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We were genetically modified during slavery – Professor Beckles

We were genetically modified during slavery  – Professor Beckles

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Caribbean governments today are spending up to 80 per cent of their budgets on education and health, because of the centuries of slavery enforced by the British on our African ancestors.{{more}}

Professor Sir Hilary McD. Beckles is of the view that this is one of the most compelling reasons why the British government should come to the table and hold talks with Caribbean leaders about the “elephant in the room” called reparations.

Beckles, delivering a lecture entitled: Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide, last Tuesday, pointed out that “something happened to us” during the years of enslavement under our European masters.

“We have been genetically modified during that slavery period,” Beckles told the audience at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown.

“You take a people, put them on an island for 300 years; give them salt fish and salt pork every day, over-work them, under – mine them, sell their children, rape their wives, make them work 20 hours a day, malnourished, and take them through that stress profile, that physical, mental terror, what you get, hypertension and diabetes.

“It was the same then, as it is now.

“When the doctor tell you to learn to relax, take out the salt, well you can take out the salt, but your foreparents couldn’t take it out, because that’s all they had, and now the result is that black people in the Caribbean cannot metabolize salt and sugar, because for 300 years, that is what they were fed on plantations. Plus the stress; so we cannot metabolize salt and sugar, and now we all have a salt and sugar problem.”

The centuries of poor health care, Beckles noted, have made black people in the Caribbean, the unhealthiest people in the world, with over 60 per cent of the population in the region having either hypertension or diabetes, or both.

He also pointed out that drugs for these ailments, which work for whites and black Africans, are not as effective when used to treat Caribbean blacks.

Beckles said that this economic burden should be borne by Britain, who benefitted the most from slavery in the Caribbean.

“We are spending millions of dollars to deal with this, to fight hypertension and diabetes in the Caribbean; that is going to be the number one economic crisis in this region for the next 20 years, unless we find and answer to it.

“Because after 300 years, the British have left Caribbean people illiterate and unhealthy…, which means the governments of today have to clean up illiteracy, and clean up the ill health, do not have the resources to do it.

“I like to use Jamaica as an example: after 300 years, the British left Jamaica with 80 per cent of its people illiterate. When Jamaica went into independence in 1962, 80 per cent of the people were functionally illiterate and they say to Jamaica with their two million people: ‘go and develop.’ There is no nation on this planet, using any method of economic development, that could transform a society with 80 per cent illiteracy into a developed nation in 50 years.

“It is impossible, because from the illiteracy springs a whole range of other conditions that undermines the best thrusts for development; you have to deal first with removing illiteracy and then you have to move to deal with health because health and illiteracy are linked,” Sir Hilary said.

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