(Barbados Today) – Successive Barbadian Governments including the current administration are being charged with turning a blind eye to “institutionalized racism” and “colonial laws”, which continue to destroy the lives of citizens in working class and Rastafarian communities.
Spokesperson for the Council for the Advancement of Rastafari (ICAR) Adonijah declared that as Barbadians prepare to march against racism and police brutality for the second straight week, they ought to focus more heavily on the inequities perpetuated against black people by “black governments”, who refuse to address issues like marijuana legislation and the continued abuse of vendors – many of whom also practice Rastafari.
“They are saying ‘no justice, no peace’, but black people in Barbados have not been receiving justice for years. The irony however is that we have a black Government. My contention is that since independence, our leaders put on the same coat, and they are doing the same things. There are so many areas where black people should have progressed, but did not, because they maintained these colonial laws,” Adonijah told Barbados TODAY.
“When they talk about black lives matter and black people’s rights, they don’t seem to understand that African people have a tradition of spiritual and herbal practices, which is a part of our culture from Africa. Still, we find ridiculous laws that make criminals out of people who are just trying to follow their African traditions. Those are the types of laws that need to be examined. The black lives matter thing exists not only on the level of George Floyd, but it exists on the level of black poor people who are seeing their rights denied at every turn,” he added.
ICAR has been in discussions with the Mia Mottley-administration for almost two years about a framework for the cultivation and use of medicinal and sacramental marijuana. Efforts to address the racist laws have however been described as a “sham” by the spokesman.
Under the Sacramental Cannabis Bill, Rastafarians are only allowed to use marijuana within the confines of their places of worship, while the use of recreational marijuana is to be decided via a referendum.
As recently as six weeks ago, Adonijah revealed that a letter on the matter sent from ICAR to the Prime Minister has not even been acknowledged.
“When they tabled the Medicinal Cannabis Bill, we saw it the night before it was tabled in Parliament, and when it came to the Sacramental Bill, ICAR never saw it at all and we are supposed to be stakeholders in the discussion. So tell me, who is really fooling whom. It is a sham,” the religious leader said.
“You won 30 seats. Governments are supposed to lead and instead of leading, they are sitting back saying we should have a referendum and the ridiculous thing about it is that the CARICOM Commission on Marijuana specifically said there should be no referendum. But Barbados chose, despite that, to institute a referendum and the most interesting thing is that our Prime Minister is now the chairperson of CARICOM. These are people’s lives that we are playing with,” Adonijah warned.
In the meantime, he complained that the lives of many young people are being destroyed and their futures severely compromised because of criminal records resulting from having small quantities of marijuana. He argued that while the police has become the target of criticism in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the Royal Barbados Police Force is enabled by a legal system that continues to oppress.
“Those people that think carefully will understand whom the police were historically put there to protect and who they were there to serve.
Some people have been profiting from the inequities in the system and it seems as if they don’t want to change that at all because they are comfortable. But I can’t be comfortable knowing that black families every day are being destroyed for a stupid old colonial law that was established because white people said that when black people use cannabis, they lust after women. I say black families, because you never see white people in court for cannabis,” he said.