How Barbados's Reparations Movement Found the International SpotlightBreaking News
tags: slavery, Barbados, British Empire, reparations, Caribbean history
A kerfuffle about whether British actor Benedict Cumberbatch will have to pay reparations to descendants of slaves in Barbados made headlines this week. It's still unclear who exactly may become subject to legal action to atone for atrocities of slavery. But online buzz over famous Brits' ties to slavery, like Cumberbatch's, put wider attention on the fight for reparations in the Caribbean.
Late in December, The Telegraph, a British newspaper, quoted individuals involved in reparations efforts in Barbados. According to the story, those advocates want descendants of past slave owners on the island nation, including Cumberbatch, to pay damages.
It's true that Cumberbatch's family owned a plantation on the island and several slaves hundreds of years ago. But David Comissiong, the deputy chairperson for the Barbados National Task Force on Reparations, clarified this week in an op-ed on Barbados Today that, to date, there has been no official reparations claim leveled against a European family.
Representatives for the actor said he had no comment for this story.
However, the case may be different for British Conservative politician Richard Drax, whose family still owns a plantation and land in Barbados. The Tory politician's case has been forwarded to the Barbados National Task Force on Reparations for further consideration, Comissiong wrote.
A representative for Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley declined to comment, saying the nation's leader will respond to questions on this issue "at the appropriate time."