Following on from yesterday's Colloquium in Belfast, the new MJR Exhibition is now on display at the city's Titanic Centre and, according to MJR Chair Rev Alton Bell, "causing quite a stir". It is there as part of the ACSONI sponsored GalaNIA Cultural Gala. If you would like to hire the exhibition, there is more information here.
MJR's Alton Bell and Nigel Pocock will be taking part in "Colloquium: 400 years since the start of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade" in Belfast on November 7th. This event is being organised the by African and Caribbean Support Organisation Northern Ireland (ACSONI) and will also feature the new MJR Exhibition on the Legacy of Slavery.
ACSONI is an autonomous community-based organisation formed in 2003 with a proactive approach towards targeting needs and facilitating belonging among individuals from the continent of Africa, the Caribbean (West Indies) and other families in Northern Ireland with these linkages. The November 7 seminar will explore 400 years since the beginning of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, with talks on the epigenetic of slavery and research on the shipwrecked slave ships around Northern Ireland's coast.
The event is at Stranmillis University College, Belfast and runs from 2-6pm. Tickets are free, but places are limited and must be prebooked here. Download a leaflet here.
The University of Bristol has appointed Professor Olivette Otele as its first Professor of the History of Slavery. The appointment comes after a number of universities, including Cambridge, have launched inquiries into how their institutions may have benefited from the slave trade.
Professor Otele will undertake a two-year research project on the involvement of the University of Bristol and the wider city in the slave trade. Her research examines the various legacies of colonial pasts, understanding trauma, recovery and social cohesion, but also amnesia and reluctance to address various aspects of colonial legacies. She has already been working on these complex and sensitive questions for nearly two decades. Otele, who became the UK's first black female history professor at Bath spa University in October 2018, said she wanted the research project to be "a landmark in the way Britain examines, acknowledges and teaches the history of enslavement".
University Provost and deputy vice-chancellor Judith Squires said: "This new role provides us with a unique and important opportunity to interrogate our history, working with staff, students and local communities to explore the university's historical links to slavery and to debate how we should best respond to our past in order to shape our future as an inclusive university community."
Read more here and here and the official Press Release here.
Afua Hirsch has written a powerful opinion piece for the Guardian about the campaign to get a memorial for the victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. It is titled: "Britain was built on the backs of slaves. A memorial is the least they deserve." The group Memorial 2007 have been campaigning for nearly 20 years, the memorial, “Remembering Enslaved Africans and Their Descendants”, has been designed, planning permission to place it in Hyde Park has been obtained, but the government has refused to cover the £4m cost of erecting it. The planning permission expires on November 7.
Hirsch argues that: "the country’s treatment of people descended from this history could not be more shameful. From the institutionalised racism they experienced fighting for Britain in both world wars, to the attempts to deport members of the Windrush generation just last year, they have endured the worst of what Britain has had to offer.
She says that the campaign is not "requesting a favour for a marginal section of society. The history of how we came to be this nation is a history for us all. If we can’t dignify it with a simple memorial, one whose location, design, importance and even planning permission have already been established, then we really have lost the plot."
Read the full article here.
A petition to the UK Government to build a memorial to remember the victims of the slave trade has been launched by the charity Memorial 2007. There is no major memorial in England to commemorate the victims of the Transatlantic Slave trade – millions of people who were transported from Africa in ships and kept as slaves. Many of them built Britain, but were subjected to cruelty and forced into inhumane conditions.
Planning permission has been secured for a space in London’s Hyde Park, but runs out in a few weeks, so the charity is calling on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to fund a memorial. Read about and sign the petition here.
An opinion piece in today's Independent written after the conclusion of the inquest into the death of another of the Windrush scandal migrants yesterday calls the scandal a symptom of our "broken and brutal immigration system". The coroner ruled that the death of Dexter Bristol, a 58-year-old Grenadian man, who came to the UK at eight years old, was due to "natural causes" due to other "stressors" in his life additional to his application to remain in the UK. However, his family said that Bristol died after 18 months of unbearable stress imposed by the Home Office and was so fearful of being targeted by the system that he avoided using NHS services in the two years before his death.
The article states that this is an issue that: "multiple health practitioners have spoken out about, particularly since the roll-out of charges for immigrants. Last year, an Ethiopian asylum seeker was denied chemotherapy when she was found ineligible for free care by the Home Office and NHS. She died at the age of 39 last month." If nothing is done about this 'hostile environment' these tragedies could become more and more common. Read the full article here.
The controversial ruling by the BBC's Complaints Unit that one of its most popular presenters, the BBC Breakfast host Naga Munchetty, had breached editorial guidelines by criticising racist comments made by President Donald Trump about the backgrounds of four US politicians was later reversed after a storm of protest. The blog 'Black and White TV' run by experienced broadcast journalist Marcus Ryder gives a detailed analysis of the original ruling, ending with this intriguing suggestion:
"The BBC, should give Dan Walker and Naga Munchetty their own documentary to investigate racism and what it means to 'go home'! If a brief chat on a studio sofa can generate this much interest, I am sure I am not the only one who would watch a 2-part documentary on it. And if the BBC won’t commission it I worry Channel 4 will instead… Let’s (literally) watch this space…"
Read the full blog here.
Also, read Sir Lenny Henry's comments on the issue during a talk on diversity in TV in another post on 'Black and White TV' here.
Italian Serie A club Roma's response to a racist message sent by a supporter on Instagram sent to one of their players Juan Jesus has been hailed as bold and ground-breaking . First the club publicly named and shamed the perpetrator, reported him to the police and banned him for life – a first. It then Tweeted this message to the league authorities: “Are you really serious about tackling racism in Italian football @SerieA.” The league has been criticised for not responding robustly enough to previous incidents and Roma's challenge has been received positively by many, including Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte. This article calls the Tweet "a pertinent inquiry, applicable way outside Italy's borders."
Former US Vice President Joe Biden delivered a passionate rebuke of the "domestic terrorism of white supremacy," on Sunday morning at the 56th memorial observance of the 1963 bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four African American girls.
"We must acknowledge that there can be no realization of the American dream without grappling with the original sin of slavery, brought to these shores over 400 years ago. And the centuries-long campaign of violence, fear, trauma wrought upon black people in this country."
Biden also acknowledged that white people, no matter their efforts, can never truly understand how racism and hate have affected African Americans throughout the country's history. He also warned that despite all people being equal was one of the truths America held as "self evident" as a nation still "we have not relegated racism and white supremacy to the pages of history." Read more here.
In what is believed to be the first payment of its kind, Glasgow University is to pay £20m in reparations to atone for its historical links to the transatlantic slave trade. In what has described as a “bold, historic” move, it has signed an agreement with the University of the West Indies to fund a joint centre for development research. The University discovered last year it had benefited financially from Scottish slave traders in the 18th and 19th centuries by between £16.7m and £198m in today’s money. Graham Campbell, who became the city’s first councillor of African-Caribbean descent in 2017, welcomed the agreement. “Our mutual recognition of the appalling consequences of that past – an indictment of Scottish inhumanity over centuries towards enslaved Africans – are the justifications that are at the root of the modern-day racism that we fight now. This action is a necessary first step in the fight against institutionalised racism and discrimination in Scotland and the UK and for the international fight for reparative justice.” Read more here and here.
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