Slavery isn’t a thing of the past. The descendants of people who profited from it are still profiting, while the descendants of those held in bondage bear the burdens of generational poverty, trauma, and racism. Barbados, where Black slaves worked sugar plantations for centuries, is demanding justice:

Reparations have moved from a fringe idea to a thing everyone is talking about. And this island, long regarded—some would say intentionally misconstrued—as so compliant with the colonial project that it is sometimes called Little Britain, has moved into a regional leadership position.

“Barbados is that country,” says Dorbrene O’Marde, chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparation Support Commission and vice chair of the regional CARICOM Reparations Commission. (CARICOM, or the Caribbean Community, is an intergovernmental organization with 15 member and five affiliated states.) CARICOM’s Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Reparations for Native Genocide and Slavery, five elected officials led by Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley, is expected this year to request that 10 European countries begin negotiations for reparations. Almost a decade ago, CARICOM’s Reparations Commission developed a 10-point plan calling for, among other things, a careful accounting of what occurred; formal apologies; attention to the psychological and cultural toll of centuries of oppression; European funding to strengthen infrastructure, education, and health care; and debt forgiveness. European countries rebuffed this request, but an updated 10-point plan will be finalized in the next few months, O’Marde says.

This year’s demand for reparations—which will call for a Marshall Plan–like public investment, not the individual payments that have dominated the conversation elsewhere—will arrive with more force. African countries, about two decades after they were first asked, have agreed to support the claim, and CARICOM officials have built alliances with reparations activists in the U.S. The letters are expected to say the time has come to negotiate reparations to improve infrastructure and human conditions in the Caribbean. Come to the table, they will say, or prepare to see much of the Caribbean in international court. Lawyers who won a reported £14 million ($17.86 million) settlement in 2012 on behalf of three Kenyans brutalized by the British have been retained.