Jamaica’s High Commissioner has called for an ‘open discussion’ on Britain’s role in the slave trade. He said Commonwealth countries ‘needs to address the elephant in the room’.
Seth George Ramocan said that while today’s generation is not responsible for ‘dehumanizing’ people through the slave trade, the same mindset ‘still exists in a more subtle form’.
“This really should be a matter of open discussion and acknowledgment of what the wrongs were, particularly through the slave trade and how we come to a common understanding about this,” he said on Today.
Ramocan joins Prince Harry and Megan Markle who faced criticism for saying the history of the Commonwealth ‘must be acknowledged’, even if it’s ‘uncomfortable’.
The Commonwealth of Nations is a political association of 54 member states. Nearly all are former territories of the British Empire.
Prince spoke via video call with young leaders from the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust last week.
As part of the discussion on ‘justice and equal rights’, Harry said the Commonwealth needs to follow others who have ‘acknowledged the past’ and are ‘trying to right their wrongs’.
Harry also admitted to having his own ‘unconscious bias’.
New Generation. New Rules
The British are one of the biggest colonizers the world have ever known. Harry’s grandmother is the Queen and head of the Commonwealth.
‘When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past, said Harry.
“So many people have done such an incredible job of acknowledging the past and trying to right those wrongs, but I think we all acknowledge there is so much more still to do.”
Ramocan responded to Prince Harry’s courage with support and an edict for reconciliation.
“I believe what the Duke and Duchess are saying is that there is an elephant in the room and we all need to address it because if we want to move forward… we will just have this stumbling block in the way.
“To move on we need just what Prince Harry is saying – we need to move on but we can’t move on without understanding. For that reason there needs to be a discussion because much of the ills of the past perpetuate today.
“What really was the mindset that drove slavery was the mindset of dehumanization. We saw one people as being so much less than the other that they became chattle. That mindset still exists in a more subtle form of course, but certainly it impacts the relationship. I think that discussion has to take place.”
Making The Case For Caribbean Reparations
Ramocan steered the conversation towards the real elephant in the room, reparations.
“I think we all have to understand that the generation we are dealing with now is not the generation that did these things. But we are living in a time where we all believe in openness, so that openness will lead to discussions regarding reparations, how we can correct the wrongs.”
Britain has a long and complicated slaveholding history.
Many Britons have mixed views, with some supporting the Commonwealth and noting its differences from the British Empire.
However, many detest both.
The UK is one of the member states in the Commonwealth of Nations, as are Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
Other member states include India, Pakistan, Singapore, Barbados, Namibia and Papua New Guinea and others from across Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
Association in the Commonwealth of Nations, which is based at Marlborough House on Pall Mall in central London, is voluntary.
The Queen heads the organization, with her son and Harry’s father Prince Charles set to take over in the future.