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Cameron is Ignorant, says Danny Glover - American actor/activist calls for discussions on reparations to continue

Published:Tuesday | October 6, 2015 | 10:00 AM
Danny Glover
James Early
Don Rojas
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He is known for his roles in iconic films such as the Lethal Weapon series and the Color Purple, but a little less-known fact about actor Danny Glover is his active involvement in the reparations movement.

Glover, who is visiting Jamaica at the invitation of chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission and vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles, stopped by the North Street offices of The Gleaner yesterday, where he expressed his passion for the black struggle and the cause for reparations.

It was against this backdrop that he declared as scandalous United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron's call for Jamaica to move on from the painful legacy of slavery.

"To make such an outrageous statement is an insult ... it's outrageous ... and it just shows his ignorance," Glover said while addressing a Gleaner Editors' Forum.

When asked if the call for reparations by people of African descent is futile, he said, "I'm not holding out for the reparations, but I think certainly that reparations provide an opportunity for us to organise in different ways around the question itself ... . If you don't bring up the issue, the brutality of it, you don't get a discussion around it ... . As always you are going to have people who take the most extreme position against it. They only take that position on it because they know it's a viable discussion, discourse happening."

As it relates to plans for Britain to build a prison in Jamaica, Glover said the Government should tell Britain to "keep your prison, give us schools, give us infrastructure, not prisons".

Glover was joined in his sentiments by Don Rojas, a journalist and political commentator who works with Glover through the Institute of the Black World, and James Early, who is a former cultural director at the Smithsonian Institution in the United States.

"What Cameron said was an insult. It was an insult to the nation of Jamaica and it was an insult to the entire Caribbean and black people around the world," Rojas said.

Drawing comparisons with the Jewish cause for reparations, Rojas argued that Cameron could not treat that issue with the same scant regard that he meted out to the Caribbean in regards to its calls for reparations.

"Think about if Cameron had said to a Jewish organisation, 'Forget about the Holocaust, let's get over the Holocaust ... .' It is Germany paying reparations, because of their crimes perpetrated against the Jewish people, that created the financial basis for the state of Israel to be established. Germany paid reparations to Israel for 10 years uninterrupted, billions and billions of dollars to establish today what is the most powerful and the most modern state in the Middle East," he said.

Expressing his own disdain for Cameron's statements, Early said: "Mr Cameron is ignorant ... he is not reading the signs of the time."

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com