Jamaica has put a price tag on slavery and has sent the British government the bill.
State officials of the Caribbean nation said they’re asking Great Britain to pay $10.6 billion (USD) in reparations.
The former British colony served as the center of the slave trade with Africans kidnapped, enslaved and forced to work on plantations which produced sugar cane, bananas and other products.
That free and inhumane labor greatly enriched the slave owners.
“We are hoping for reparatory justice in all forms that one would expect if they are to really ensure that we get justice from injustices to repair the damages that our ancestors experienced,” Olivia Grange, Minister of Sports, Youth, and Culture, told the Reuters news service.
“Our African ancestors were forcibly removed from their home and suffered unparalleled atrocities in Africa to carry out forced labor to the benefit of the British Empire. Redress is well overdue.”
In the U.S., Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee has pushed H.R. 40, a bill to form a commission to study reparations for African-American victims of the transatlantic slave trade.
“Has anyone addressed the question of slavery and its comprehensive impact on Black Americans in this country? This is what H.R. 40 will do,” Jackson Lee remarked.
While H.R. 40 doesn’t place a specific monetary value on reparations, it does focus on investigating and presenting the facts and truth about the unprecedented centuries of brutal enslavement of African people, racial healing and transformation.
The bill would fund a commission to study and develop proposals for providing reparations to African Americans.
The commission’s mission includes identifying the role of federal and state governments in supporting the institution of slavery, forms of discrimination in public and private sectors against freed slaves and their descendants and lingering adverse effects of slavery on living African Americans and society.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee, who sits on numerous House committees, including the Judiciary, Budget and Homeland Security, has made the reparations legislation her top priority during the 117th Congress.
“I think if people begin to associate this legislation with what happened to the descendants of enslaved Africans as a human rights violation, the sordid past that violated the human rights of all of us who are descendants of enslaved Africans, I think that we can find common ground to pass this legislation,” she said.
In Jamaica, officials displayed shackles, coffles, slave collars, cotton screws, bear traps, branding irons and other items used to control slaves as stirring evidence for the case for reparations.
“We need a sense of outrage directed at those who could do such things to other human beings,” Verene Shepherd, a Jamaican resident, wrote in a petition on the Facebook page of the country’s National Council on Reparations.
“Reparations now,” Shepherd declared.
According to the National Library of Jamaica, about 600,000 Africans landed in Jamaica during the slave trade.
“Seized from Spain by the English in 1655, Jamaica was a British colony until it became independent in 1962,” the Reuters report noted. “The West Indian country of almost three million people is part of the Commonwealth and the British monarch remains head of state.”
Britain prohibited trade in slaves in its empire in 1807 but did not formally abolish the practice of slavery until 1834.
To compensate slave owners, the British government took out a 20 million-pound loan – or $27.7 million U.S. – and only finished paying off the subsequent interest payments in 2015.
Slaves and their descendants have never received compensation.
“I am asking for the same amount of money to be paid to the slaves that were paid to the slave owners,” Mike Henry, a member of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party, told Reuters.
“I am doing this because I have fought against this all my life, against chattel slavery, which has dehumanized human life.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Slavery has sweetened tea throughout the world for hundreds of years using the most barbaric control methods.
    I find it astonishing that Jamaica has presented a reparations sum of $10.6 billion no amount of money will wipe away the amount of misery, unwanted death , stereo typing and the list goes on.
    That number should be doubled and the compensation should be paid directly to the off springs of our ancestors and not to any government bodies.
    The opportunities of funding Jamaican owned banks to help Jamaican people globally has to be the only way to go.
    Jamaicans would be in a position to build infrastructure for themselves for the first time such as roads repair, solar energy so that everyone can have electricity at affordable prices and supported living for the people whom need it the most.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *