The T&T National Committee on Reparations (TTNCR), which comprises Africans and First Peoples, offers its deepest sympathies to the family of George Floyd and the thousands of other African-Americans and First Peoples in America who have suffered racism, discrimination, injustice and domination in the United States.
George Floyd was murdered on May 25 which is observed as African Liberation Day, the date which commemorates the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union.
African Liberation Day has helped to raise political awareness in African communities across the world. It has also been a source of information about the struggles for liberation and development.
It is significant that this year is the 50th anniversary of the T&T Revolution of 1970 (Black Power) which was led by the National Joint Action Committee. NJAC had its genesis as a reaction to racism against black students in Canada. That reaction was exacerbated by the West Indian government’s indifference to the lack of justice and aroused 56 days of demonstrations in T&T.
The TTNCR stands in solidarity with American citizens in over 75 cities and as well as people on other continents, including persons in the media and creative arts. We, too, say, that enough is enough.
The dying cries from George Floyd (and Eric Garner) have been taken up among the demonstrators in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, mass unemployment and economic dislocation. The cries remind us of the eminent Martinique-born anti-colonial philosopher and activist, Frantz Fanon, who once said, “When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.”
In that context we need to remind the Government of T&T and other Caricom states that reparations for a multitude of injustices have never been far from the consciousness of Africans and First Peoples.
The Conference of Heads of Caricom, 2013 unanimously supported a proposal to engage the former colonising nations on the issue of Reparations for Caribbean people for the Crimes Against Humanity of native genocide, the transatlantic slave trade and a racialised system of chattel slavery.
The Caricom Reparations Commission has adopted a ten point plan of action which highlights many matters which are being raised the current unrest.
The TTNCR finds it ironic that the uprising in the USA takes place during the International Decade for Peoples of African Descent which is committed to look at issues of development, recognition and justice.
With regard to justice the UN has stated that states should take a number of measures, including, “preventing and punishing all human rights violations affecting people of African descent, including violence, acts of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, including those committed by state officials.”
We also find it ironic that while the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the deaths of a disproportionate number of African-Americans and other minorities, they are out, together with Whites, endangering themselves in the protest demonstrations, clearly not concerned with masks or social distancing.
The TTNCR believes that it is incumbent on us to look at the current American situation with a very clear understanding that it is very relevant to the Caribbean for all the above reasons.
The militaristic response of the unsympathetic, incompassionate Donald Trump-led American administration poses dangers to us who share the same concerns as this contemporary coalition of African-Americans, Latinos, the American First Peoples and Whites who have directed their collective strength against the evils of racism, discrimination, injustice and domination.
The presence of these plagues has been as virulent as the COVID-19 pandemic and like the medical vaccines that we seek we have to find ourselves critical social immunisation so that future generations do not have to suffer what the families of George Floyd and others had to experience.