Report: racism persists in English-speaking Caribbean

Human rights researchers find persistent discrimination against people of African descent

August 17, 2012

QUITO, Ecuador

An Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) report reveals racism linked to skin color, poverty and control of financial resources in English-speaking Caribbean countries.

Unlike Latin American countries with minority populations of African descent ― where it is easier to identify inequities in areas such as education, health, employment and financial status ― in the Caribbean “the indirect discrimination remains a problem, in addition to strong structural paradigms that exacerbate inequality between races.” said Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, the IACHR’s rapporteur on the Rights of People of African Descent.

Antoine, who presented the IACHR “Report on The Situation of People of African Descent” to the heads of government of the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, in early July, said that in the Caribbean countries with populations mainly of African descent, there is less explicit racism but “the problem of race is more complex and more subtle.”

“In more modern times this has manifested itself most prominently in the relations between Indo and African-Caribbean peoples, particularly in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago,” she observed.

The study also showed that in the Caribbean racial discrimination against African descendents is linked to the darkness of skin, poverty and the control of economic resources.

“Financial power is still largely in the hands of white minorities in the region because of business patterns that have shifted little in the centuries,” Antoine said.

In Barbados, she pointed out, “black entrepreneurs have greater difficulty in securing business loans and capital than their white counterparts, which placed them at a disadvantage from the outset.”

CARICOM Secretary General Irwin La Rocque stressed that this report “may be a sober reminder of the deep-rooted problems which remain in the hemisphere.”

“There is a need, therefore, even in the Caribbean, to enquire seriously and objectively into these issues with a view to constructing newer paradigms, based on genuine equality and social advancement for all of our peoples,” he said.

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