In response to requests for resources to help people think and reflect more deeply on the issues raised in the MJR documentary ‘After the Flood: the church, slavery and reconciliation' we have produced a workbook. This contains six sessions based on the film's themes for group work or individual study, plus an option extra session on Reparatory Justice, an article on the Development of Trans-Atlantic Slavery and a list of further reading and resources.
The workbook was written by Alton Bell and Paul Keeble, with assistance and advice from After the Flood director Sheila Marshall and was sponsored by USPG.
Cost is £5 and it can be ordered 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.
'Racial Justice Champions' is a new resource from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. It is dedicated to the ‘troublemakers’ – those heroic individuals who created the ‘right type of trouble’ in championing racial justice at what was deemed the wrong time for churches and Christian organisations.
"This publication is an opportunity to celebrate the invaluable contributions of these often-unsung individuals who spoke about racial justice when it was unfashionable to do so. In hearing their stories, let us be educated and encouraged, but most of all inspired to do likewise." Richard Reddie, CTBI Director of Justice and Inclusion.
A great resourse for Black History Month. More information and download here.
According to a new report by racial equality think-tank the Runnymede Trust, racism is still "systemic" in England and legislation, institutional practices and customs are harming ethnic minority groups as they still face inequalities across health, the criminal justice system, education, employment, immigration and politics. The authors write that they believe the government’s new approach to equalities will fail to improve these outcomes “and may in fact worsen them”.
The report provides the independent civil society perspective to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) by examining the situation of race and racism in England. Describing the Government's recent Sewell Report as: "divisive and dishonest", the report says government practice "stands in clear breach" of the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). UN's human rights experts had previously criticised the Sewell Report, stating: "In 2021, it is stunning to read a report on race and ethnicity that repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies into conclusory findings and ad hominem attacks on people of African descent."
Read more here and here. Download the Runnymede Trust report here,
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.
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.
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...
A new study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank claims that Government figures for the number of children permanently excluded from school are “the tip of the iceberg”, with five times more children being educated in schools for excluded pupils than official data suggests. The official figure is 6,685 – itself a 40% rise in three years –, but PPR estimate the true hidden figure is closer to 48,000, with boys outnumbering girls by 3 to 1. A report in the Guardian on the study notes that: "Black pupils from Caribbean backgrounds are still significantly overrepresented in pupil referral units, though most pupils (70%) are white British." The correlation to poorer white pupils (as measured by free school meals) is also clear. This research echoes findings shared by MJR at our Proving Legacy event last year. Read the IPPR report here.
A new book 30 Days a Black Man chronicles the month Pulitzer Prize-winning - and white - journalist Ray Sprigle spent living as a black man in the American South in 1948. His experiences were published in two Pittsburgh newspapers in a 21-part series called “I Was a Negro in the South for 30 Days” and caused much shock and reaction, including from Eleanor Roosevelt. The book also reflects on the ethical nuances of doing such a thing and how his own assumptions influenced his writing. This article tells the story and goes into the issues in more detail.
"When James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time was first published in 1963, it sent ripples throughout America as one of the most passionate and raw explorations of race relations of its time. Now, more than 50 years later, the book carries fresh relevance, as the United States and much of the Western world continues to struggle with the issue of racial inequality. Perhaps that’s why publisher Taschen has decided to release a new edition featuring stunning historical images captured by civil rights-era photographer Steve Schapiro." More...
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