Sun | Aug 9, 2020

Black lives should matter in our courts

Published:Wednesday | July 15, 2020 | 12:23 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

With the exception of the Court of Appeal in Jamaica, every morning our courts commence their sitting with the police shouting, “God save the Queen.” Yes, I know it seems unbelievable that, in 2020, this continues, but it is true.

As we look at removing the vestiges of our sad colonial past, this prayer to save the Queen of England remains a painful, anachronistic retention. Will we allow the marginalisation of our people to continue so that the preservation of colonial relics will survive the year 2020? To this burning question, let’s shout a resounding NO!! When we ask God to save the queen, where is the space for God to save OUR lives?

Why do we not feel that our lives matter sufficiently, that we ignore ourselves to ask for the preservation of the life of the Queen of England? This is a monarch who has refused to offer an apology to those asking for her life to be saved. Atonement and apology for the genocide of our people – which Britain presided over for three centuries – have never happened.

Queen Elizabeth II is the great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. In April 1865, Victoria was petitioned about the suffering of the people of St Ann. This was the same year that the very same suffering led to the Morant Bay massacre ordered by Governor Eyre. The petition was signed by 108 formerly enslaved people from St Ann, with only 26 being literate enough to sign their names. She replied, saying that they should work harder so that the planters could pay them higher wages.

TURNED ITS BACK

She closed the door on a people, penniless and uneducated, when those same planters had just received £20 million in abolition compensation, and the formerly enslaved got nothing for their own years of unpaid labour, nor for the centuries of unpaid labour beaten out of their parents and grandparents!

So the descendants of the people who got nothing, continue – in the halls of justice – to pay homage to this monarchy which turned its back on reparation for the mess it left here.

As a people, we MUST believe that Black lives matter also, as “none but ourselves can free our minds”, and cease asking God to save Victoria’s great-great-granddaughter. And since Black lives matter, we should, henceforth, open our courts with “God save our people, and let Her pay reparations.”

BERT SAMUELS

Attorney-at-law

bert.samuels@gmail.com