Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Asking for reparations is not asking for a handout

Published:Thursday | August 4, 2016 | 8:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I congratulate Mr. Gordon, the writer of the Letter of the Day (August 3, 2016) to see the world from such a rose-coloured view and to be so positive. I guess he is freed from mental slavery. However not everyone can be so dismissive of the hardships of the past as we are in some way or other shaped by what was. And part of what was is the harsh reality of slavery.

In the ideal world we can all be like Mr. Gordon who refuses to define himself by colour. But when the world which we live and try to operate in define us by our colour we have little choice but to do otherwise. There is this mistaken notion that asking for reparations is asking for a handout. No! Asking for reparation for slavery is asking for recompense for the evil that was done to our forefathers and consequential feelings of low esteem that was passed down to the majority black population of this society and which stifles our growth in so many ways.

Whether Mr. Gordon likes to admit it or not, slavery overshadows everything. It prescribes and permeates our culture in many ways. Where else does the idea of browning and bleaching come from? So while we are happy for Mr. Gordon, unfortunately, the majority of us are unable to shrug off the circumstances of our birth with quite the same assessment that it was of 'nugatory value'.

Learning from history does not mean we necessarily forgive it. The Jews should never forgive the holocaust. Neither should we slavery. Recognising your role in shaping your own destiny does not preclude that you forget your forebears and how their pain might have shaped you for better or worse.

It is time that the descendants of the perpetrators of slavery who benefited massively from a horribly repressive economic and social regime also recognise and pay for the sins of their fathers.

MARGARET MORGAN

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