COLUMN: Significance of Barbados breaking colonial connection


Destiny Blanchard, Columnist

On Nov. 30, Barbados made history by becoming the newest republic and got rid of Queen Elizabeth as their head of state. This act was one of the few connections the new Republic had to their colonial bonds with Britain. Barbados was under British colonial power for over 300 years until 1966, when Barbados regained its independence.

Now that Queen Elizabeth has been removed as their head of state, Barbados has sworn in their first president, Sandra Mason. Mason was previously the royally appointed governor-general. This event shows how far the nation of Barbados has come from its upsetting history. Like many other predominantly Black nations, the people of Barbados are descendants of enslaved Africans forced to work on sugar plantations established by English colonizers. Members of the Royal British family were investors in the transport of enslaved Africans to the Caribbean. Although this is true, rarely do we see acknowledgment or apologies given by the British monarchy.

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, made an appearance at the ceremony celebrating Barbados as a new Republic. At the ceremony, Charles made this statement: “From the darkest days of our past and the appalling atrocity of slavery which forever stains our history, people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.” While this statement offered acknowledgment of the role Britain played in Barbados’ period of slavery, no offer of regret was given. Barbados will remain a part of the British Commonwealth, an association of 54 states including many former colonies, that has been championed by Queen Elizabeth through her reign.

There are several other countries, many of which are former colonies and have also suffered from slavery, that still have Queen Elizabeth as their head of state. It’s possible that Barbados’ act in becoming a Republic will inspire those countries to take steps towards decolonization. There are several reasons these countries may want this to happen, but much of it is due to generational values to better the livelihood of Black people globally. After the events of 2020 that included the largest displays of support for the Black lives matter movement, there’s a push from the younger black generation to decolonize the nations we live in.

What can really be taken from this is how much the effects of colonization still are hurting many nations today. The legacy behind the British Empire is one that grew out of the exploitation of other people. Much like the U.S., Great Britain has been built from the massacre of many indigenous peoples and from the violent enslavement of millions of African people. As the conversation continues globally about the way the nations we live in got to where they are, more people will follow Barbados’ example to cut their colonial ties.

Destiny Blanchard is a senior management major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]