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Young people needed in the reparations fight

Research Officer in the Office of Reparations and Economic Enfranchisement, Shane Archer is passionate about reparations and fighting for reparatory justice.

The graduate of the University of The West Indies with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Law said that his passion for reparations stems from recognizing the treatment his ancestors received was degrading.

“My passion for reparation generates from two distinct ideals. First, reparation infers acknowledgement of the immorality of slavery and the recognition that the treatment meted out to our ancestors was demeaning, degrading, and demoralizing. Although this acknowledgement does not erase history, it begins the healing process. Secondly, the societal benefits that can be gained through reparations can be truly rewarding. I am not just speaking about monetary benefits but also the psychological such as the ability to access ancestral documents. Then there are also those which are nation-building such as scholarships,” he said.

Archer said that reparations are important because our ancestors need to be given justice for the heinous crime of slavery.

“Reparations means justice. Justice for the crime against humanity committed in the establishment of European modernity. Over 20 million Africans were reduced to the legal status of property. Justice because the productive labour of enslaved Africans provided the platform on which many European countries now strive on from an economic standpoint. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade was by far the world’s largest commercial enterprise at the time and at the abolition of slavery, no reparations were paid to those enslaved or their descendants or apologies made. Our societies were forgotten and as a result, we now face many socio-economic issues because of underdevelopment in several areas. So that, reparations is ideally justice for the wrongs which took place not only in Barbados but also the entire Caribbean and many other nations,” he said.

The twenty-five-year-old who is passionate about reparatory justice said that with Barbados becoming a republic on November 30th 2021 it is tantamount that persons understand the interconnectedness between republicanism and reparations.

“As Barbados gears towards a republic, it is extremely important that we understand the relationship between republicanism and reparations. Republicanism can be tied to sovereignty. As a republic Barbados’s Head of State -President will be determined by Barbadians through our elected officials with all former rights and privileges transferred to our President. Our official oaths will remove reference to the Queen. Our properties will now be vested in our State not the Crown and any prerogatives and privileges subject to the Constitution. The step of becoming a republic is but the final step in what can be termed as the long road to sovereignty. This journey can be considered as starting with the Charter of Barbados in 1651 and then the move to self-governance and independence in the 1960s. This step towards “complete independence” must be viewed as Barbadians finally taking control of Barbados and charting our own destiny. However, to be able to successfully chart our course we need to resolve many of the economic, social, and psychological injustices which resulted from our ancestors being enslaved and colonized. This is where reparations step in. Reparations focus on how the ancestors of the enslavers and colonizers of our ancestors will make amends to offset these injustices,” he said.

Archer who the youngest member of the Barbados National Task Force on Reparations said he believes that younger persons should be involved in the fight for reparations.

“To have younger persons interested and involved in reparations, we must first educate young people on what reparations are and how do we go about advocating for reparations. Many times, persons are of the point of view that reparations are all about money, but it is more than that, reparations are about repairing society not only from an economic standpoint but also social and cultural. The Caricom Reparations Committee formulated a 10-point plan on which outlines the path to reconciliation, truth, and justice, I believe this is a great starting point for young persons who want to be further educated on reparations. Apart from that I strongly believe that having reparations introduced in history syllabuses across the primary, secondary, and tertiary educational systems, will also be key,” he said.

The former student of Coleridge and Parry Secondary School said that the Barbados National Task Force on Reparations is currently engaged in a public education program dubbed My Trident Is Broken which can be viewed on Instagram.

“The Barbados National Task Force on Reparations is currently engaged in a public education program where the purpose is to have Barbadians further educated on the topic of reparations. At the moment the initiative is solely based virtually, so many interviews are currently being recorded as well as the Barbados National Task Force on Reparations entering the community to hear the ordinary Barbadian views on reparations. The reparations movement in Barbados and the wider Caribbean has been on the rise in the past few years, we often hear Sir Hilary Beckles, members from the Pan Africanist movement, Rastafarians and many others speak so vigorously about the topic. Our Prime Minister Mia Mottley is also a passionate advocate for reparations. The movement in 2021 is more reliable than it has ever been with many Caribbean governments implementing programmes to educate their population about the topic. The CRC 10-point plan is an example of how serious CARICOM is as a region in fighting for reparatory justice,” he said.

Archer said that the Barbados National Task Force on Reparations is seeking to connect with the youth by having programmes that seek to educate the youth.

“I think the Barbados National Task Force on Reparations can connect with the youth further by implementing more public awareness programmes targeted at the young generations because our young Barbadians need to understand their history. There is currently a social media initiative that we have embarked on recently, the objective is to educate and increase youth participation in the fight for reparations. The Instagram @mytridentisbroken was created for this specific purpose and so far, the response from the youth has been outstanding,” he said. (Write Right PR Services)

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