Tue | Sep 22, 2020

Letter of the Day | The scars of slavery are real

Published:Friday | January 17, 2020 | 12:00 AM


I am writing in response to an op-ed piece ‘Stop blaming the slave trade’ that appeared in The Gleaner on January 11, 2020. Please allow me to enter a position of disagreement.

“I am not a slave, slavery happened a long time ago and we should take personal responsibility and move on”. This is the mantra of so many, and yes, there are those who believe that 400 years of slavery in Jamaica has absolutely no present-day manifestations.

This is all as we continue to use a curriculum written by the same people who enslaved our ancestors, then question why Jamaica has a multitude of social, economic, psychological, and educational challenges borne out of a curriculum that was written to ‘downpress’, enslave, under-educate and promote white European beauty standards.

It is difficult to convince some that they are suffering from the effects of post-slavery trauma courtesy of a nation of people who described themselves as civilised, bringing civilisation to the savage Africans, all with the support of the Christian church. On the slave plantation, our African ancestors suffered direct historic traumas and to survive, they developed Appropriate Adaptation (coping mechanisms), inferiority complex, and scarcity complex.

Today, we suffer from indirect intergenerational trauma from those same mechanisms and complexes our ancestors used to survive. As a current member of the British Commonwealth, Jamaica continues to use the British colonial plantocratic curriculum and commonwealth government system run by people who now look like us to maintain the colonial process of thought on to African people in our present society.

Sadly, the Mental Health Department in the Ministry of Health & Wellness has not acknowledged the effects of post-slavery trauma (PST) behaviour in our society nor its contribution to crime, ineffective communication and poverty.


In order to begin the long process of repair, we must acknowledge PST intergenerational effects, including the following:

1. Landlessness

2. Informal settlements

3. Poor money management skills

4. Lack of business skills

5. Mass poverty

6. No intergenerational wealth

7. Fatherlessness

8. Domestic violence

9. Poor parenting skills

10. Spousal abuse

11. Under-education

12. Poor communication skills

13. Poor conflict resolution skills

14. Poor negotiating skills

15. Violent behaviour

16. Criminal behaviour