Being a citizen of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, I shall do my best to make suggestions from a Caribbean perspective, and not just only from a Trinidadian point of view.
When the term “Caribbean reparations” are discussed, a lot of people think it’s just about “Europe and England giving money to poor black people in the Caribbean”, and it would be a bad idea for the Caribbean economy. Moreover, concerns are raised on how damaging to the Caribbean economies, as it relates to inflation.
This may have some truths, but reparations can be so much more dynamic and can potentially be delivered in so many other ways than simply only giving cash to descendants of slaves.
Furthermore, the effects of the proper administration of reparations for slavery in the Caribbean would give black Caribbean people dignity, and economic equality (as compared to East Indian, Syrian and Chinese descendants in the Caribbean).
Reparations in CARICOM must be a model of restorative justice for all affected, by not only 400 years of slavery, but as a result of the colonial wrongs done to blacks after slavery that came in the form of economic neglect and social apathy and disrespect towards black people within the English-speaking Caribbean diaspora, immediately and long after slavery had ended.
History have shown that the Jews received their reparations by being paid some USD100 Billion or more by Germany after the World War 2 for the Holocaust. For Apartheid, black South Africans received hundreds of millions of US dollars or billions from whites there in the name of Justice. Other countries paid reparations to certain people that suffered and died under cruelty of war and oppression.
So now is the perfect timing for black Caribbean justice to be given out by UK and Europe as reparations repayments to CARICOM people for 400 years of human trafficking, murders, free and forced labour and other atrocities. Even white descendants of plantation owners in the UK and Europe were paid billions for over 200 years for their so-called economic loss of income due to emancipation of black people from slavery in the Caribbean.
I realized that some of my ideas for Caribbean reparation is very similar to that of the Caribbean Reparations Committee, but this is pure coincidence.
These suggestions for European reparations would ultimately raise the living standards of Caribbean people in the English-speaking West Indies:
• EUROPE AND UK MUST APOLOGIZE: A comprehensive apology from all European participants in African slavery to affected countries of Western African and especially to blacks descendants of slavery in CARICOM region, should be first and foremost;
• HELP STRENGTHEN THE BLACK ECONOMY: The “black economy” is primarily “sports and entertainment”. Therefore, Caribbean artforms such as Sports such as Football, Track and Field, and Cricket, and entertainment genres like Calypso, Soca, Reggae, Dancehall Music, Zouk, Steel Pan Music, DJs, Arts and Crafts professionals, songwriters, record producers and various Carnival festivities of all Caribbean territories. Black participants of these activities should be able to comfortably ply their crafts for a living. For this to be a reality, these practitioners should be given more recognition internationally through reparations. For example, Caribbean entertainment practitioners should be given more access to international mainstream markets by way of strategic partnership with large Streaming platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music. In addition to that, popular record labels and their European subsidiaries such as Virgin Records, EMI Music Publishing, Sony Music UK and Warner Music Group.
As such, Caribbean Musical collections agencies such as Copyright Organization of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT), the Jamaican Association of Composers, Authors & Publishers Ltd (JACAP), the Barbados Copyright Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers Inc. (COSCAP) and the Eastern Caribbean Copyright Collective Organization for Music Rights (ECCO) should all be allowed to form permanent strategic partnership with Musical collections agencies in the USA, such as ASCAP and BMI, and PRS, MCPS and PPL in the United Kingdom.
This means, these multi-national companies should set up offices here in the Caribbean with an objective to help Caribbean music develop and reach wider audiences. Surely, reparations can assist Caribbean musicians and entertainers throughout the region to establish sustainable partnership with powerful Entertainment Media Houses such as VIACOM and SKY UK Ltd. so thar black West Indian entertainers can earn more internationally from royalties through Streaming, Music Publishing and other Intellectual Properties.
More airplay is also needed regionally and internationally for songs from new artiste throughout the English-speaking Caribbean. Caribbean music should also be a part of European school curriculum from elementary schools to universities in United Kingdom, Spain, France, Holland, Italy, Portugal Germany and Belgium (and to some extent, the United States of America too). Too many iconic Caribbean entertainers are dying poor.
• FREE EDUCATION: As far as education is concerned, European reparations should fund Caribbean university education for all African descendants up to Master’s degree and in addition, give free vocational skills training for the next 50 to 100 years. In Trinidad and Tobago, there is the Government Assisted Tuition Expenses (G.A.T.E.), and the European Union and United Kingdom through reparations can extend this tertiary education model throughout CARICOM. Our government says that they cannot afford to keep funding G.A.T.E. so they propose to soon phase it out. However, reparations can help keep free tertiary education going for generations throughout CARICOM;
• FREE HOUSING: Free housing for those who do not own homes and/or provide mortgage reliefs and subsidies for non-home owners who do not qualify for home mortgages should be of paramount importance for European countries paying reparations to CARICOM. For instance, reparations could be in the forms of giving homes (or lands) to those who do not own homes;
AGRICULTURAL INCENTIVE: Reparations should also provide agricultural lands to black farmers in the Caribbean and provide subsidies at Agricultural Banks throughout the English-speaking Caribbean. Free access to technological support for farmers, lowers export tariffs, and free lands-for-the-landless and Training should be allocated to all black farmers;
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Throughout the region, there are many Caribbean visionaries that have superb business ideas, but not the capital to make these initiatives possible. Once again, reparations could help through setting up business grants of between USD50,000 to USD150,000 depending on the business plans. Ongoing support and training are also needed to ensure sustainability for black business owners;
TECHNOLOGY: As we enter into the information age, Reparations should ensure that all black Caribbean people are, not only thoroughly computer literate, but students for instance (from elementary schools to universities), should be given state of the art computers, laptops, tablets and other gadgets to facilitate learning. Computers and accessories can be expensive for those who need them;
• FREE TERM LIFE INSURANCE: All blacks over the age of 18 years within the English-speaking Caribbean should be given free term Life Insurance of at least USD75,000 Sum Insured. Many Caribbean folks do not have insurance or cannot afford Life insurance. So, when these people die, nothing is left for their loved ones. This only creates a cycle of poverty and despair;
• HUMAN REPATRIATION: There are some African descendants within the Caribbean diaspora who feel strongly about returning to the motherland, Africa, but don’t know how to do so. The European Union and United Kingdom through reparations should provide free airfare and resettlement programmes for any black person interested in permanently returning to whatever African country they feel connected to. Additionally, Europe should help black Caribbean citizens rediscover exactly which African state they originated from and which tribe we belong to. Thirdly, funding to set up businesses in Africa, or finding jobs and free access to all levels of education should also be an integral feature of reparations for black Caribbean people;
FREE NON-VIOLENT OFFENDERS: Quite a lot of black people are in prisons for petty offenses, and this only frustrates the Judiciary and Penal systems.
Laws in the Caribbean Court of Justice (perhaps with the aid of The Privy Council) should be amended to pardon these people;
CARICOM MUST SEVER LEGAL NECESSITY FROM PRIVY COUNSEL: Reparations should also come in the form of legal independence, as well. The Caribbean Court of Justice should be the last appellate court in CARICOM Caribbean because we in the Caribbean no longer The Privy Counsel of England.
MONETARY REPARATIONS: It’s the little things that count, so even if every black person in the CARICOM countries get USD100,000.00 (One Hundred thousand dollars in United States currency) into their bank accounts, this would be welcome;
• DRAFT LAWS IN UNITED KINGDOM, EUROPE AND USA TO BAN RACISM AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PEOPLE FROM AFRICAN DECENDANTS: True globalization can never be achieved unless international laws should be drafted to make racism against Blacks and minorities, a criminal offense. Of all races, African people everywhere are the most disrespected and suffer the most racial abuses, globally. Even in sports internationally, black athletes are racially taunted by spectators at stadiums. This goes against societal progress in every way if, today, people are still judged by the colour of their skin and not their contributions to humanity.
Case-in-point, why is it illegal to make anti-Semitic remarks against Jews, yet we (African descendants within the Caribbean and US diaspora) yet blacks are not given that same respect, socially and legally?
I specially want to express my sincerest gratitude to these distinguished people: Vice Chancelor or U.W.I., Sir Hilary Beckles of Barbados; both Prime Ministers of SVG and Trinidad and Tobago Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, and Dr. Keith Rowley for addressing the issue of reparations in the Caribbean; Jamaica (as a country) and the Caribbean Reparation Committee (C.R.C.) at CARICOM for the continual lobbying and tireless work being done to ensure that blacks within CARICOM Community receive reparations from UK and Europe for slavery now.
It’s now time for us as a region, and as a people to stand-up and lobby for our pay-back for the injustice of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.