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Soon to launch after months of toil is:

Book Cover - Design by Derek Edwards/Patwa

Book Cover - Design by Derek Edwards/Patwa

Myths, Facts & Feelings – Bristol and transatlantic slavery.

In an effort to respond to views in the communities across Bristol on the subject of transatlantic slavery, this 40 page booklet represents a cathartic journey. Through community research, consultation and commissioning; with academic guidance and creative application, this project has materialised as this small publication.

Myths, Facts and Feelings offers knowledge, ideas and questions toward a more mature understanding of the undervalued history and legacy of transatlantic slavery.  From the viewpoint of one city in the West of England, we see how a past reflects on our present and how it can be harnessed to determine our future – in Bristol and around the world.

The launch takes place on 29th November 2010 in Bristol.

Produced by Firstborn Studios

Design by Patwa

Published by Bristol Race Forum / Community Media SW

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I was lucky enough to attend the slavery trail in Bristol, with only a small group we embarked on this journey where we would learn about slavery and its past. The four of us walked through Queen Square and heard all about the things that had taken place there and the people who were involved. There was so much information to recieve but none of it stuck in my mind, there was nothing within the trail or that was heard that made me feel the need to challenge what I had heard or make me listen more attentively to what was being said.

We learned who the statue was situated in the middle of Queen Square, walked across Pero’s bridge, looked at the plaque situated on the front of the Shakespere public house, stood outside  Merchants House, saw a few other places and ended at the Redcliffe caves. The Redcliffe caves were said to have stored slaves over night when they came off of the slave ships, it was at this point that I felt something,  like I was actually at a place were black people were kept captive, locked up unable to walk freely as I am today. Then to hear that black slaves were never kept in Bristol is a total contradiction to what stories I have been told in my lifetime. I mean no black slaves what do you mean? after speaking with my mum she informed me that slaves were sold on corn street and i know that i’ve been told that before, so now how am I  supposed to feel. Why is the truth being hidden,  I mean its already happened but why try to deny it.

My feeling towards the myth that black people were not kept captive is anger and annoyance why is there a trail about slavery in Bristol then. Going on the walk did’nt help me at all, I dont feel that I got anything from it and would not go again, for me this chapter is done its about time we made a new trail which shows the rise of black people , where it all started, who was the first black person to fight for their rights, what did they achieve and continue from there.

 I am not a slave I am free but my mind is not free from thinking like a slave . When will I decide to take responsibility for my own history? Embracing my african carribbean ancestry and making it a positive aspect of my life?  I believe that only then will I be able to share my awareness with my siblings, nieces and newphews, family and friends.

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A good question to ask is where am I going with this? what results am I looking for?, what will happen differently when the results are in? As a child I never celebrated black history, I dont remember much about any historical figures, I dont remember my mum, dad or granparents telling me about role models or heroes that were black, where I want to go from here is to re-establish the fact that black people will and can rise up, they can work together within their communities for their communities. 

From here I want  to celebrate my people together, enabling them to share their perspective of the theory and its effects in todays society but also giving them a chance to commemorate all that young, old, light, dark black  people have achieved.

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My name is Salama and i am 24 years old i am the fourth child of  nine from my father and the first of two from my  mother.  As a child growing up i always felt that i didn’t recieve the black history i needed to support me with who i wanted to be, I am on a quest to find out the positives in black history. I want to know where black people have lived and what black people have done for up and coming black people today.

Personally i am aware of what black history can be but I have been overcasted because whenever it is mentioned we only ever hear about slavery. I am not interested in slavery, I want to know what has happened to the legacies of the black people who died to make things right for us. I want to know about the facts about our black leaders and heroes, recieve information about our culture, past and present victories and aspirations.

With this project i want to open eyes and ears but for this to happen i need to be involved with people in Bristol to gather information.

Where should i begin?

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Who am I in Bristol

Being able to talk about slavery and Bristol made me really have to think about what i knew about the town i have been brought up in. I mentioned before that learning about Willie Lynch was the beginning of any understanding for me around why we as black people live the way we do. The self destruction we bring to each others lives, putting people down, not wanting the best for one another, I can finally see the reasons behind this behavior, but at the same time i am concerned with the fact that now this information is out there what can be done to change the stereotypical views of Black people. Who am i in Bristol im yet to find out but as i travel on this journey to see the effects of slavery in Bristol i am interested to see who i can become.

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Myths and Facts

or

Facts and Feelings?

This working title for this book project is a bit problematic.

The idea of myths suggests something that is not ‘true’. Something that is a part of folklore, usually involving supernatural and celestial beings.  The kind of ‘myth’ we are supposed to be dealing with here though is like:

Slaves were kept in caves in Redcliffe.

or

Blacks were sold on Blackboy Hill.

Blackboy Hill on Port Cities website

Blackboy Hill on Port Cities website

While I could not say that this is absolutely untrue, I am aware that established historical orthodoxy on the subjects suggest that such things were certainly not the norm.

The other kind of ‘myth’ we are dealing with is

‘That’s such a long time ago, let’s move on’.

Usually that comes from a feeling that we should change the subject and not talk about this anymore.  We’ve learned over the last few years that it’s important to acknowledge these feelings. It’s not a ‘myth’, it’s an opinion and since it’s accompanied by an emotional charge, then there is a reality to it.   Any book on Bristol and transatlantic slavery,  published now, addressing popular prominent ideas about the subject should touch on such common feelings and ideas too we feel.

How long is ‘too long’ and what is meant my ‘move on’ are some arguable points right there. But such ideas are common. It’s difficult for people not get agitated or uncomfortable when exploring this subject.  Is it like talking about the Nazi implemented Holocaust in Germany?   It would be great to see our capacity for such conversation in Bristol to mature. And it is completely possible But first there is the need for the alleviation of much ignorance.

Knowledge will lead to understanding and hopefully some shifts in feeling. Like it or not our thoughts and feelings do impact on our realities today. Even when something has come out of nothing like Tracy thought that Brian said some stuff about her.  It’s still going to affect how Tracy and Brian relate to each other.

This book, if anything is to be added to the dialogue in the city must address FEELINGS.  It must enhance the dialogue. Especially after all the fireworks from the Abolition 200 moment has long sizzled out, gone soggy and got stamped into the streets of yesterday.

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The task is to make a book with community input into the process. The first part of this input was to go away for what one collaborator called a ‘co-creation’ exercise. A residential in Devon to and get immersed in the subject. Watched a film, wore our wellies, had some chats, ate some food, explored the aims of the project, addressed some questions, raised a whole lot more and came up with some starters for these. and…

the project page was started.

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