By Clive Bacchus
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- Former governor of St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, historian Sir Probyn Inniss, believes that, while Caribbean people are no longer chained physically, there is still a lot of work to be done before they can claim emancipation.
Former Governor of St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla Sir Probyn Inniss
"Has the black person in the Caribbean begun to see himself differently, as a human being with his own rights and dignity?" he asked, in an invited comment on Friday, the 180th anniversary of the emancipation of slavery in the British Caribbean.
"Has he gotten rid of the stereotypes, which were commonplace during the time of slavery and immediately after slavery, or do they still continue, our attitude towards our facial features, our attitude towards out hair, towards ourselves, our colour? Has that changed? [Because] if you tell me... that that has changed, I will then ask why is it we're spending so much money... on hair, on weaves and all of these things, as if to say in some way we're not entirely satisfied with who we are and how we look? I'm not convinced that we have been progressing along the road to true emancipation of the mind,” Inniss said.
Asked for recommendations for related subjects for public debate, Sir Probyn suggested consideration of the issue of empowerment.
" Not just... the word, but are we truly committed to empowering people, to getting them to a stage where... we respect them as individuals regardless of who they are? We... respect them because they are just as entitled that we are, whatever position we may be in, they are entitled to their individual human rights... I'm not convinced that we're experiencing true empowerment," he said.
"Do we accept that each and every individual is entitled? I'm not convinced. I think so much still depends on the tribe to which you belong. So much depends on your status within the society, so much depends on the... power, be it economic or political power which you wield within the society. So unless our get to the point where we're acknowledging that each and every individual has that inherent right and dignity, and that he or she can develop himself or herself to...the fullest potential, then we have a long way to go,” he added.
August 1 is observed in some parts of the Caribbean as Emancipation Day. In St Kitts and Nevis it is commemorated on August Monday (the first Monday in August).
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network