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THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS

 

THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS

Caribbean, British and American historians have long documented the extent to which the business of enslavement enriched Europe and underdeveloped Africa and the colonies. Dr. Eric Williams the first premier of the twin Islands of Trinidad and Tobago, in his seminal work, Capitalism, and Slavery explored how at its most basic, slavery laid the foundation for the economic development of Europe. He argued that the vast surplus earned from slavery provided the material underpinning that the European elites used to finance the industrial revolution.


Robin Blackburn, a British Historian argues in The Making of New World Slavery, that African slavery not only enabled European capitalism but also the entire bedrocks of modern Europe. Blackburn details how Europe’s development of modern city-states, with its tax systems, financial industries, consumer economics, and a full range of modernity in Europe was built on the back of enslaved Africans.

Sir Hilary McD. Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, is the author of Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide a book he wrote in response to Great Britain’s declaration at the 2001 United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, in Durban, South Africa, that the genocide of indigenous peoples, the Atlantic slave trade, and institution of slavery carried out in the West Indies were not crimes against humanity when they were practiced. Beckles argues that Britain’s refusal to accept responsibility for its centuries of exploitation and the resulting injustice, economic exploitation, and continued white supremacy which it birthed was a feeble attempt to deny the demands of the Caribbean Reparations movement.


Beckles insists that Britain’s moral bankruptcy is compounded by its failure to answer the call for reparations given that British slave owners were paid twenty million pounds in compensation for surrendering their slaves at Emancipation.