The following is an open letter to the Duchess of Cambridge
Help us break the bias that stops our progress.
Today will be the first day of your visit to Jamaica, a country ravaged by the remnants of slavery and colonisation.
While we relish the excellence in our history, namely freedom fighters like Nanny, Paul Bogle, and Sam Sharpe, who refused to surrender their dignity to the vile system of enslavement, we also contend with raw, untreated wounds inflicted by the British Crown on whose behalf you visit.
We were beaten and broken into believing that plantation owners and their cronies — because of wealth and race — had unfettered rights to and dominion over the bodies of black women, so they raped us with impunity.
We were beaten and broken into believing that, “If you are white, you are right, if you're brown stick around, and if you're black get back,” and so you will see the bleached faces of men and women, along the roadways, who think they become more beautiful and worthy with each layer of black skin that is burnt and peeled away.
We were beaten and broken into believing that we were only good enough to plant and reap sugar and so, even today, people who worked on sugar plantations that have earned billions of dollars accept intergenerational poverty and deplorable living conditions as their lot in life.
We were beaten and broken into believing that our purpose as a nation was to cater to yours. That is why our Government neglected the proper cleaning of a hospital until you and your husband were expected to visit. Without remorse, the needs of our citizens for care and quality service were only met as a consequence of trying to impress you.
You will feel welcome here as our institutions and leaders are still willing to actively value you and your husband above its people.
You see, Kate, slavery didn't just start and end, it imprinted a belief system in the minds of a people that 60 years later we have not faced, deconstructed, and destroyed. Your presence here reminds us of the horrors of enslavement and the colonised economy, education, and psychology that remains as part of its legacy.
So how do we begin that process? Black feminist Audre Lorde cautioned us that the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house, but I believe in truth and reconciliation to give those who have harmed us reasonable opportunity to repair the breach and make amends.
It is not too late for you to become an advocate on the side of justice and impress upon your family the need to: * furnish the country with reparations for the stolen labour that built your family's empire so we can build, for ourselves, the institutions that will equip our people with the self-confidence, values, and belief systems that allow us to take up space as our authentic selves and not a contrived version — hopeless, faithless, and eager for a handout.
* furnish the country with reparations for the stolen labour that built your family's empire so we can invest in diverse sectors beyond tourism, wherein we seek the white dollar and white patronage of our white sand beaches, and into a diverse, responsive, and agile economy of the future, one where our people benefit from their labour, not just the foreign investors.
*furnish the country with reparations for the stolen labour that built your family's empire so that we can rebuild our families and restore a healthy legacy to black homes and black communities. Violence as a solution is imprinted on our minds from the centuries of violent oppression our parents endured at the behest of your parents. We are owed plenty, but we do not seek it for frivolity, but for the demolition and deconstruction of the destructive mores and institutions you forced us to believe in and surrender to.
We need to become a republic, that is on us, and we will do it.
As you drive through our country on the newly surfaced roads so that you will have a smooth ride, look beyond what is directly in front of you, look at the living conditions of our Jamaicans, know that garbage has not been collected in most communities because of lack of funding, but collected on your route so you will not see it; know that the hospital got cleaned for you, but most don't have medication.
Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding has stated his intention to sit with you and your husband to discuss reparations. We appeal to you as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, and as a human being to encourage a real conversation, which results in your understanding of the role of your family in our development as a country and the role that justice demands you play in righting those wrongs.
We believe you want to see a world where every human being's life is treated with dignity no matter the colour of his/her skin. But to level the playing field requires more than awareness of the injustice, it requires investment.
It was only in 2015 that the British Government made their last payment to the descendants of plantation owners as compensation for the loss of slaves resulting from Emancipation.
It is now time to make payments to the descendants of the enslaved.
I look forward to you and your husband coming as tourists to visit our beautiful island when it has no queen as its head of State.
If you do the just and humane thing, your next visit will be with a clear conscience!
People's National Party Women's Movement