The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Globalizing the Reparations Question

by Michelle Chen

This sidebar is associated with a full-length news article, Bill to Study Slavery Reparations Still Facing Resistance.

Some reparations activists want to broaden the reparations debate beyond US borders, arguing that since slavery was a global phenomenon, restitution for its atrocities must reach wherever African descendants have been dispersed. Black-American organizations like the TransAfrica Forum have called for reparations policies that engage European, Latin American and African countries linked by colonialism and the slave trade.

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Alongside the US movement, reparations campaigns have emerged in Nigeria, Jamaica, and other countries affected by slavery. Recently, amid public calls for an official apology, British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a statement of remorse over the country’s role in the transatlantic slave trade.

Last May, the International Global Pan-Afrikan Reparations and Repatriation Conference brought together groups from the United States, the Caribbean, Britain and Ghana in Accra, Ghana, to jointly demand reparations for the entire African Diaspora. The conference’s agenda included calls for compensatory payments to countries that have been plundered by colonialism, as well as a repatriation movement to enable descendants of slaves to return to ancestral lands.

B. Kwaku Duren, chair of the New Panther Vanguard Movement, a US-based grassroots activist group that co-sponsored the conference, said underlying the call for reparations is a need "to deal with the inequality of the distribution of wealth in world."

Duren said the historical exploitation of Africans under both the slave trade and colonialism is manifested today in the gap between the "Third World" and Western industrial nations. "It’s not about payments from individual white people," he said, but rather, "a rethinking by white people of why the world is in the state that it is in. And why, for example, Africa continues to be the poorest of the poor... It's a societal responsibility."

The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

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Michelle Chen is a staff journalist.

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