This is what black people have to tolerate... This is what we have to tolerate... pic.twitter.com/db2vv6oD3U— chamonille (@chamonille) October 1, 2015
Personally, I wouldn't be too bothered by any of this. Like so many others of his ilk, David Cameron's operating on a long-standing global narrative. That narrative requires national leaders to pay lip service to the Holocaust and the plight of the people who were forced to endure it, regardless of their actual sincerity. The global narrative says nothing about acknowledging the tremendous damage slavery has done throughout the world, especially when it concerns one of your former colonial holdings.
Right about now, Cameron's probably wondering why couldn't Jamaica be a good little colony and not trouble the Crown with their nonsense. After all, it did its part by putting an end to what some Yanks called the "peculiar institution":
Speaking to the Caribbean country’s parliament, the prime minister struck a defiant note as he spoke of his pride that Britain had played a part in abolishing the “abhorrent” trade, without highlighting its historic involvement in the transfer of slaves from west Africa and ownership of slaves in the Caribbean.
He called for the two countries to “move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future”.
“While there is indeed much to celebrate about our past, it would be wrong to do so while ignoring the most painful aspects of it – a period which should never be forgotten, and from which history has drawn the bitterest of lessons,” Cameron said.
“Slavery was and is abhorrent in all its forms. It has no place whatsoever in any civilised society, and Britain is proud to have eventually led the way in its abolition.
“That the Caribbean has emerged from the long shadow it cast is testament to the resilience and spirit of its people. I acknowledge that these wounds run very deep indeed. But I do hope that, as friends who have gone through so much together since those darkest of times, we can move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future.”
Yours truly has always taken issue with victims being told they should move on and let bygones be bygones. I'd rather let the Jamaican people decide when to let the pain and anguish of slavery and its legacy go. After all, that's something that should be done on their own terms, not when someone else tells them to.
There's a good reason why Cameron and the British government are so eager to push past slavery, whether the Jamaicans are ready to do so or not:
A No 10 spokesman said Cameron told the Jamaican prime minister that the “longstanding position of the United Kingdom is that we do not believe reparations is the right approach”.
Reparations has always been the solid brick wall that stops most attempts at righting both age-old and current wrongs cold in their tracks. While I'm not familiar with the countless losses suffered by the descendants of Jamaica's captive ancestors, I am very much familiar with those suffered by countless black Americans.
The thought of cutting countless checks for past wrongs is something that turns the blood a lot of white Americans a bit chilly. Considering America's zero-sum view of societal spoils, many whites feel that balancing out the scales of justice in the form of reparations would take a sizable sum of the spoils right out of their pockets. In other words, they believe it would personally cost them dearly and further lower their socioeconomic standing. After all, who really wants to see uppity Negros bettering themselves through the spoils that were wrenched out of the hands of hard-working white men and women?
But it's more than that. If the Powers That Be™ were forced to make a concerted effort to recompense those who have suffered most from slavery and all of its aftereffects, including the institutions it created to manage black ambition and extract black wealth, it would likely put the whole idea of America (or Great Britain) as a bastion of liberty and its very principles in question. Such an inward look, let alone an actual acknowledgement or even movement to correct past wrongs, would shake the nation to its core and likely cause a loss of identity and an existential crisis among much of its citizenry. It may even provoke a last-gasp backlash conjured from deep within the very soul of the nation, akin to a demon's final torrent of fury and rage before being finally vanquished once and for all.
For this and other reasons, it's likely that the British people and the Powers That Be™ at 10 Downing Street would rather ignore the monumental debt owed to the Jamaican people and others who've suffered deprivation at the hands of slavery and colonialism and let the gentle erosion of time itself scrub away the debt until it becomes unrecognizable to all. Hence the forgive and forget posture taken by Cameron and countless others.
However, time doesn't heal all wounds. Some wounds tend to fester until they've been properly tended to. Otherwise, the noisome sore becomes the gangrenous tissue that threatens to destroy the patient. So David Cameron and others like him can continue to ignore the issue and hope it goes away on its own, but only to their everlasting peril.