Sir James Mitchell says the idea of reparations is “stupid”

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Sir James Mitchell says the idea of reparations is “stupid”
Sir James Mitchell
Sir James Mitchell

Former Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines thinks the idea of Caribbean states demanding reparations from European powers for slave trade is “stupid”.

Mitchell said it is no secret that slavery was cruel and nobody needs to explain what it caused to many generations of African ancestors and families, but he believes it is time to move on.

“It is like somebody telling you that Jesus is a Christian,” the former SVG prime minister said while addressing the 39th Annual United Workers Party (UWP) Convention on Sunday.

Mitchell said Caribbean citizens have various ethnicity, stating that there is no one colour in any home in the Caribbean or Saint Lucia, because “we all mix up.”

He said he had a white father and a black grandfather and was wondering, “who will compensate who?”

Mitchell said Caribbean governments need to ask which of the European countries will compensate them, since the Dutch, British and French all played critical roles in slavery.

“What we should be concentrating on, is how we can get the industrial developed countries to spend more money on us. We have to learn to forget about the word slavery,” he remarked.

Mitchell said Caribbean people should concentrate on working hard and regardless of their trade or profession; they should always seek to get on top and improve their quality of life.

Most of the Caribbean nations have adopted a single plan to solicit from former slaving nations an apology, more aid and damages for 300 years of slavery, which they say have hobbled their economies and public health.

They are also seeking debt cancellation, greater development aid as well as unspecified financial damages for the persisting “psychological trauma” from the days of plantation slavery.

The demands are being made of former slaving nations: Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and The Netherlands.

The Atlantic slave trade took place from the 16th through to the 19th centuries.

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33 COMMENTS

  1. The issue is a sensitive one and most of you have only offered emotional remarks. Where valid points were made they can also be rebuffed. I have thought this thing over carefully and i have on these posts made that same point (as James Mitchel) long before him. Who would you compensate as many of us have white ancestors? i know that we have never checked because of our propensity to avoid doing research and instead dwell on voodoo.

    Two of the valid points made are in reference to Indians of North America. The land belonged to the native indians therefore the white man came as a conquering force and plundered. Take for instance our indigenous Carib population who were wiped out, has a case ever been made for them? the other point someone made was about the Jews, this occurred within fairly recent memory. The state of Israel was only established in 1947, how would you if you were the UN establish a state of exiled people without compensating them? compare that to the African slave trade which occurred 500 years ago where descendants of masters have mixed with descendants of slaves themselves.

    I am not belittling the fact that slavery is a horrible and reprehensive act, however at any particular time all parts of the world had slavery. Slaves built most great civilizations including those of Greece, Rome, African and South American civilizations. All tribes enslaved the other depending on their superiority. Take a look at the populations of South American Indians that were decimated upon the arrival of the Europeans, the Inca, Mayas and Aztecs. Even within our part of the world the Caribs enslaved and killed off the Arawaks and even had a hand at destroying populations of Europeans who settled in the Caribbean.

    To add to our dilema, which European do you think went into the African jungle to capture slaves? In fact we were sold into slavery by Africans like us after being overpowered or enslaved by them. So the idea of reparation where does it start? We only seem to ask for it now that we cannot pay our bills. But there had been a period where we used to splurge and waste much money. We always thought that we sort our independence. What about insisting at the time against independence? However we thought we were big men grabbing our you know what. Putting stones in banana boxes and all, when we had some preferential treatment. Why didn't we take full advantage of the situation to propel ourselves to financial independence? We therefore cannot blame entirely other persons for our mistakes, and whether they were committed a long time ago we must accept some responsibility.

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  2. All of you are just typical and outright incapable of grasping his point. We choose to blame our history for the conditions that we are in...IN NO way am i suggesting that our captive and tortured ancestors did not impact the upbringing of this country...but to hang on to it as an excuse to remain where we are is simply a means of being lazy. This ought to be motivational to bettering the island on the whole. I totally understand the objectives of reparation...but its concept is simply to broad...the point exactly is who pays who?...what if barbados is not satisfied..what if st.lucia is not satisfied...you guys need to think of the technical part of this matter...how about in the light of this....we negotiate proper education, scholarships, exchange programs...bettering our infrastructure...god knows Castries, Vieux-Fort and Soufriere could do with a face lift...ask them for tourism...ask them for investors....send business our way...lets see if they can help us bring bananas back as one of our main exports....cocoa..spices....these are the thing we ought to plead for....A BETTER ECONOMY....a monetary request will lead to nothing but buttering a bunch of waste of space individuals pockets...

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  3. And we respectfully ask you to keep quiet... you fools are those who refuse to recognized that these British French And Americans have destroyed the black people for many years and the side effects of slavery still lingers on today in our world.... not even offering a solution they have decided to brush it aside thinking that we are bad.... look at how blacks all over the world is treated you are branded as minority, third world etc etc have you even thought about that .... what wrong in Braitin, France America helping to give folks and opportunity to work on the wrong they`ve done us.... look how they treat us to travel to their country you still need visas etc etc to go there they don`t even recongnize you as part of their systems even after years of stealing taking and abusing that which wasn`t theirs in the first place.. Can you imagine we doing this we would be branded with all types of terms and imprionsed which is happening .... black folks have to go through things harder, just to prove themselves worthy, you can`t come back to some of these caribbean islands because most of those who left went to the lands of opportunity and never got the opportunity unfortunately our so called Green grass countries have decided to send back thousands of criminals .... take a look now over the islands of the caribbean record cases of crimes which our lovely islands have never seen before.... so before you talk nonsense with your poshe lifestyle take some time to put the other shoes on the ones who didnt get a chance just like yourself.

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  4. Reparation is STUPID?
    Really!!! Is Mitchell promoting a book? If so don't buy the book. I think it's a big mistake for the UWP team to have allowed, James Mitchell to speak in their convention with a message like this. St. Lucians can connect the dots now of days, the very hope of reparations (in any form) inspire many to do their best to survive . But for a man of high yellow colour to come and tell us; "work hard and forget about slavery..." is not what a party leader of similar complexion should associate himself with. We should demand to hear what Allan Chasnet has to say about that or take good note to make proper decision when it matters. Be aware of white or high yellow complected people, they don't think the same as most people of African decent. Remember, when we forget our past then we allow anyone to lead us anywhere but with a sound knowledge of history we lead ourselves where we want to go. J. Mitchell is a sell out. Thanks.

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  5. People do not bite the hand that feeds egos. ! James Michell is a remnant of the archaic British Empire system and can only uphold it. The very system that compensated slave owners handsomely when slavery was abolished but did not consider compensating the slaves for exploitation of their labour and inhumane treatment, and the wasteful loss of human lives transported to perilous islands in the creation of GREAT BRITAIN.

    Caribbeans should stop serving two masters - one that strokes their egos and the other that nurture and provide them a place in Caribbean society from where they can spout rubbish!

    I would consider James Michell opinion worth listening to if he had not accepted a knighthood.

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  6. Having read the statemenst made by Sir James I am convence that he maybe senile. In that case I will attempt to excuse him. I have always ask myself why is it that all other races come together for the betterment of their people but when it comes to us Afro-West Indians we fight against each other? We should take a page from the Indians, the Jews, the Native American Indians just to name a few.
    We can do our research and it is easy to find on the web. There was a land mark decision whereby the Federal Government had to pay out billions of dollars compensation to Indian tribes over century-old claims to money and land.
    The Jews and West Germany came to an agreement for reparation which was signed on Seotember 10th, 1952 and entered into force on March 27th, 1953. According to the agreement, West Germany was to pay Isreal for slave labour and persecution of Jews during the Holocaust and to compensate for Jewish property that was stolen by the Nazis.
    How dare this man say we as a people should move on and focus on other things? Should you want a better appreciation of what our people went through during slavory do go on Youtube and watch the video "Goodbye Uncle Sam." You will have an even better appriciation for reparation. Just Saying.

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  7. Fool's gold. This is an issue politicians use to get people to lose focus on the real issues of the Caribbean. High crimerates, unemployment the slowing economies, crooked politicians not getting punished. Let's face it, the politicians would collect these funds not the people, and this money would be wasted ,and or embezzeled just as our current taxes are. It's not going to happen, take the emotion out of this and face reality. Politicians always get people to fantasize then rob them blind.

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  8. Sorry, the above is a rebuttal of what this fool said on Sunday at the UWP Convention in Gros Islet Sec. School. He and his cohorts, particularly Mary Issac, referenced their remarks to Stephenson King...(another one all together!)

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  9. Com-par-way,zon, indiscreet... and you, yourself, has been in ACTIVE politics for over 30 years. Remove the twig from your eyes, first, to see properly...and to come all the way here to spill your vindictiveness and divisiveness...oh well you are in good company!!

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  10. Sounds like a slavemaster, telling people to 'work hard', as if being lazy is the cause of economic problems in the Caribbean. Nothing could be further from the truth I've never seen such a set of hardworking people except perhaps Africans.

    There is no one on this earth who has worked harder than enslaved Africans in building up Europe's wealth. Any moral and decent person would know that reparations are due immediately to all Caribbean, African and other governments affected by both slavery and colonialism. Keep putting on the pressure, CARICOM, and don't listen to people like this who seek to devalue the work and worth of black people.

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  11. This are the type of people amongst us who would sell us all back into SLAVERY. It is obvious that this fool never suffered the effects if slavery. Man you need to know yourself, without knowing who you are. You will never know where you are going.
    The truth about these mulatto is they are children of rape. That alone speaks to why he has these views. etc.

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    • And I'm assuming that you suffered the effects of slavery. You were sold as a slave, you were owned by a white man, you were forced to work in a cotton field from sunrise to sunset, you were forced to watch as your mother, sister were raped by the slave master, you were beaten and not fed when you didn't produce enough for the day.
      I feel sorry and ashamed for people like you, People who refuse to just put the past behind you and move on. It has happened, I' m not happy about it but guess what we can't change the past and we also should not forget it but Will $1 or $1million dollars make right all the trials and tribulations that our great grand parents went through during this dark phase in our history?
      Typical lazy man mentality always want something for nothing; have you ever stood in a cotton field picking cotton, Let me guess NO. so what repatriation are you talking about. Lazy fool get up and work for what you want.
      Put that energy into educating yourself and being a productive member of society instead of having a hand out asking for something you never worked for.

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  12. We need to focus on this issue properly with no emotion. The larger countries are very mixed racially now and their populations would not necessarily agree to reparations. The argument must be carefully construed that there rich economies were built at the expense of an enslaved people. As such this created a massive deficit amongst these peoples of culture, economic foundation, pride and education.
    In light of this a larger proportion of their aid budgets should be focused to eradicating the results of that deficit. The UK alone had a 12 billion pounds a year aid budget that they spend pretty foolishly (just google it and be amazed) . Our politicians should be trying harder to make solid cases for greater access to those aid funds for education, poverty eradication, healthcare , cultural assistance and business development. Unfortunately our politicians are only interested in grandiose capital projects for obvious reasons.

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  13. He said his father is half white. That says it all. He probably never saw the real black man struggle. Why did France order Haiti to pay 90 million Francs when they left in the 1800s? They wanted reparations for returning the country to its rightful people. Then tried to reclaim Haiti through the Americans? The fact is these European nations benefited from our slavery long after they left our shores and gave us "Independence". Look at all the plantations lands, they are still owned by whites and their descendants. They didn't just pack up shop and leave our lands for us. They stayed behind and created new ways to enslave us- colonism, capitalism, globalisation. We are still suffering the effects today. I don't think they need to give us a huge cash settlement but the European countries can do more in terms of undoing all the negatives socio-economic effects of slavery.

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  14. This man is talking through the hole he has where the sun don’t shine. It is on apologists like him that the former colonial masters depend to defend their lowly deed, slavery. If you ever wondered what the type who would easily sell his brother into slavery look no further.

    The shameless fool has the nerve to tell us to forget……note he did not say forgive but don’t forget…..he said forget our slave past. Sir, in your book, that may be possible but not in reality. No country, no people have never been freed without having to fight for its rights. The USA the bastion of freedom fought the British for 13 long years. More recently the Cubans remained resolute in their position until they gained their self-respect.

    Alarm bells should be ringing because it is the very one Chastanet’s UWP invited as guest of honour at its convention. Personally I don’t think this man Chastanet, who is Caucasian and don’t even speak with a St Lucian accent would care much for our history. In fact if there is anything to go by there it is. This is a slap right across St Lucia’s slave past and it is done with contempt. The words were uttered by James Mitchell by the blow was struck by golden balls Chastanet.

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  15. I must add that the real question is whether the reparations are deserved ? The reparations should not necessarily be cash. Infrastructural , educational and an economic boost will do.

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    • I am comfortable with the idea of reparations as long as it is not cash, infrastructure yes, not even scholarships, because the people affected most by slavery, the poor blacks will never see one scholarship, or benefit from its programs, only the already rich/mulattos mostly, that will ever benefits. I do not trust our politicians with all that money one bit, they have a long enough history of lack of accountability, tell england keep it... it will trickle down eventually.

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  16. "We have to learn to forget about the word slavery,” -......... IS THIS MAN CRAZY???? One should never forget their history!!!!

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    • Yes. We should never forget. But that does not mean we have to keep living in its shadow for the rest of our lives either. No amount of money, or assistance can ever compensate us for this atrocity... so just move past it and focus on leaving the world a better place before you were born.

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  17. The answer to the idea of reparations will vary depending on whom is asked the question. The whom has to do with color, background and economic standing.

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  18. I totally agree!!!! Let's get of this slavery train. We have come too far to be wrapped up in this foolishness. "Emancipate yourself from mental Slavery"

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    • I think you will find Mr Marley was saying the opposite of your interpretation with the line "Emancipate yourself from mental Slavery". Slavery and it's effects should never be forgotten.

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        • That's right. "OURSELVES". Not past slave masters or mother countries. Everyday people all around us have to start from scratch and build up. Look at how far Japan has come after the World War. Crying over the past doesn't help... pull up your breeches, dig deep and move on.

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  19. "Mitchell said Caribbean people should concentrate on working hard and regardless of their trade or profession; they should always seek to get on top and improve their quality of life."

    Yeah work hard is something he's never done in his life,how are we supposed to get on top & improve if we're being Taxed to death by these same Crooked Governments time & time again? This man is Stupid.If the Queen his slave master would come to him & tell him secretly that they would pay him for his ancestors on the black side,he'd take the money & keep hush....But because other folks want something the idea is stupid.....See how these ppl think? They alone should be on top.GTFOH with your logic.

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  20. Well well well,knew it had to be those of the fairer complexion to say it's "STUPID".The man was knighted by the Queen,what did anyone expect him to say?...The Queen wouldn't mind seeing individuals of colour in Slavery,That lady & her royal family & all those connected to her have never worked a day of serious labour in their entire life so they would always say no to reparations...James is a puppet,put a sir infront their names & they all become puppets....Pay the money you greedy Theives.

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      • Pay the money to who??...You've got a good point,can't give it to the these Theives in government to share to us "common" folks....Wouldn't it be nice if all black (families) in the Caribbean got a lump sum if the queen would auction off all of her GOLD & other stolen items?

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        • Your statement is very shollow at best? For one have you taken a look at how our people waist money, yes you may say the government do just as much. Well my answer to you will be that we should take a page from the Jews and the Native American Indians. utilised that money for the whole. What I mean is better schools, better education, better healthcare, I mean the list is endless.
          secondly I believe the time has come when we should stop calling our selves black. Black is not an identity but rather it is a discription of a colour. I believe the time has come where we should identify our selves by our origin, meaning we are decendants of Africans, therefore we should be called Afro-West Indians and our nationality is Saint Lucians or where ever island you are from.
          You can read my previous blog, unfortununately I forgot to include my name. It is the one where I ask to view a video called Goodbye Uncle Sam

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    • Its a shame your ancestors weren't left back in Africa so we wouldn't have to read the total nonsense coming forth from your small brain....

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      • What makes you think my ancestors are from Africa Chris? Maybe it is you who has the even smaller brain,are you just another puppet working for Government or her Majesty?....You see the thing is with "you people" is you were handed a silver spoon & ran away with it,your ancestors were probably house slaves,they were never in the field.Spread the wealth you greedy pack of wolves.

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