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Reparation for all!


EDITOR: In his book Salt, Earl Lovelace defines reparation as an offering/act that allows the injured party and the aggressor to stand before each other and to look at each other simply as human beings once more.

Much has been said in this Emancipation month about reparation. In his calypso, Sulle spoke much of making “them” pay, and “they” should be made to pay with money. Throwing money at our problems will never be a solution, and any attempt at healing which starts in laying blame is doomed to end in bitterness. In my experience, solutions are born of a firm commitment to fight the good fight and a willingness to get my hands dirty. Make no mistake, both the INJURED and the AGGRESSOR are in need of healing, BOTH must have their dignity restored. {{more}}

The injured here have lost family, and culture. Those who survived cruel inhumane deaths were made to feel they were less than human, that they were “worth-less”. We have historically been kept at a disadvantage as explained by George Lamming in his Independence lecture (St Vincent 2003). He expressed the concept of the Hand. This oppressive Hand which had come to rest upon our people since our African Forefathers were captured. It has remained with us through chains, through racism, and now through unjust economic, and political regimes.

The aggressor through all this has been looked upon as an awful monster full of murder, rape, and every form of brutality and criminality. The white man, the white European and his descendants are the ones of whom all this is said. However what is to be said of the African aggressors, the ones who led the Europeans to the Forefathers and even captured and turned over the Forefathers to the Europeans? Must they not also be a part of this?

In this Emancipation month almost everything I have heard urges me to consider and internalize wholly and solely my African heritage. I cannot do this and remain true to myself. “Man, Know thy self!” Is this not what the philosophers have said? I know the African side of my ancestry is what is most visible in me, yet I have also Portuguese and East Indian ancestry and my family’s name is itself English. I will deny not part of my heritage! God has made me who he wants me to be and has chosen how I would come to be. I am a formidable specimen, wonderfully made. I would not change even a hair on my head.

In me as in many Caribbean People, the Injured and the Aggressor are met. In my heart through God’s Grace, they are reconciled, they are one. I have worth. I am a child of my Father in heaven.

Having white governments and companies simply throw money at us and walk away would not be reparation, it would be an insult! This is what deviants do to prostitutes when they have finished with them. All around us we see wounded people trying to fill the emptiness in their lives with more gold, more women, more cars, more men, more property, to no avail. Yet intelligent people believe and wish us to believe that what we need is white people’s money.

Reparation would be the bolstering of our education and healthcare systems with trained personnel, equipment, facilities, material/medicine and other necessary resources. Reparation would be assisting us to develop sustainable industries. Reparation would be removal of unjust economic and political regimes, ‘the lifting of the hand’. It would require staying the course and working alongside us, this would truly be Reparation for all.