Students at Washington DC's Georgetown University voted last week to an increase in their tuition fees to benefit descendants of the 272 enslaved Africans sold nearly two centuries by the Jesuits who ran the school to secure its financial future. The increase of $27.2 (about £20) evokes the number of slaves sold and is an amount 'not too onerous' on the students. The student vote has to be agreed by the university's board. The board agreed in 2016 to give admissions preference to descendants of the 272, and one of the first to be admitted under this policy, Shepard Thomas, said: "“Students here always talk about changing the world after they graduate. Why not change the world when you’re here?” The fund they voted to create would represent the first instance of reparations for slavery by a prominent American organisation. Read more here.
Rapper and activist Akala speaks to Good Morning Britain about knife crime in the UK and says the crimes can't be explained simply by race. Some excellent points made, such as: "Where young black boys over-achieve, is race offered as an explanatory factor? ... It's almost as if, a black person does something negative, the entire so-called black community is to blame. A black person does something positive and they suddenly regain their humanity and their right to be regarded as an individual."
In a move described as "overdue" by its own producer, Iain MacLeod, TV soap opera 'Coronation Street' is to introduce the first black family in its 59-year history. Through the Baileys the show will explore themes of racism and homophobia in sport. Theatre director Matthew Xia commented: “It blows my mind that our longest-running soap, set in the heart of one of our most cosmopolitan cities, has only just introduced the idea of ‘the black family’ to its viewers.”
The 'Standing Together' Rally in London's Trafalgar Square drew around 400 people to pray and call for action on youth violence, especially through knife crime with over 40 offences a day in London in the last 2 years. In particular the call was to churches to respond and act in practical ways, and it was encouraging to see a wide range of church leaders present. MJR founding trustee Rev Les Isaac, CEO of Ascension Trust, was a driving force behind the rally, and challenged those present to make sure it was a catalyst for further action. "Faith without works is dead. We need to go out of our church buildings and serve people". Prayers were led by a number of church leaders and there were moving stories from several families who have suffered loss of a loved one. One mother said: "We need to create safe spaces. Our children are walking around with knives because they are fearful". The causes of knife-crime, which disproportionally affects black young people, expose the race-fuelled injustices in our society: another symptom of the legacy of slavery.
Anthony Brown, a paralegal in Manchester, established the Windrush Crusade last year to provide assistance to Manchester’s Caribbean diaspora caught up in the immigration debacle. The Crusade has now joined forces with UK-wide BME Lawyers 4 Justice in a bid to demand that the government put an immediate halt on deportation flights. They are planning a day of action on June 22. It is hoped that a coordinated plan of action can be devised which will see protests happening in major cities including, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and London. Read more here.
At their recent meeting in January the trustees of MJR decided to defer the Zong voyage for 12 months until the summer of 2020. As part of our larger Zong project, the plan is to sail a C18th square rigger fitted out as a replica slave ship around Britain. Our aim remains to provide the ship as a free resource to support local groups in developing associated activities and long term follow-up projects to build awareness and educate about the legacy of slavery.
The budget for the voyage is £175k and whilst we have raised nearly half of these funds, unfortunately we have not yet secured the full level of funding needed to allow us to confidently proceed with the project this June and July as originally hoped. We are still waiting on a number of funding options and whilst we remain confident full funding will be secured, we are also very conscious that we cannot commit to expenditure of funds we do not have. Therefore, after much prayerful consideration, the trustees have decided to postpone the voyage for one year until the summer of 2020.
Deferring the project will not only allow time to secure the necessary funding, but will also enable a greater level of planning, and concur with the feedback from some ports who felt that 2019 was ‘too soon’.
Meanwhile, our local networking, publicity and funding efforts continue and we would ask for all who read this update to consider how they could help with one or more of these. And, for those who do, please pray for the Zong project.
'Slavery Routes' is a new 4-part documentary which examines the history of enslavement back to the 7th century. It is described as the 1200 year story of "a world whose territories and own frontiers were built by the slave trade", a trade which saw over 20 million Africans deported, sold and enslaved.
The producer's statement says: "When shootings specifically target the black American community, like in Charleston; when the police shoot down an unarmed black man in Ferguson; when nearly 2/3rd of the poor in Brazil are blacks; when the “statues of shame” still adorn numerous French cities… It is time to question the roots of evil and to understand why racism and anti-black discrimination remain so persistent. In June 2015, Barack Obama stated that “The legacy of slavery […] casts a long shadow, and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on. […] It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. […] societies don’t overnight completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”
Slavery Routes' will be shown in different countries on various TV networks. As we hear of upcoming showings we will advertise them on this website. If you hear of a showing, please let MJR know and we will publicise it.
Find out more and watch the trailer here.
This is the title of a recent article in the Independent, following up the Raheem Sterling racial abuse incident. In it Chief Sports Writer Jonathan Liew writes about the casual racism in football, saying every journalist has a "stack" of stories, such as the Premier League manager who once confided his opinion that black players “belong in the trees”.
Liew goes through the joke and banter defences and other difficulties within football culture of exposing these attitudes and identifies a fundamental problem with discussing racism: "a startling number of people don’t really know what it is. Never suffered it, never been affected by it, never really examined it in any great detail. And thus labouring under the first misconception of racism: that it is, essentially, all about incidents." And nothing else. What Sterling has done in his recent social media posts is take "two forms of discrimination – the violent public act and the insidious, unacknowledged bias – and bind them irrevocably together." If football is a power for good, it has a responsibility to face up to the deeper issue. It won't be easy but a "continuous process, a slow and a tough process of education and awareness and sensitivity." Read the full article here.
The alleged racist abuse of footballer Raheem Sterling during a recent match has been in the news this week. Four fans have been suspended pending an investigation. Sterling's comment was: "Regarding what was said at the Chelsea game as you can see by my reaction I just had to laugh because I don’t expect no better.” To further illustrate his low expectations, Sterling posted two pictures showing Daily Mail Online stories about fellow Manchester City players Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden buying new houses. The story about Foden, who is white, has the headline: “Manchester City starlet Phil Foden buys new £2m home for his mum.” The story about Adarabioyo, who is black, has the headline: “Young Manchester City footballer, 20, on £25,000 a week splashes out on mansion on market for £2.25million despite having never started a Premier League match”. Read more here.
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