I cannot express how proud I am to have our BAME Officer, Andrea Gilbert as a member of our union. She does so much for her community and for us in the IWW – one such thing Andrea is good at is writing prolifically, raising awareness and drawing attention to various campaigns that might otherwise slip through our vast net. One such campaign I know we are both passionate about is the movement to pay reparations for the Transatlantic slave trade and I would like to strongly encourage you all to actively get behind and endorse her outstanding statement on reparations.
Exploitation, sexism, and racism are the beating heart and lifeblood of capitalism and Andrea has done an amazing job of highlighting some active measures we can do to acknowledge the harm the Transatlantic slave trade has done to FWs across the world, and the implicit prejudices many of us will still have that determine how we treat BAME FWs. It remains, and will always remain, a moral stain on the conscience of those countries and corporations who have benefited, and continue to benefit from the vast material wealth and advantage gained through this repellent system. Our treatment, at an institutional level, of BAME people in the UK (and, indeed, everywhere) contributes to this stain and deepens its colour – we are no exception in the IWW.
Refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of calls for reparations is to refuse to acknowledge the harm done. Reparations are not an apology, nor are they a means to eradicate and compensate for the harm caused. They are simply an acknowledgement that a terrible harm was committed and the means adopted to extract wealth from colonised and conquered countries were horrific, inhumane, de-personing and abhorrent.
As an explicitly anti-racist organisation, I urge you all to read Andrea’s statement and share it as widely as possible. Reparations are not an answer – they are the opening of a conversation.