Archive for the ‘dirty laundry’ Category

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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This is something I wrote for another purpose a few days before Obama became president . I’ve tweaked it slightly just to make it self-contained so it can be read as a stand alone article. I was going to write a new article now Obama has won but decided not to. All I’ll write is; ‘Congratulations Barak. But now time to keep our feet on the ground and deal with the next day. We can’t look for qualities in Barak that we cannot also find in ourselves. Barak is not our saviour. I am my own saviour. Why look for others, when we have ourselves?’

Anyway, here is the article…..



There are a collection of Chinese curses that spring to mind.

– May you live in interesting times.
– May you come to the attention of those in authority.
– May you find what you are looking for.

Anything peddled directly to/at the ‘black communities’ needs to be questioned, whether they are perceived to be bad, (like crack, guns and liquor stores), or perceived to be “”good”” things (like community/spiritual/political leaders, fashion, or affirmative action). They are all still products that someone else wants to sell to us, and we pay either by giving hard cash, pay with accepting the ideology, or pay with our freedom, or all three as they connected anyway. Not to say we should never trust another Brother or Sister with a message, but we still need to question.

Interesting what some more critical of the Obamamania are saying, that when a black person votes for an elected political official they are accepting the authority of the white system. I Overstand that, but also think that battles have to be fought on many levels, from the inside and outside of establishment. Both strategies together makes for a fuller chance of real change, (my word not Obama’s!), rather than only the freedom fighters on the outside. Not either/or, but both.

That is why if I had to make a decision I would say go for it Obama and prove yourself, and let’s see if you are a SoulJAH working on the inside, or a House Negro polishing the table. We been denied a voice for so long I say give him the platform and let’s see what action follows. But at same time iron sharpens iron so the sharp-eye criteria for questioning Obama will be even more valid after he wins. I am my brother’s keeper and it takes a village to raise a child, so if Obama messes up I have to be prepared to rebuke him, though with that same sense of responsibility I have to be prepared to also rebuke the drug dealer for being on my door step and rebuke my child for being rude to teacher. And with that same sense of justice, I have to be prepared to give credit to Obama when he has done good, to the drug dealer when refuses to sell to a child, and to my child when says please and thank you. It’s an idealist thought, but we are all Obama/McCain or whoever, and we are all Guevara/Tubman and other revolutionaries. Just depends on what we have to do on any given day, and if we are diplomatic to adjust to different situations. That’s another lesson to take from the Chinese. The Art of War.

No matter who wins out of Obama and McCain, that needs to be largely ignored by Guevara and Tubman as they have their Works to do, without distraction. The presidential campaign is not an irrelevant distraction, but it is proportionally insignificant in the global scheme of European White Supremacist Male downpression. When they vote for a black president in Italy, that will truly be The Day.

Bless up!

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There’s something in the air

On Obama day.

Something shifted in the ether

between I and I, you and me.

There’s something in the air today

here in the UK,

as across the globe

Black folk exchange glances with new scopes

Audacious hope

They now hold,

feeling bold.

There’s something,

New self-love?

Shared knowing?

New Pride is tangible for sure.

Maybe Love for their new white sisters and brothers,

emanates from those

once slave-traded to

Ameri-Carib shores.

Fighting to be emancipated, humanised, enfranchised.

Now accommodated in the still-White house.

But no dousing their ecstatic fires today.

Can they kick it?…

Yes they think they can today.

There’s something in the Ether.

Something Historic.

A media wet-dream.

The liberal Anchor-folk on NBC, BBC, CBC gushing

while watching

The expectant youth rushing

to the bullet-proof glass to see their new

Black president,

in the White house.

(Each reporter taking tongue to accent

The colour gag each and every time in that line they so favoured)

There is something in the African air

where villagers drape,

what US citizens today re-shaped.

That ensign the American flag.

Now owned by them and their son.

But Wait!

There’s something in the air of Time,

That African son

was long groomed for this victory.

Bred by a powerful bloodline,

With much,much money

and poor opposition.

I mean, come on – McCain and Palin!?

I daresay, Obama must be the Bankers’ boy

in Blackface.

Powerfully fed and bred

for their Imperial purpose.

The popular biographicals only tell

of one-side.

Fractured family trees.

Isn’t it magical!?

His Kenyan father had three families says daytime TV,

As they draw out the Obama-extendeds

for their fickle studio couches

from all corners of the globe.

The Pauper done good they say but…

There’s something not on the air,

in mainstream media.

No tracing of Obamic cousins

in the presidential and palatial bloodlines throughout the globe

These Princely connections

get no mention

on real television.

Only Youtube types upload, and try to connect the

Bush-Cheney-Powell-Roosevelt-Churchill-Obama ancestral links.

Like Glucksburg-Battenburg-Windsor methinks

And other such regal lines as kept by Burkes’

Carefully mapped.

There’s something in the blood, the DNA

Of these Leaders in the still-white house.

Who like leaders before them always knew

that colour was not a true differentiation

As they expanded in incestuous circles to run the world’s nations.

Descendents of those Leaders from the leading continent.

Egypt’s powerful dynasties.

There’s always something in the air

When a Real leader emerges.

The Weightiest of Expectations.

After reviving, in this case, the people’s love of the notion

And illusion – of Democracy.

What is in the air this 5th of November 2008?

We have to wait and see.

While we stand proud of our cousins in the states. The humble

Feeling united today, unaware of the swindle.
Their young and beautiful hope,

and world-changing aspirations.

43 years after the colored got the vote.

There’s something,

On this Guy Fawkes day, before bonfire night,

Where that foiled Regicidal terrorist is still celebrated with gunpowder games.

While booted-suited soldiers and sandaled-salwar kameezed Taliban warriors

Slug it out for real, under saltpetre skies.

With no True sense of why.

(Where only Montell Williams remembers them

And gets the sack for his patriotic showing.)

There’s something in this.

Though we have to wait to see

Where this audacious move leads.

To land a charismatic black to head the bunch

Of bankers getting bonuses & bailouts while the poor get crunched

And swindled once again.

The cynical, conspiratorially minded say…

There’s something.

While wondering what move ‘they’ are masking.

With this change, where there is

No substative change.

Though, undeniably,

a Symbolically charged motion

Since Dr. King shared his dream

in front of Eqypt’s borrowed Obelisk.

Before BO today makes history.

Being the pretty face to front the city-state of DC.

To charm away the final freedoms, maybe,

of the beautiful, hopeful, rainbow people.


The term starts here.

Breathe careful.

As the tinderbox of this personality cult takes hold.

And this great man holds a great nation in his palm.

On this great day,

We wish you America,

and pray for all Earth

that it is and can be

a Happy Obama day.

And see if he is allowed to do as he say


We know there’s something afoot

but what?

We will soon see.


5th November 2008

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DISCLAIMER: Too much of this entry is about finance, and doesn’t take account of human life and dignity neither past nor present. Apologies if it offends. It’s making a point about something which has been reduced to monetary values.

Given how much the Bristol Corporation (now Bristol City Council) and the city’s merchants and industries made out of enslaving Africans, I would say that £250k is miniscule recompense.

Since there is no-one putting the case for the £250k, I will attempt to clarify how it could be. The question of how to spend any money is of course central. So far this has not been put, so the only idea out there is that they are still commemorating the slave trade. Now this does sound like a waste of money. There is no ‘black’ and ‘white’ divide here either, which is refreshing. The allocation of this money has been universally rebuked.

Now there are a few things to highlight here:

1) There is a programme of activity that has been somewhat ignored by the official 2007 programme.

2) The allocation of £250k to the Legacy Commission is not seen as a one-off commemoration payment but a means to leverage further funds for sustainable activities – including education, health, and cultural representation.

3) What’s it worth anyways, two hunnud and fiddy kays?

Let’s start with point 3)

Bristol was Britain’s premier people-trafficking port in the 1730s. According to Lord Hugh Thomas in his academically respected tome ‘The Slave Trade’,

“Bristol was sending nearly fifty ships a year to Africa between 1728 and 1732, carrying well over 100,000 slaves on them….The most prominent merchants in Africans in Bristol were Isaac Hobhouse, who undertook forty-four slave voyages between 1711 and 1747; James Day, with fifty-six voyages between 1711 and 1742; Richard Henvill, who began slaving in 1709; and later James Laroche…who was far the biggest slave trader of the city, sending out 132 slave voyages between 1728 and 1769”

[p. 245, Picador 1997, hardback. ]

Now to looking at JUST ONE ‘profitable’ voyage in 1755, and quoting the correspondence of one Henry Laurens, a merchant of Charleston,SC , Hugh Thomas goes on

” ‘…Capt.[William] Jeffries [on The Pearl, owned by Thomas Easton & Co., of Bristol] arrived here the 10th instant with 251 pretty slaves….’ Most sold at between £270 and £280 each, ‘a very great price for Angola slaves’. Laurens was able to tell Easton that he had made £52,294 on this voyage.”
[p.269, Ibid.]

With a little homework and the help of this website:
(http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/?redirurl=calculators/ppoweruk/ ) it reveals something of the monetary value. Using the money calculators £270 (the price received for each Angolan) we get this :

£270 0s 0d from 1755 is worth £32,336.86 using the retail price index up to the year 2007. And, in 2007, £52294 0s 0d [the money made on that journey] from 1755 is worth £6,263,050.40.

And don’t bother doing to math to try and work out the 251 x 275 (avg.), it won’t work, as you have to take account of other things sold, and whether this is just profit or total revenue, other costs etc. This also doesn’t take account of the human cost of those who died on the way ‘black & white’….etc. But it serves to illustrate the scale of the thing.

    (However these calculations may be total nonsense. In which case if you have alternative views on how to values 1755 money today, please post em. Let us know how quickly you get to £250k in today’s money)

    While many ventures made losses, of life as well as lucre, those trips that profited really did, with some supposedly turning up 100-300% profit. Hugh Thomas averages it out, in what is a complex calculation overall at about an average of 10% profit throughout. However we look at it, we are talking BIG money. These guys in Bristol were trading ‘legally’ between 1698 to 1807. That’s 109 years. Not accounting for those unregistered journeys before, during and after that time. And the Bristol Corporation ran it. On behalf of the merchants, and the trades and the people of the city. The related industries, corollary activities and spin-offs on the backs of Africans. Those profits came back to the whole of the Bristol economy, much more than the worth of some £1.50 or whatever per council tax payer that has been calculated by James Barlow et al.

    If however you wanna do the reverse you could probably work out what £250k is worth in 1755 money, or you can work it out directly in ‘slaves’ based on The
    Pearl calculations!

    Now let’s take point 2)

    What is the £250k allocated for. Now this has not been clearly defined, and the idea of the local media and the community groups and everybody else is that it’s to ‘commemorate’. Well the idea is Legacy. While there are many people who were glad to see the back of 2007 in as far as it dealt with the slaving business, there were many who expected all the hype to disappear and for the African agenda to die a quiet death. Well they were right, that’s what’s happening. However the Legacy Commission is the remains of the Abolition 200 group, chaired by Paul Stephenson. The idea behind it is to ensure that the 2007 thing don’t just go away. Not to hang on to the past, but to plant a more secure future.
    Stephenson, I know, is keen to see that money used to leverage in other money for other sources outside the city, which can contribute to those groups who are crying out for structural support.
    Even the official report from the city council (http://www.bristol.gov.uk/ccm/content/Leisure-Culture/Local-History-Heritage/abolition-200.en ) talks about sustaining the focus on 1) education, 2) health & well-being & 3) cultural representation. Of course, without the government pressure of a national commemoration this too can go by the wayside, like many other things that are uncomfortable, and just get buried. Like the programme proposed by the COBG at the end of 2006.
    Right now, the debate means that an education group in St Pauls for instance, which works with many African children is busy looking to get this £ that is going to support ‘more commemoration’. Whereas in fact, it could be money that is leveraging in further support for education, of which they could and should be a benefactor. Instead thanks to Cllr Eddy and the Evening Post, the blacks are at each others throats again. Killing the goose, and trying to dig out the golden eggs. And so the Knowle Westers are at St Pauls’ throats.

    And speaking of things that get buried, whatever happened to that programme of activity put forward by the COBG in the moment of glory when everyone was looking at them cos the Deputy Prime Minister was. Now the spotlight if off, where is that sitting?
    Which takes me to point 1)

    I have taken the Admin privilege of making a page for this paper clickable above – ‘Operation Maafa’ – (or the link at the end of this paragraph). This is a paper that was not buried, it was in fact still-born. Never really seeing the light of day, as there were too many people feeling threatened by the Introduction. [So I’ve taken another liberty and pasted that Introduction at the end so the paper starts with Vision & Purpose] Now if that was studied carefully, then I think people might see some productive work that has come out and could still come out of it for the benefit of ALL Bristol citizens. Some might have to look harder than others to see the benefit. Some are wearing spectacles that would never see the benefit, but either way, some light needs to be cast on it. So here it is again… https://bristol2007.wordpress.com/operation-maafa/
    The most telling thing about this paper when it landed, was that the voluntary sector, and teh black voluntary sector, who should have been in a position to deliver it, were totally unable to due to lack of capacity. That could and should be addressed. And this paper should be reviewed. It falls short in many ways, and there are partnerships to be had with the tentacles of the same Bristol City Council (formerly Bristol Corporation) to develop some of that Legacy programme.

    Now for me, it’s not that I am so bogged down, or tied up with this money. But I got very frustrated about the many public views about what it wasn’t. And to see groups who could be supporting it, OR MOREOVER AT LEAST SUPPORTING EACH OTHER, with a bigger picture in mind, set to squabbling for scraps. Now is it best to give a few crumbs to a group in St Pauls or Knowle who will need much more than what they are offered now, to run for one year, and then see them all screwing up their face in December 2008 again? Or invest in a strong and sustainable voluntary sector that has to capacity to deliver services and have the capacity to manage itself, build skills, resources and creative ways of educating, healing, entertaining, informing or whatever.

    250 or no 250! Either ways these black groups, white groups, asian groups, muslim groups, legacy commissions and wot not will all be looking at each other hatingly. As these stories of peanuts which make the press giddy, are divvied up to cupped hands of slathering desperados with over-low aspirations, beaten down annually by the budget round.

    Not saying how to spend it, but rather how to look at it.That’s my £250k’s worth anyway. In old money that’s probably about a tuppence.
    Aw I dunno you do the math then!



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    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.


    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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    We’ve heard all the great speeches from Malcolm to Martin
    Now we have this last chance left…….
    To rise up out of the ashes of slavery
    Time is a very important element in this journey
    We can’t afford to be 24 carrot’d up
    Addicted to retail and bling
    Wasting time and spending on nonsense
    We got grown men in toy stores like little children in candy stores
    Buying PS2’s, 35 to 40, black men reduced to boys
    Time dictates the agenda here
    Time is God
    Time is God
    Enough said we got to feed our heads
    The shit is piping over the pulpits, tv sets and radios
    Hip Hop is moving the masses
    We got to take back our children and guide them
    When you love someone you develop the mental capacity to reach the thing that you love
    No more nonsense
    The airwaves are poison-ness with this jibberish
    These grim hymns, black light
    We need to get their ass off the mic
    If Hip Hop is the seer in other voices
    Why are the dead teaching the dead?
    We got to end the reign of pimping and ho’ing as entertainment for the masses
    Wasting time on nonsense
    Time dictates the agenda here
    Time is God
    Time is God
    Time is God
    Some say we only have a little time left
    We can use it wisely
    To teach, think and rebuild our mental banks
    Great people don’t ask comedians, actors and entertainers to lead
    Great people produce what we need
    For history to record our deeds as a great nation
    Or will we continue to be a shell of a once great people?
    Wasting time on nonsense
    Time dictates the agenda here
    Time is God
    Time is God

    How to sell soul (Time is God Refrain)”

    Chuck D / Public Enemy


    How to Sell Soul to a Souless People who Sold their Soul

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