As governments and the civil society movement prepare for a major conference on reparations in idyllic Antigua next month, the Jamaicans have not surprisingly fired the first salvo in the battle over the amount that nations such as Britain would have to pay for their role in the brutal trans-Atlantic slave trade.
General view of the Island of Gorée, Senegal, which was from the 15th to the 19th century, the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast.
With a sweeping and widely praised new essay on reparations in the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates has challenged Americans to reconsider how they view their country’s history and to place the influence of white supremacy front and center. Rather than imagine the damages inflicted against African-Americans by white supremacy as having occurred mainly during the antebellum period, Coates asks us to recognize how Jim Crow in the South and redlining in the North denied black people the means to build real, stable lives for themselves, directly explaining the disproportionate poverty we still see in the African-American community today.
I speak this evening, in this honourable chamber of the House of Commons, as Chairman of the Caricom Commission on Reparations.