BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Black History Month is celebrated in February as a time to reflect upon the struggles of enslaved Africans and those who have benefited greatly from their exploitation.
Speaking at the Black History Month Panel Discussion hosted by St. Kitts and Nevis’ Reparations Committee on February 22, Dr. Ahmed Reid, Associate Professor of Caribbean History at the City University of New York, said that today. Britain continues to benefit from slavery.
Dr. Reid referenced a tweet sent out by Her Majesty’s Treasury on February 9, 2018, which revealed that “In February 2015, the British Government completed repaying a £20 million loan that it borrowed to compensate enslavers so that they would agree to the emancipation of the enslaved people in 1834.”
“Positioned as ‘Did you know,’ the tweet claimed that in 1833, Britain used 20 million pounds, 40 percent of its national debt to buy freedom for all slaves in the empire,” said Dr. Reid.
Dr. Reid continued quoting Her Majesty’s Treasury saying that, “The amount of money borrowed for the Slavery-Abolition Act was so large that it wasn’t paid off until 2015, which means that living British citizens helped pay to end the slave trade.
“Apart from its self-congratulatory tone, the tweet is troubling and distasteful on many levels,” said Dr. Reid. “First, there is a shocking revelation that taxpayers in Britain, including hundreds of thousands of Caribbean nationals, whose ancestors were enslaved by the British and whose labour helped to build Britain, helped to pay the interest payments on the loan that paid the socially and politically connected enslavers.
“”The tweet shows the intergenerational link with slavery saying,” he said. “This tweet is evidence of an incontrovertible truth that the descendants of enslavers continue to benefit today from slavery.
“According to a report in the British newspaper, ‘The Guardian,’ most of the bonds are owned by small investors. Of 11,200 holders, 7,700 invested, all less than 1,000 nominal and 92 percent of holders owned less than £10,000 each.”
“Britain and those who invested in slave-abolition bonds continue to benefit today,” concluded Dr. Reid.