Reparations council wants end to anti-black racism, injustice

THE National Council on Reparations has called for an end to anti-black racism and injustice everywhere.

In a statement, the council, an advisory body on reparations in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, whose members are appointed by the Minister of Culture, said that the death of American black man, George Floyd could mark a new era of respect for people of similar pigmentation.


The full statement:


“In 2015, the Jamaican Parliament unanimously passed a resolution moved by the Hon Mike Henry, setting out the terms for pursuing reparations from the British Government, to compensate descendants of Africans, who were first enslaved 400 years ago by them. The National Council on Reparations (NCR) in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport carries out its work to this end, within a context of persistent systemic injustices, racism and discrimination, as legacies of the brutal chattel slavery of the Trans-Atlantic trade in Africans, in ‘beneficiary’ countries.

“We call for an end to all practices which threaten the human dignity, the quality of life, and life itself, for black lives everywhere. In pursuit of our mission, we work cooperatively within the region and in solidarity with other reparatory justice groups focused on redress for African descendent people, who are displaced and otherwise disadvantaged. The NRC also joins hands in solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters many of whom are Jamaicans.

“The year 2020 is one that has provided clear insight into the disparities which negatively impact black people. The global spread of the contagion known as COVID-19, exposed the unequal access to proper health care and the incidents of lifestyle diseases, particularly rampant in black communities in the African Diaspora.

“Endemic police brutality and the abuse of African-Americans generally, have sparked global demonstrations against these atrocities, capturing attention internationally. The killing of the African-American man, George Floyd, at the hands of the police, has heralded what we all hope will be a new era in which people of African descent are respected as people. Four hundred years is a very long time to live in subjection, to a race with no natal superiority. In Jamaica we feel a great sense of belonging, however poverty is its own form of discrimination, as is ‘pigmentocracy’/colourism, and classism, which are remnant biases found in the delivery of services, and are inherent in key institutions, as well as systems. This requires examination and action.

“We recognise, therefore, that the ignoble stain of slavery is not only the entrenchment of anti-black racism, but inter racial discrimination, which makes urgent and resonant, the calls for justice, dignity, equality and recognition that black lives matter.

“The NCR takes this time to remember our fallen, and the countless souls who have suffered police brutality and wanton racism everywhere. Here, the chant of “Ghetto Lives Matter” is an echo of “Black Lives Matter”.

“Jamaica is part of the worldwide groundswell that Black Lives Do Matter and we are heartened that people across racial lines have spoken with their feet as well as their voices. We are bound together in ethnicity, common history, humanity and destiny. We take stock of Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ unequivocal condemnation of acts of racism in the United States and of his express commitment that human rights breaches locally are being addressed.

“The apology from the Judiciary and the Hon Chief Justice Brian Sykes’ action oriented response to the tragic death of Noel Chambers (who, like others, languished in prison without a trial for decades) also point to this being a pivotal time in our history, when all the arms of the State (the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature) are engaged in the embrace of the raft of changes we desperately need and deserve.

“The NCR now works with a heightened commitment and urgency to provide the Government with a roadmap to pursue justice on our behalf, to remove the vestiges of chattel slavery, and recover wealth generated by our ancestors for our development and empowerment.

“Reparations now!”

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