory fashion remains necessary despite the despicable nature of the gesture of Emancipation, legislated by Britain in 1838. It was an act in which black peoples were finally defined by Parliament as property, and their enslavers deemed entitled to compensation for property loss.
Today is an opportunity for descendants of the enslaved, and enslavers, to reflect upon the causes and consequences of these crimes against humanity, and in particular their significance on how we live today, and will in the future.
Rising up from the barbarity of bondage, we have dedicated our development energies to the advancement of democratizing social values, with a primary emphasis on building societies that are free and fair; upon platforms of multiracialism and multiculturalism.
As descendants, we celebrate the values of human decency left as an additional burden for our ancestors to carry. Every day they imagined would be an Emancipation day. They protected and projected the best tried and tested human values – joys of family life, fine spirit of community living, vitality of food security and material production, moral commitment to equity and justice, and critically the overarching, indispensable importance of freedom as the source of all happiness.
Effectively transcending and conquering the legacies of enchainment, impoverishment and racial denigration continue to elude us. Residual elements of the plantation-based past continue to shape our societies and determine their trajectories.
This year, we find it necessary to litigate the restoration of democratic rights and citizenship, illegally stripped away by the British government from thousands of Caribbean descendants rightfully living in that country since the immigration door was opened to passengers aboard Empire Windrush in 1948.
Last year, evidence of hostility against the Caribbean community by the British state erupted against the background of data, unearthed by historians, showing that the finance bond, by which the British government raised £20 million in 1834 to pay reparations to slave owners, remained active until 2015.
This fact powerfully shows that, for the British state, the slavery world persisted well into the 21st century, putting to rest its argument that “slavery was a long time ago”. These contemporary examples show how the effects of historic crimes still surround our societies. ‘Emancipation’ for us remains a work in progress and in no way can be considered a distant event that is settled and closed.
It is specifically for these reasons that we celebrate Emancipation day as a moment in which we demand reparatory justice. The Caribbean calls upon the enslaving governments of Europe, and their national institutions, all enriched and empowered by their crimes against humanity, to return to the region in order to participate in cleaning up their colonial mess. The advancement of economic growth is dependent upon it; social justice is dependent upon it; and a 21st century humanity is dependent upon it.
As we confront the future, let us be guided by Sir Arthur Lewis, who stated in 1939 that the 200 years of unpaid labour extracted by the British from the enslaved people of the Caribbean is a debt that must be repaid to their descendants. This is important, he asserted, if we are to have a fair shot at sustainable development. Pushing ahead with a self-emancipatory agenda is critical, but we must do so fully conscious of this broader context of our development efforts.
Blessings to all on Emancipation day.
Emancipation Day, a Good Reason to Give Pause
Barbadians join former colonies to celebrate Emancipation Day on August 1.
There can be no disagreement the Black race had to endure a form of slavery that to this day weighs heavy on the conscience of world citizens. Some will engage in a spurious rebuttal that the immoral act of chattel slavery practiced on Black people should be distilled using a logic that it was the legitimate activity of the day. What cannot be refuted is that until the Slavery Act 1833 Blacks resident in the Mother Country (England) and its colonies were regarded as chattel. Then there was the apprenticeship period where the former slave masters exploited Blacks because it was determined that it was cheaper to pay a rock bottom wage or provide room and board to the former slave in exchange for labour. A capitalist thinking?
The benefit of slavery is that the White race was able to accrue great wealth to build an establishment that to this day supports how the so called developed world does business to the marginalizing of minority populations. More fundamentally the period of Black slavery practiced by the British empire created a White supremacy mindset the legacy of which is with us today. Dismantling the legacy thinking to promote an equal global community continues to be a work in progress. The establishment will not yield to demands from former colonies for reparations. It is not in the nature of man to surrender riches even if ill gotten. The blogmaster’s perspective is that demand for reparation by Barbados and other former colonies is not just about compensation in the form of a money transfer – it represents the opportunity for the former colonist to record on history’s page the egregious business of slavery.
We fast forward to 1 August 2018 and so the struggle continues as we celebrate Emancipation Day. Many Black Barbadians – especially the young – will remember today as a day to recover from attending RISE. How many will participate on the Emancipation walk to Bussa statue? How many Blacks are aware there is a walk?
To Barbadians every where, the struggle continues to nurture a just society for all. One that we can make proud for our children and future generations to cohabitate on the planet. We must never forget what our Black forefathers had to endure to support what we have been able to achieve to date.
The following is the Emancipation Day message from Sir Hilary Beckles, the Chair of the Caricom Reparations Committee:-
Emancipation Day message from Chair, CARICOM Reparations Committee
Press ReleaseJuly 31, 2018