Landmark Reparations Legislation passed unanimously in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
From: African-Caribbean Reparations and Resettlement Alliance
Last week legislators in the U.S. Virgin Islands unanimously passed a resolution which condemns the institution of slavery and positions the former Danish colony to seek reparations from Denmark.
Sponsored by Senators Celestino White and Usie Richards, the landmark legislation is the first of its kind by a former slave colony in which present day descendants have organized to officially seek redress from a past European colonial power.
History records that from 1671 to 1917, Denmark owned and occupied the islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John, the then Danish West Indies, and for more than 175 years was actively involved in the trade of enslaved Africans.
This new political development comes at a time when a Virgin Islands delegation has recently returned from historic reparations talks with officials in Denmark. Led by Shelley Moorhead, president of the African-Caribbean Reparations and Resettlement Alliance (ACRRA), the 9-member delegation journeyed to Copenhagen in early April spending five days in discussions with Human Rights and Cultural Heritage organizations.
The talks in Denmark have resulted in Memorandum of Understanding which establishes a Joint Virgin Islands / Denmark Task Force on Reparations. The agreement is the first between the Danes and Virgin Islanders which directly acknowledges the inhumanity of 250 years of slavery and colonization.
The effects of the document, however, are much more far-reaching. It is the first accord of its kind between organizations in Europe and the Caribbean officially recognizing that descendants of enslaved Africans "have suffered economic, psychological, social and emotional harm" as a result of the European institution of slavery.
Having introduced a reparations paradigm that not only addresses the process of repair for the descendants of the enslaved, the ACRRA model also seeks the repair of the European mentality which allowed for the dehumanization of Africans and the elevation of one race of people above another.
Bolstered with the strength of a recent legislative resolution, ACRRA and the Virgin Islands Reparations Movement are now introducing to the world new formulas for international repair and reconciliation.