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'An apology is not enough,' We must demand reparations

By Britney Gordon

In response to apologies offered by nations directly responsible for the persisting effects of slavery, African descendants were advised by cultural researchers to persistently demand reparations.

Recently, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stirred controversy over what several Caribbean nations deemed to be an “insufficient apology” for the Netherlands' contribution to slavery. The topic reopened the discussions on reparations and whether they are due to the displaced African Diaspora. In an interview with The Reporter, the former Director of Belize’s Institute for Social and Cultural Research (ISCR) of the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH), Nigel Encalada, spoke on why demanding reparations is such a pressing matter in the African diaspora.

“When we consider the broader picture, the black descendants are still dealing with prejudice and the setbacks of being displaced. There cannot be a real or genuine apology if they offer no reparations. When slavery ended, they were not frightened to pay the slave owners, while slaves got little or nothing,” he remarked.

Encalada further explained that the displeased reaction to the Netherlands’ apology is an indication of how an apology from Britain would carry over in Belize. “If Britain were to pursue an apology, it would need to come with reparations. The source of their power is wealth, and the displacement out of West Africa is severe. We have to make sure justice is served. Just as it has been demanded by the Jewish and the Native Americans.”

Noteworthy effects of slavery that still plague the community, highlighted by Encalada, are the lack of access to education and healthcare. He stated, “The obstacle of universal education, which is the right of every child to get an education, black children struggle to finish primary school in many communities, and it gets harder at the secondary and tertiary levels. This is why you have to have dialogue first and foremost so that these nations understand why they are apologizing and can act to fix it.”

Finally, Encalada maintained that the topic of reparations is “nuanced” and will never be satisfactory to all parties involved, however, he declared that It could have a positive impact on the broader world and may lessen the Caribbean's dependency on developed nations.

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