The Removal of Lord Horatio Nelson and the Struggle for Black Lives Matter in Barbados

Authors: Zaira Simone*, CUNY - Graduate Center
Topics: Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Black Lives Matter, Caribbean
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 10
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The slaying of George Floyd in the summer of 2020 ignited protests demanding justice for the countless deaths of Black people at the hands of the carceral state, not just across cities in the U.S., but also, in the Caribbean, where Black Lives Matter has been less visible. The weekly rallies organized in Barbados, primarily by pan-africanists who are active in the struggle for reparations for slavery and colonialism, enforced attention, not only to police murders in the U.S., but also to colonial infrastructures that Black Barbadians have lived with, such as the statue of Lord Nelson. As documented in the decommissioning of Nelson in November of 2020 and in particular through the spoken word of Cyndi Celeste (2020), Nelson was a British hero but an enemy of slavery abolitionists.

In this paper I explore how the decommissioning of Lord Nelson’s statue captures how Black Lives Matter is envisioned within a “small place”. I discuss how the removal of Lord Nelson builds on pre-existing claims for repair in the Caribbean and the Barbadian struggle for sovereignty, which I argue are complimentary aims. Reading the artistic performances of the decommissioning and including the prime minister’s speech, I ask how does the removal of Lord Nelson's statue generate more visibility to Black Lives Matter in the Caribbean and beyond? And as Victoria Okoye (2020) asks, how might this challenge the provincializations of our scholarship and in this case the borders that separate the Caribbean from the U.S.

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