MP David Lammy has commented on a new report into Stop and Search by the Stopwatch Coalition which found that black people in England and Wales are now nearly nine times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched for drugs. He described Stop and search as an “ineffectual” practice and an “integral cog in a racially disproportionate” criminal justice system, citing his own memories of being stopped and searched as a 12 year old. “Many years later, the fear and embarrassment of the first time I was stopped and searched for a crime I did not commit remains with me. We must stop stigmatising black men, and search for more intelligent, long-term solutions to the problems that foster criminal activity in the first place.” Read the full article.
In a visit to Bristol this week Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said schools should teach children about colonialism, slavery and the legacy of the British empire, and give greater weight to the “immense contribution” black Britons have made. He also unveiled plans for an Emancipation Educational Trust, which would educate future generations about the impact of slavery and “tell the story of how slavery interrupted a rich African and black history”. Local civil rights activist Paul Stephenson, who played a central role in the Bristol bus boycott in 1963, should be as well known to British schoolchildren as Rosa Parks. Read more here and two opinion pieces here ("Corbyn's right") and here ("Thank you, Jeremy Corbyn – what you said about colonialism was spot on.").
An AQA GCSE sociology textbook that describes Caribbean men as "largely absent" from family situations has been withdrawn by the publisher. The main criticism is that this statement is made without any social or historical context.
Tamu Thomas from ‘Motherhood Reconstructed’ commented: ”I couldn't imagine what it would feel like if you were a black child, sitting in class and reading a statement like that. I do acknowledge that the number of families with absent fathers is higher in the black community, proportionally. But when something is put forward as fact like that without explaining the historical reasons why that might be the case, without any context, that's really dangerous. If we had an educational system that actually studied and analysed the black experience, including the impact of the slave trade and racism in society, it would be different.”
Read the full article on the BBC website.
The University of Glasgow has published a comprehensive report into the institution’s historical links with racial slavery.
The study acknowledges that whilst it played a leading role in the abolitionist movement, the University also received significant financial support from people whose wealth at least in part derived from slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries. Read more here and an opinion piece by Afua Hirsch here. Download the report here. Read about a call for other universities to follow Glasgow's lead
On 18 August 1518 the King of Spain, Charles I, issued a charter authorising the transportation of slaves direct from Africa to the Americas. Previously they had been taken by way of Spain or Portugal.
This quincentenary is of a tragic event that caused untold suffering and still today leaves a legacy of poverty, racism, inequality and elite wealth across four continents. But it also quite literally changed the world and still geopolitically, socially, economically and culturally continues to shape it even today – and yet the anniversary has been almost completely ignored.
“There has been a general failure by most historians and others to fully appreciate the huge significance of August 1518 in the story of the transatlantic slave trade,” Professor David Richardson, University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation.. Read more here.
New research revealed on today's Independent front page has found that black teenage boys guilty of homicide are 62% more likely to get convicted of murder rather than manslaughter, and that they get harsher sentences. Analysis of figures for 2009-17 shows one in four black teenage boys guilty of manslaughter were given maximum jail terms, while white children found guilty of the same crime were sentenced to no more than 10 years, with the majority getting less than four. It argues that “'cumulative' racial discrimination within policing and the judiciary means black young offenders are subjected to harsher punishments and therefore have worse life chances.”
MP David Lammy commented: “As I found in my 2017 review of the criminal justice system, some of the difference in sentencing is the result of a ‘trust deficit’. Many BAME defendants simply still do not believe that the justice system will deliver less punitive treatment if they plead guilty”. Read the full article.
A new Legacy museum has been opened in Montgomery, Alabama by the Equal Justice Initiative. The museum traces the history of enslaved black people in America from the horrors of slavery to the terrors of lynching, the humiliation of Jim Crow and the current crisis of police brutality. Nearby a National Memorial for Peace and Justice, also opened last month, becomes one of the country’s first memorials dedicated to more than 4,000 victims of lynching.
Bryan Stevenson, founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative, said the country cannot heal until it confronts the truth of what happened, especially in the South.
“This landscape is littered with a kind of glorious story about our ‘romantic past’,” said Stevenson, a lawyer who has helped overturn the convictions of more than 125 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row. “You can’t say that if you fully understand the depravity of human slavery, of bondage, of humiliation and rape and torture and lynchings of people.” Read more in this article. Visit the museum website.
The shameful treatment of the 'Windrush Generation' that has come to light in recent weeks has been commented on in this article entitled 'Prejudice and Injustice' by MJR trustee Dr Clifford Hill. In it he comments: "Our mistreatment of people from the Caribbean islands goes back at least 200 years to the days of slavery under British colonial rule. This legacy of slavery has never been finally expunged from our social attitudes and culture." Read the full article here.
MJR welcomes two announcements from the Labour Party that would mark progress in the recognition and addressing the problem of the legacy of slavery.
According to this article in Voice, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn says he wants institutions to “give back” to descendants of slave trade. The donations would fund bursaries for people from British BAME communities which would provide education and training for underrepresented groups in sectors such as finance and banking.
Plans for a new Slavery Education Trust have also been unveiled by the Labour Party which will not only educate people about the horrors of slavery through school programmes and trips to historical landmarks but also highlight the resilience of those enslaved and the contribution to the world made by Africa and the Caribbean.
Read the full article here...
In 1833 when the slavery was finally ended by Britain £20 million was paid as compensation to slave owners by the Government. This was 40% of the total budget for that year and the equivalent of £17 billion today. Until the bail-out of the banks in 2008 it was the largest single payment ever made by a British government. Now the Bristol Post has discovered that this compensation was still being paid off by taxpayers in 2015: revealed by the Treasury under a Freedom of Information request. It means that "anyone who paid any tax at all before February 1, 2015 was paying off the debt created from the millions paid to British slave owners in 1833". The slaves received nothing.
The Treasury then trivialised this fact through a tweet which said: "Here’s today’s surprising #FridayFact. Millions of you helped end the slave trade through your taxes.” Several historians queried the tweet's tone and accuracy (the slave trade actually ended in 1807) and it was quickly deleted. Read the full story here.
The latest information, views and news from MJR.