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Archive for January, 2008

Have been away otherwise would have commented sooner on the £250,000 FOR SLAVERY COMMISSION story!

This is just a quickie response.  More substantial ones to follow.

DISCLAIMER: SOME READERS MAY GET ANGRY ABOUT WHAT YOUR ARE ABOUT TO READ.  THERE ARE TWO PEOPLE WHO WRITE THIS BLOG SO IF YOU KNOW US, PLEASE AIM YOUR ANGER AT THE RIGHT PERSON.  JUST SO YOU KNOW, I’M ME, NOT THE OTHER ONE!

As we’ve said in one of the first posts on the blog (see here), and more recently here – slavery fatigue set in at the end of 2007 and the debate needs to be taken much further than that.  The awareness needs to go further than slavery.  The education needs to be taken wider, beyond and before slavery history.

I don’t mind admitting that I was shocked at the news as I cynically thought, like most other people, that as soon as 2008 arrives any mention of slavery would be buried and tossed aside like a dead mouse.  So I’m pleased it’s still on the agenda, but ultra cynical about what they have planned.  As much as I love the arts, (some of my best friends are artists!!),  there needs to be something more substantial than a temporary exhibition about slavery or a theatre play or art exhibition.

Why not invest the money in inner city schools or community centres or build a permanant monument or…I don’t know.  (Empty of ideas at this late hour!)  But hot on the heels of this abolition money is news of the £80,000 for the Muslim census.  Non-liberal white working class Bristolians won’t be happy and a certain party (I won’t mention their name!) will be only too happy to exploit these events for their own sordid aims.  They say you can’t please all the people all of the time.  Well the council can’t please many people much of the time! 

Then in the same breath we hear news that the Old Vic is in trouble, and Kuumba is shakey, and our schools have just dropped 4 more places down the league tables due to crappy GCSE results.     

None of these things can be fixed simply by throwing money at it, but the council doesn’t seem to know what to do with it’s money to the point where we are all confused about what we want and where the prioritise are.

In the sober light of day I say the priority has to be sorting out the education problem, for all Bristol’s children regardless of ethnicity.  Raise the level of education and take the children up a level with you.  Easier said than done obviously.  (But as I saw on ITV West tonight, some bloke who was the first to swim the English Channel has a statue up somewhere along the Severn, with the words inscribed, “Nothing that is great is easy.”)

What to do with that £250,000?  I think it’s great that after so long the city is facing up to its past, but we who have been campaigning for this for so long also need to know when to move on.  (Easier said than done I know for the down-trodden folk in the gutter of society, but we have to help him/her move on, and not to encourage them to wally in the gutter of self-worthlesses that is also called mental slavery!)

Obviously more people need to be educated on the history of slavery, but that education can’t be done by investing short term in loads more theatre shows and poetry readings.  I would also say all the emphasis shouldn’t be in heavy handed slavery education in schools because it can have a reverse effect on the self-image of the black child if not handled sensitively.   Yes it needs to be taught in schools for everyone to hear about, but personally I would rather teach it at home to my children.

So, what to do with that £250,000? 

Other than setting up a research centre which investigates & address all the city’s educational and cultural problems, I would say to stick it in a high interest account, and don’t be too quick to spend it all at once. 

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Census in Bristol of city’s Muslims

Is it April 1st?

News is spreading of a mini-census to take place in Bristol that hopes to capture details every Muslim that lives within these fair gates.

If I was one of Bristol’s Muslims reading this news today I’d be stocking up on all the tinned food possible and living in my wardrobe for the next year until the witch-hunt, sorry I mean census is over. 

If you are Salaam loving Muslim and you get asked to sign anything, make sure there is no small logo at the bottom that says CIA, or MI5 or MI6 or Mosad or Special Branch or any other “terrorist” busting organisation we hear about these days on Newsround on CITV. 

“Just because you say I’m paranoid…….” etc, etc. 

 Read full Evening Post article

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Going ever so slightly ‘off-message’, this post has nothing whatsoever to do with race, culture, politics or education.

I was seduced by a fascinating and quite frankly bonkers statistic and just had to share it.  But rather than just give you the naked statistic, I’ll give you the whole sentence.

“The amount of chewing gum being spat on to Bristol’s streets has fallen by 59 per cent in the past year.”  (For full article in Evening Post click here.)  

The facts of this story leave me giddy.

– Bristol has been “congratulated” on this achievement.

– Bristol came 4th on a league table which measures such achievements.

– Bristol lost out to Oxford, Blackpool and Colchester. (86%, 85% and 60% reductions respectively).

– Bristol has a number of chewing gum “hot spots”.

The magic just goes on and on and on.

Now like any sensible person I think clearing up litter of any description is a good thing, and chewing gum is obviously a pain in the backside.  I’ve no idea how they even begin to measure such an activity as the ratio of people who spit out gum.

Maybe the ‘Chewing Gum Action Group’ (which is a real group by the way!) – who are obviously a highly committed, intelligent and capable bunch of boffins and activists – should be put in charge of the city’s schools. 

If not actually running the schools, at least draft them in to evaluate where the root of where our education problem lies, and come up with a heady statistic and a probability of how the problem can be solved.  Let’s be fair, what harm could it do??

I await seeing the results of the new regime with interest.

(I’m pleased with how I’ve managed to shoe-horn in education eventually!) 

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Some gum in a Bristol playground getting stuck to the bottom of a child’s school shoes, yesterday.

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Sorry Mr Orwell.  Time to spin in your grave again!  

What “delights” will Celebrity Big Brother (or Big Brother Celebrity Hijack – or whatever the bloody hell it’s now called!) have in store for us this time I wonder?

The first race row was  ‘Poppadomgate‘ courtesy of the intellectual tro that is Jade Goody, Daniella Lloyd and Jo O’mara, (or whatever her name is.  I didn’t want to Google it!).  Then in the civilian version of the show there was Bristol’s very own honourary 4th member of the intellectual Jade Goody gang, Emily Parr, quite possibly the thickest person in the country at the time.  (I almost felt sorry for her, if she wasn’t so stupid.)  Anyway, I’m over it now.  Moving on swiftly……

So what will they stir up for us this time.  I’m betting on them bringing in Louis Farrakhan and Abu Hamza to shake things up a bit and to balance-up the racial bias tension of the past two series. 

Open the popcorn.  Turn on the freak show. 

We await with interest………NOT!

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I’m fully aware that the previous New Year Honours list post could have been written more critically with regards the honours system, etc, but quite frankly I wasn’t in the mood as I saw the opportunity to build up before I tore down.  Tearing down first isn’t always helpful and can be just whinging.

Of course to many, the whole idea of the highest official accolades in the UK continuing to honour the idea of the ‘British Empire’ is problematic to say the least.   Hence you have outspoken figures such as Benjamin Zephaniah and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown who rejected their awards, (well in Yasmin’s case she gave her’s back after being inspired by Benjamin).  But of course I must stress and we all know this isn’t just an “ethnic issue”.  David Bowie, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, JGBallard, LS Lowry, Nigella Lawson, Roald Dahl, Kenneth Branagh and John Lennon, amongst many others are reported to have refused or returned their honours, all for different reasons, some for republican reasons, and others for more topical political events at the time.

But the fact remains for many so called “ethinic minorities” who were born in this country and love this country, the fact that the highest national honour continues to revere the Empire which enslaved, colonised, exploited and under-developed the majority of the countries which made up the British Empire aka the British Commonwealth, (or actually the Commonwealth of Nations as it is now called.)

I know what some of you may be thinking when you read this.  If you don’t like it here, or don’t like the system here, then why not leave?  Well that is where it gets tricky.  For starters most of them love living here and don’t want to live elsewhere because this is where they were born and they have the right to live here and not like 100% of the system, just the same as an indignous white British person has the right to not like everything about the place they live.  Also, gob back where?  Again, this is their home and for many the only home they have ever known. I would ask people who would ask the “why don’t they just leave….” question, – aside from race/immigration issues, can you hand on heart say you like 100% everything about the systems in this country?  (Any country where you might live for that matter as this tension isn’t only relevant for Britain.)

But now coming back to Britain, when you consider that England is the ‘Mother Country’ for 53 independent sovereign states, many of which were enslaved, colonised, exploited and under-developed by the ‘Mother Country’, to a poverty level legacy that can still be witnessed today, then the issue of Britain highest honour continuing to revere the ‘Empire project’ is, to say the very least, distasteful and insensitive to a large amount of loyal British citizens.  Actually, correction, that should be ‘subjects’ not citizens!  (*cough*)

In my more lofty ego moments I daydream and think, if I every got awarded in the new years honours list, would I accept it?  (N.B. Not that I am expecting this call in any of my lifetimes soon you understand!!!!) In my more political and frankly principled moments I think, of course I wouldn’t accept it, how dare they think I need to validate my existence and experience by bowing down to the Queen of the British Empire, etc, etc, etc, for all the reasons mentioned above, etc etc.  But when I am really honest with myself, I know I would be chuffed to be on the list and, well, my mum would be so proud!  (Sorry Benjamin, sorry Yasmin).

I guess I’ll keep waiting by the phone each December, and hope it never rings.

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