The MJR documentary ‘After the Flood: the church, slavery and reconciliation' has been shortlisted for a Sanderson Award. These are the UK’s most prestigious broadcast awards for radio, TV and online programmes and content that explore religious, spiritual or ethical themes. 'After the Flood' has been shortlisted for the TV/Video award – see the list here. Winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony in Manchester’s Whitworth Hall on 21 June.
A new exhibition in the library at Lambeth Palace includes artefacts such as a “slave bible” with passages relating to freedom and escape removed and documents revealing the Church of England’s involvement in a fund linked to transatlantic chattel slavery It is the latest step in a wide-ranging programme of work launched in 2019 that aims to “address past wrongs” by researching the church’s historical links to the slave trade.
The Queen Anne’s Bounty fund, set up on 1704 to tackle poverty among clergymen, made significant investments in the South Sea Company, which the church knew was involved in purchasing and transporting enslaved people as its main commercial activity between 1714 and 1739. This fund has grown into the £9bn managed by the Church Commissioners out of which a new fund of £100m was set up last month to support projects “focused on improving opportunities for communities adversely impacted by historic slavery”.
The exhibition also features early abolitionist views, which was intended to showcase the “spectrum of opinion about the slave trade”. However, Prof Robert Beckford said: “The focus on abolition is an obfuscation of the horror of the slave trade and a willingness to collude with the sub-humanisation of black people. What it means ultimately is there is no recognition of how the church’s theological ideas made slavery possible.” He mentions as an example the omission from the exhibition of the Codrington plantation in Barbados, which in 1710 was bequeathed to and subsequently run by the Anglican church’s missionary arm, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG). It was known for its brutality, with enslaved people branded with hot irons bearing the SPG’s logo.
Read more here.
The Codrington Estate is featured in MJR's film ‘After the Flood: the church, slavery and reconciliation'.
A new NHS report is set to reveal that a third of Black and ethnic minority health staff have suffered racism or bullying as the NHS fails to address “systemic” levels of discrimination. Levels have not improved in the last five years at almost 30%, compared to 20% of white staff. The report will also reveal that despite being one-quarter of the workforce, minority ethnic staff make up just 10% of the most senior positions.
Equality for Black Nurses has launched 200 cases of alleged racism against a number of NHS trusts since it was set up by Neomi Bennett in 2020. Ms Bennett said: “The bullying of Black nurses has reached pandemic levels and goes unchallenged. However, there is a clear difference in experiences when comparing Black nurses’ difficulties to white nurses.”
This year's NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard report will show that the number of minority staff in the NHS has increased by 100,000 since 2018 – largely driven by increased international and overseas recruitment. But just two-fifths of staff reporting that their hospital provides equal opportunities. Internal NHS survey figures show that race was the most commonly reported type of discrimination across all staff, with female workers of colour experiencing the highest level of discrimination in 2022. Other causes of discrimination, however, have reduced since 2016.
Read more here.
Following up our recent post on the Church of England's new fund to address the legacy of slavery, Bishop Mike Royal, General Secretary, Churches Together in England, and MJR advisor has written this article for Premier Christianity magazine. His verdict is that "£100m is a drop in the ocean in terms of righting the wrongs of the slave trade", but "it does attempt to direct compensation in the right direction".
Mike also refers to contributions about the slave trade by historian David Olusoga, journalist Afua Hirsch and academic Prof Kehinde Andrews in the recent Harry and Meghan Netflix documentary. This important content has been lost in the subsequent media attention on other issues. Hirsch tells viewers that: “the first ever commercial slave voyage conducted by Britain was personally financed by Queen Elizabeth I. It continued to be financed by kings and queens right up until its abolition”. Olusoga reflects on what he was taught about the slave trade at school, “the only aspect…that was ever talked about was the abolition of slavery.” This is a “very selective slice of the history”, he says, and misses out “a critical aspect.” Slavery wasn’t just abolished, the slave owners “were compensated enormously. £20 million for their human property!”.
Read the full article here.
The Church of England has committed £100m to a new fund to compensate for its historical benefit from the international slave trade. The money will be used to support projects “focused on improving opportunities for communities adversely impacted by historic slavery” and deliver a programme of investment, research and engagement over the next nine years.
The fund has been set up as a result of a report for the Church Commissioners, the body that manages the C of E’s £9bn-plus endowment fund. The origins of this fund have been traced partly partly to Queen Anne’s Bounty, a financial scheme established in 1704 based on transatlantic chattel slavery. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the report “lays bare the links of the Church Commissioners’ predecessor fund with transatlantic chattel slavery. I am deeply sorry for these links. It is now time to take action to address our shameful past.”
Read more here. Read the Church Commissioners Report here.
Nadine White, Race Correspondent for The Independent has written this reflection on another Black History Month and concluded: "Racial equality in Britain is as distant a dream as ever".
Despite the high profile political appointments of people of colour, the heightened awareness of racial injustice since the murder of George Floyd in 2020 has not been harnessed. Instead "From the widening ethnicity pay gap between Black and white workers to the “violent” deaths of Black people in prisons, the struggle is real. From the absence of Black history on school curriculums to the majority of Black Britons reporting experiences of racial discrimination by doctors and nurses, there’s yet more work to be done."
She quotes just released statistics that reveal that Black British people are still disproportionately affected in terms of detention and treatment compared to white people. The optimism of 2020 has largely gone as the government presses ahead with plans "to send thousands of Black, Asian and Middle Eastern refugees to Rwanda, describing them as 'illegal' migrants because they arrive by boat. Meanwhile, ministers have rightly opened our doors to tens of thousands of mostly white Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s bloody war."
The government’s Hate Crime Action Plan launched in 2016 appears to have ground to a halt and there hasn’t been a word from ministers about the worrying surge in these incidents in the last year.
Read the full article here.
October 28 was the annual Thomas Clarkson Day at Manchester Cathedral, hosted by Dean Rogers Govender. which this year featured a screening of MJR documentary ‘After the Flood: the church, slavery and reconciliation'. The screening was followed by a panel discussion chaired by MJR trustee Paul Keeble. Panelists were After the Flood director Sheila Marshall, Dr. Andrew Boayke, Lecturer in Religions and Theology, University of Manchester and Rev Ian Rutherford, minister of Methodist Central Hall. A lively Q&A included discussion on 'power footprints', reparations, comparisons with the legacy of oppression of working class 'white wage slaves' and how to move from words to actions.
One of the attendees Elinor Chohan MBE DL said: "An important and thought provoking event marking #ClarksonDay. I recommend you watch After The Flood documentary on UK churches, slavery and racial equality."
Find out more about Thomas Clarkson here.
On October 31, to mark Black History Month, international charity Christian Aid will be showing MJR documentary ‘After the Flood: the church, slavery and reconciliation' to all of its staff worldwide. Christian Aid UK Climate Justice Church Programme Manager for Black Majority Churches and MJR trustee Sarah-Jane Nii-Adjei said: "Christian Aid has a global ecumenical platform and will be raising the profile of this film to staff from the UK (including colleagues from Ireland, Scotland and Wales) and countries we work in. Different teams can then contact MJR if they would like to licence the film for training and development purposes." The internal event will include a panel discussion with Rev Alton Bell, Chair of MJR and Prof Robert Beckford sharing more about the film.
MJR documentary After the Flood was screened recently at Bristol Cathedral.
Visitor Experience and Events Officer Jess Cainey writes:
"We expanded the event with a conversation with two members of our Clergy where we did a Q&A regarding the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Church. The documentary was a moving conversation starter that emboldened the attendees to ask difficult questions and explore a variety of challenges the Cathedral need to confront on its journey to address its legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
It was beautifully shot and extremely well received.
Thankyou again to MJR for its kindness in letting the Cathedral show After the Flood."
Shades of Black book launch
Shades of Black: The Origins of Colour Consciousness in the Caribbean is an important new book looking at how colour consciousness in the Caribbean has affected immigrants, and issues of race, in Britain. It is written by former MJR trustees Clifford Hill and Nigel Pocock and current MJR Chair Alton Bell. We have been sent these details of a launch event online.
Should there be positive discrimination in the public sector?
As we mark Black History Month, we would be delighted to invite you to an important discussion as part of the launch of Shades of Black, a new book exposing the roots of colour consciousness and racial discrimination with a view to exploring the question ‘Should there be positive discrimination in the public sector to encourage anti-discrimination?’
Aimed at creating conversation across the UK on this important area, you are invited to join us on Thursday 27th October 2022 between 12.30pm and 2.00pm. A meeting in the House of Commons will follow on November 24.
This meeting will be introduced by Sir Stephen Timms MP with contributions from Dr Clifford Hill, Pastor Alton Bell and others.
To join us online, please register here. To attend or for further information, please register or contact Adam May by email or phone 07736 949 869.
Please share this invitation to anyone you believe would benefit from this discussion.
Find out more about Shades of Black here.
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