Is there a time in the Caribbean for racial equality, economic fairness, and justice from slavery?”

BY. R.D.

The unexpected phone call, but will it create momentum?

After the killing of George Floyd, an African American, in a police interaction in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a global social consciousness erupted, accompanied by large protests.

Protesters gather Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Minneapolis

Many organizations, led by Black Lives Matter use the occasion to seek a wide reversal of laws and policies that they said had damaged local communities of color socially and economically for decades.

This global reckoning on race relations has become deeply nationalized once more, but this time much beyond one race or group, which has resulted in seismic transformations.

The question of how long it will persist is still unanswered.

Nevertheless, the domino effect, some corporations that benefited from discriminatory practices dating back to slave ships have embraced symbolic gestures to acknowledge their past.

Scholars have identified many financial and insurance corporations throughout the world, and it is no secret that slavery was at the heart of capitalism.

After 130 years, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s Rice, and Mrs. Butterworth all changed their logos, which many argued were a racial stereotype of blacks.

Today’s global racial equity cry, on the other hand, is not the same as the recent women’s me-too campaign, in which women spoke up about inappropriate pervasive sexual approaches, harassment, and rape by prominent men, and swift action was taken.

Storm North finally made it to the beach.

Many parts of the Caribbean catch a cold when other large economies sneeze, but even if they are the only few droplets of sniffles or selective outrage, others argue that it is past time.

Despite the fact that many Caribbean islanders bravely replied to the world media’s recommendations, it was a positive step forward; but, what will it take to generate momentum and maintain a sturdy anchor that can be drifted?

The terrible colonial history of the Caribbean, which still bears its effect on many of the islands and towns today, cannot be obliterated with a rope, stones, or fire, as seen by the tearing down of historic generals or former slaves owners’ sculptures.

Furthermore, local managers who generally oversee enterprises in the region that once benefited from these ships have been called to resign as a result of criticism, fury, and inaction.

Unfortunately, despite educational and economic progress, many people on these beaches remain socially disadvantaged, and they cannot afford to tear down, block, burn, or vandalize, demand a meeting, or block some access to a building.

Many people would like to participate in these activities, but these few remaining locations are the only source of survival. Some risk their lives to eliminate an attempt to project a departure from its past.

Few will admit that the ongoing fight for equality and equity is not only against the impact of colonialism but also against class stratification, local poverty, inequality, which still exists on many of these coasts among persons of the same skin tone.

Colonial occupation has left a legacy in which only a new path of economic reconciliation for all will establish the first step.

Unfortunately, some leaders are unable to decide whether or not to protest, with whom to protest, or what structure to erect in order to steer this ship toward necessary reform.

As it stands, there is still a generational divide and a battle over who will benefit the most from not only an apology but also other forms of compensation.

However, it appears that addressing this issue will necessitate more than tweets, likes, and attempts to silence messengers based on political affiliation.

Youths, the community, and political alliances will need to provide fundamental support, education on this troubled history, as well as accountability to ensure that elected leaders do not lose hope, remain objective.

Furthermore, stay motivated off camera and to make the best decision for all, because change can only happen when people speak up together.

A delicate dance for equity:

If any of today’s buildings, contracts for imported goods and services, ports, and manufacturing are owned by foreign investors who will sit at the reparation table, me-too may not represent the oppressed.

Though there appear to be echoes of microphones, this does not imply that a closer look at its past is not planned; however, who is willing to speak up or be invited remains an open question.

Can they all afford to protest vehemently and how do you bite off the nervous hands that are only sustaining you?

And, if, as reported many of these islands’ debt levels exceed their economic output, with significant inflation and unemployment, where do you begin to negotiate, do you criticize them, or do you strike a deal?

If the Caribbean’s “me-too” response is for “reparation” or a unilateral economic package for better schools, education, acceptable healthcare, higher salaries for public workers, infrastructure, and new manufacturing businesses, it will be a great start.

However, like the ocean, openly addressing reparations for enslaved men and women is a matter of ideological waves as to where, who, and when any economic tides would touch its beaches that needed a new course first.

Some argued that, while eliminating several debts for many Caribbean islands would be beneficial, mental rehabilitation from slavery, regardless of independence or financial compensation, would continue to be a psychological drain.

Another example: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the existing insufficient healthcare system, the rising gulf between the haves and the have-nots, access to competent healthcare, and massive disparities since it arrived on the beaches.

Many lives would have been saved by a cost-effective and collaborative me-too for the opportunity to travel to other islands for correct diagnosis and necessary medical care rather than waiting weeks for urgent surgery or test results.

This pandemic has had an impact on tourism, which is one of the Caribbean’s most important economic and cultural businesses, and if one wins in fighting these issues and is willing to help the less fortunate, everyone will win on many other issues.

However, it demonstrates a lack of cooperation in the economy and security. It appears that who has a firmer grasp on the pandemic for the next terrorist money, or who had the most slaves, or who was the first to have a larger piece of this illusive reparation pie.

Unfortunately, if local reports continue to show widespread corruption, mismanagement of COVID-19 funds, and a system in which no one can agree on whether it will rain or which party is less corrupt in controlling these islands, it will complicate any future settlement.

Furthermore, with reported millions of dollars in debt owed to foreign investors, it’s almost as if you’re in a football game down 3-4 touchdowns with two minutes to go and the opponent has the ball.

Where does the Caribbean begin in terms of social and economic justice for Afro-Caribbean and ethnic minority groups?

In dealing with this new movement, it will come down to type leaders who tell the truth about the number of infected individuals, fatalities, and the true reason of death, rather than who delivered it there, for the benefit of all.

Again, it is a step in the right direction, but as of now, there are more questions than blueprints to begin building collaboration to make the case, as previously stated.

Lifting the anchor is a careful process.

This re-independence-me-too movement, as seen elsewhere where many nations’ systematic racism and barriers to economic prosperity for many people of color, and once who have been marginalized, being scrutinized globally, may mean different things to different people.

As a result, I warned against painting all nations seeking this reversal with the same brush, because the slave ships that carried many to this reckoning, while constructed of the same iron and chained to the same anchor, currently have different navigation systems.

It is not just about resettlement, re-distribution of land to the poor owned by elected officials or the top one percent of the rich, removal of colonial images from a local church window, lower interest rates on predatory loans, a new police station to combat violent crimes, and reported corruption or political alliances that only create a stalemate.

This reconciliation will not be based on skin color alone or widespread economic needs, or gender equity. It’s possible that the people brought to the tables are only interested in how much pie one can keep in their social class in order to keep their advantage status.

Many of the beautiful shores may be difficult to bring forward without some compensation from its once treasured soils, but it appears that many leaders are having difficulty identifying intolerance found elsewhere with the naked eye, possibly because many look like you.

Photo by Tim Mossholder

Unfortunately, many affluent islands and other impoverished and developing nations that have obtained an education and are now successful enough to buy their way into the upper crust have a lot of bourgeoisie-conscious colonial mentality.

To keep their standing, some will conveniently, or subconsciously yield power to the origins of colonialism, and as many have argued sometimes for financial or political benefit.

One diplomat commented, ” many are more foreign-minded than foreigners. As a result, any me-too moment for equality will be stymied by this mindset.”

Many people will blame the downtrodden structural difficulties on themselves or anyone who is not a member of the social elites. This, in my opinion, is no different than putting a foot on their necks when they are trying to stay afloat financially.

Though these islands remain a haven to temporarily forget about your outstanding debts and other problems; where the smile remains broad, and the provenance of the slave ships is never in doubt.

There is still a deep socioeconomic disadvantage, poverty, and in some cases, inadequate education, as well as high crime, have been ignored regardless of whatever political party is in control.

Internal political conflict continues, I believe, demonstrating some colonial doctrinal balance that despite independence, or more dependent today.

Is it poor management, or the anchor of a never-sunk slave ship?

A troubled History:

Because this isn’t a history paper, and I’m not a historian, when you consider these concerns and how the region came to be, it’s not just about figuring out how to be compensated, mentally untangled, or financially made whole, but about understanding its history and the complexities that are up against today’s tide.

Unfortunately, in order to grow their economy from Africa, many Europeans packed millions of people of color into ships without reservation.

Today, it is the foundation for understanding where this shadow over the region’s shorelines lies and what it will take to lift this anchor for economic prosperity for all.

Unfortunately, removing 400 years of colonial chains, regulations, and mental detritus that has been wreaking havoc on these impoverished areas like a catastrophic hurricane, creating administrative, economic, and social hurdles to upward mobility, is more challenging than good intentions.

Yes, some will argue that black people sold their own, but I would argue that did they had a choice in the matter and that their economic viability, if not their lives, depended on it, and as previously stated, I am not a historian.

According to history, the Caribbean islands were ruled by European nations such as the British, Dutch, and French. Previously, these lands were occupied by Denmark, Portugal, and Sweden.

They devised rigorous norms and penal laws since innocent people of color did not have a personal reservation, which has evolved into institutionalized institutional racism today.

Between 1788 and 1838, workhouses in Jamaica, the most important British West Indian colony, marginalized its population, which hampered the expansion of local sectors such as finance and manufacturing.

Today, many dark-skinned people have greater mobility, which has resulted in more recent free migration elsewhere.

The Caribbean’s hostility tone may have subsided since the cultural prohibitions of black settlement in some areas to interracial sex, which were part of the racial discrimination known as the “color bar” that severely hampered the region’s unique culture and economic growth, but it still resonates globally today.

It may create a melting pot atmosphere, but it still separates people by status and, yes, the complexity that many people of color face as a result of their horrible past.

Putting the pieces back together

Slavery split the territory into many plantations, which developed a protectionist and competitive system, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Today’s islanders aren’t from the sugar cane and coffee fields, and they’re free to travel between them, but some still perceive other islands the same way you do, and if they could build a wall, they would.

Even though slavery is no longer legal, how can one support the casting of a new fishing net in order to achieve a [me-too] balance dance when the justice system is riddled with gaps in basic democracy and cultural tolerance for all?

Photo by George Becker

After colonial domination, one must take a step back and critically test “Out of Many One People” and any other motto.

The Jamaican Supreme Court recently declared that a student could not attend lessons until she clipped her dreadlocks and that the school did not violate the student’s constitutional rights.

This decision shows that Rastafarianism is often regarded as a social misfit based on an antiquated colonial ideology and that this culture should be performed solely behind closed doors.

How do you achieve a balance if laws still exist 400 years later, and people in power have similar control over their subjects?

Without a doubt, the Caribbean is still looking for its soul, and if one’s hair was no longer allowed in the local school, what was next, a Rasta-only bathroom, dining room, and so on?

As the colonial mentality still remains, the availability of bleaching cream being bought in the region may explain the excess of bleaching cream being bought in the region for acceptance by many.

Bob Marley: From R.D. Library

As the colonial mentality still remains, the availability of bleaching cream being bought in the region may explain the excess of bleaching cream being bought in the region for acceptance by many.

The governor-general of Jamaica has recently discussed removing a British insignia, a medal representing a Caucasian person on the neck of a black person, from the neck of a black person.

The Order of St. Michael and St. George

Regardless of other systematic gaps, acknowledgment is the first step toward socioeconomic opportunity for upward mobility.

However, without the proper leadership and overwhelming community support, regardless of social class, I’m afraid they’ll all be wearing the official insignia, and the newfound “mee=Too” to re-write this checkered past, or perhaps just another gathering when there’s a headline.

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