Read more here.
A statue of slave trader Edward Colston that was torn down by Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol last June has been put on public display as the centrepiece of a temporary exhibition at the city's M Shed museum. Visitors will also be asked to share their views on what should happen to the statue afterwards. Options include removing the statue from public view entirely, it being part of a museum or exhibition about Bristol's role in the transatlantic slave trade, or replacing the statue back on its plinth.
Read more here.
On the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, some thoughts from our advisor Joe Aldred.
The killing of #GeorgeFloyd a year ago has etched itself into our memories. Sadly one of millions over many years. Change comes when the oppressed finds the God given strength to throw off their oppressors - metaphorically, literally, socially, spiritually, economically and politically. The powerful never tires of their power and never gives it up! So, don’t wait. The most important change to the debate is this: ‘Let the weak say I am strong’.
"From Compliance to Disruption: practical racial awareness for church leaders" is an online session on May 25, 4-6pm – the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd – designed to get to the heart of issues of racial diversity and equality in our churches. Leaders are busy people with many calls on their time and energy and issues to handle, but this one cuts across them all and must not recede into the pile with all the others. Again with that busy-ness in mind, this is intended to be a 2-hour plain-speaking and practical session with experienced teachers David Shosanya and Mike Royal. More info and booking here. Any queries, please send an email.
Recently on BBC's Antiques Roadshow, this gentleman, getting some silver sugar containers and tools valued, told the viewing public about how Wilberforce’s campaign to abolish slavery “immediately” in 1791 was delayed by Henry Dundas’s decision to do it “gradually”, so setting back abolition for 15 years.
“We’ve calculated that about 630,000 Africans were transported into slavery on the basis of one word: gradual. While slaves were working and dying, people in Britain were consuming the sugar – in those bowls and with those tongs. And to me, those silver bowls tell us the sort of things we do in order to make money and to have a lifestyle that we think we deserve.”
The valuer’s response: “Hugely poignant. I have to say I’ve never really stopped to consider that link with the slave trade and it is deeply moving. I don’t think I can look at silver sugar basins in the same way again.”
Well done sir!
The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report continues to gather controversy. New research this week from the Resolution Foundation, and new work from the London School of Economics contradict the report's optimistic picture of a closing gap in employment and pay between the various ethnic groups in the UK, leading the Independent's Ben Chu to ask: "Is the jobs market racist?"
Unemployment rates have been consistently more than double for black/African/Caribbean people in the last 20 years. The most recent figures which reflect the Covid pandemic show a spike to 14% for black people versus 4.5% for white people. Office for National Statistics (ONS) data also suggests that the unemployment rate of black people aged 16-24 has almost doubled from 24% in 2019 to 42% at the end of last year. For white people aged 16-24 the rate has increased from 10% to only 12.5%. Chu comments: "There’s really no room for doubt that black people suffered from higher unemployment rates than white people in the years before the crisis and that they were also hit much harder during the pandemic, especially the young."
Similar disparities over pay are shown in the LSE research, which states: “It is clear there is no evidence for pay gaps being smaller for ethnic minorities now than they were 25 years ago, contrary to the impression given by the Sewell Report”. Chu concludes: "...when it comes to its analysis of the UK labour market, the unsubstantiated claims and apparent data cherry-picking of the CRED report have fatally undermined the credibility of its conclusions".
Read Chu's full article here. Download the Resolution Foundation report "Uneven Steps". Download the LSE report.
The Report released by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities on March 31 has generated a huge response, a lot of it critical, and some of it, regrettably, personal. We in MJR note the wide breadth of sources of this criticism and the justifiable grounds from which they speak. However, we share the calls in this statement from the National Church Leaders Forum – A Black Christian Voice (NCLF) for "real engagement with elements of the report that could be impactful", and for "all participants in public discourse to adopt a respectful and constructive approach in the exchange of views".
The statement also says: "While significant progress has been made in our multicultural society, much more needs to be done before the U.K. can justly regard ourselves as a beacon of racial justice in the world." It goes on to welcome several of the report's recommendations, encourage further work in areas that align with those of previous reports, and strongly urge that "this and future reports undergo a process of peer review (to avoid further division)".
Read the full NCLF statement here. Read the Commission's full Report here.
'Dismantling Whiteness' is an online day conference where various speakers will explore the theme of Deconstructing Whiteness as a response to the Black Lives Matter Movement. Hosted by the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture and the first of its kind, the conference is seen as beginning the vital work of examining the implications of White Studies for Theology.
The conference is on Saturday April 17, 10am to 4pm. It free, but spaces are limited and must be pre-booked. Book online here.
"Whiteness is a claim to power, it’s a claim to rightness, it’s a racialised claim and there is no such thing as being white and being a Christian, you have to resist that identity." (A.D.A. France-Williams, 2020)
"White English Christianity must commit to a radical and ruthless critique of its Whiteness". (A. Reddie, 2020)
A report from the police watchdog HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMICFRS) has said that the police “still cannot explain” why officers use force and stop and search powers disproportionately against black, Asian and other people from ethnic minority groups.
In the year to March 2020, ethnic minorities were more than four times as likely to be stopped and searched as white people in England and Wales – with the figure almost nine times higher for black people specifically. Black people were also over five and a half times more likely to have force used on them than white people, and the use of Tasers has been rising. The watchdog claims to have been concerned with this issue for years, and the death of George Floyd and resulting Black Lives Matter protests in the UK had highlighted it further.
The report calls for an evidence based national debate on the much-debated effectiveness of the use of stop and search on people suspected of possessing drugs and that while racial disparities do not necessarily mean police are racist or misusing their powers, forces should be able to explain the figures. “Over 35 years on from the introduction of stop and search legislation, no force fully understands the impact of the use of these powers. Disproportionality persists and no force can satisfactorily explain why.”
HM Inspector of Constabulary, Wendy Williams said the unfair use of police powers made people less willing to give cooperation.“Police forces must analyse their data and either explain, with evidence, the reasons for disproportionality, or take clear action to address it. The police must be able to show the public that their use of these powers is fair, lawful and appropriate, or they risk losing the trust of the communities they serve.”
The report made eight recommendations, including the recording of all stop and search encounters on body-worn cameras, improved data collection practices, regular reviews of the power and greater external scrutiny.
Read more here. Read the report here.
Manchester City Council has announced a public consultation on who should be remembered in public spaces as part of a review of statues, monuments and memorials in the city. The council says it is not looking to ‘eradicate’ some of Manchester’s past but to instead understand its ‘history, heritage, and the context around it’. Mancunian's views will be sought on the appropriateness of existing pieces of art. This will also shape policy on artworks that will be commissioned and displayed in the future.
A review of every statue in Manchester was announced days after Black Lives Matter protestors marched through cities across the UK last year. Approval has already been given for a statue of Len Johnson, a black boxer from Clayton who was denied championship bouts because of the colour of his skin.
The consultation is being supported by charity Manchester Histories. Read more here. See the consultation here.
A 157-page audit by Historic England, the public body responsible for preserving buildings and monuments, has identified hundreds of sites around Britain with links to the slave trade, including schools, farms, pubs and gravestones. The list includes halls, churches and entire villages have been linked to the “transatlantic slavery economy”.
The research “identified the tangible presence of England’s slavery past in buildings, houses, streets, industrial heritage, urban fabrics and rural landscapes”. The report states: "The transatlantic slavery economy was invested in the built environment of the local area in housing, civic society organisations, churches, village halls, farms, shooting lodges, hotels." As an example, Nunnington in North Yorkshire has been included because a slaver built a school and houses there.
Completed last summer, just after the toppling of statue of Edward Colston, the report is more comprehensive than the National Trust review limited to stately homes, but still does not address all "tombs, monuments and memorials of individuals and families made wealthy from associations with the Atlantic slave economy"
Historic England said the audit would “identify significant gaps in knowledge that can be targeted ... to produce a more complete picture of the impact of Atlantic slavery on the built environment in England”
Conservative MP Nigel Mills has accused the report of being a "Waste of time", claiming: “What happened hundreds of years ago was wrong. But we don’t need to constantly berate ourselves for it.”
Read more here and here. Download the report here.
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