Archive for the ‘media’ Category



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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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Sojourner Truth with Margaret Prescod,
Fri, January 15, 2010

Fascinating to listen to other perspectives on a subject.

In this case, community readio – KPFK Radio -on ‘what’s really going’ on in Haiti.

Of course it’s not what ‘really’ going on any more then any other media(ted) framing of experience. However in the Ocean of the other stuff, these perspectives give some insightful counter views.

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Haiti map

Haiti in the World

It is a profoundly painful experience to see Haiti suffer so in the wake of this huge earthquake.  With staggering figures in the British press of 100,000 and predictions up to 500,000 dead, it is one time we hope that this is another exaggerated media story. However the actual quake and its deathly rubble is one thing, but the shortage of clean water and absense of adequate medical supplies in the country will certainly take its toll on the poverty bound nation in the wake of the shaking ground.     

The international relief effort is underway and we hope that their efforts are firmly, truly and effectively directed toward the people of Haiti.  It was really weird to see all the European charity workers on TV leaving on the planes, just when you would have thought their help was really needed. Though it was good to hear that skilled and experienced relief workers from the UK, Europe and around the world were on their way also.  And it’s especially good to hear that American forces are being directed towards this cause instead of just protecting oil pipelines and poppy fields in the Middle East.  Though of course, in addition to the humanitarian concern, the US also has the political pressure to stem any flow of refugees from the island toward its nearby borders.      

If a donation is something you can offer then choose a route to get your funds to the Haitians.  Two such routes are ……      

http://www.dec.org.uk/ – Disasters Emergency Committee – Officially coordinating the British efforts across lots of international charities.      

http://www.yele.org/  – WYCLEF JEAN’s (Haitian born) fundraising outfit which has to date raised almost half a million dollars.      

It is understandable that people may have donation fatigue and cynicism towards such appeals but we hope you still do what suits you and your conscience. Even if that’s a heartfelt prayer.      

Haiti - as tourist destination

One reason that Haiti is so important to Bristol 2007 is that it was the first post-colonial state outside of Africa to become independent and led by African people.  The revolution in St Domingue which ran from 1791 to its independence in 1804 was a prime example of  ‘Slaves Who Abolished Slavery’ , to quote the title of one of  Richard Hart’s books.  As a French colony, and a very profitable one for France,  the call for ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ that accompanied the French Revolution in 1789 had a huge impact on the enslaved, the ‘free blacks’ and the ‘gens de coleur’ (people of colour, like Coloureds in South Africa – basically mixed race people) on the island.  The French Revolution basically led to the rise in revolutionary sentiment on that island , and other French colonies, who wanted a piece of those enlightened ideals.      

First the ‘Coloureds’ went to France to seek equal rights themselves. This they got reluctantly and partially, though not for long.  They even got seats in the French parliament.  There was much division on the island between coloureds, blacks, whites and all such divisions meant that it took a while to realise the French ruling classes were not really ready to give up slavery or their profitable colony.   In 1791, a revolution on the island kicked off   – key players were Toussaint L’Overture, Dessalines and Voodoo priest Boukman.  All were assassinated, tricked or captured at some point though not before ultimately succeeding in their creation of a state. It took a while. After trickery and deception from the French;  bolstering by military collusion with the British in the Caribbean – even though they were generally at war with other during these  times –  and years of bloody conflict before St Domingue became Haiti in 1804.   In 1794 France’s new idealist republican government even abolished slavery altogether before Napoleon seized power and restored slavery in French colonies between 1796 and 1804.     

    (see The Truth About Haiti’s Suffering )

    Danny Glover is due to shoot a film about Toussaint in 2010.      

    Toussaint pic


    We are very keen to see this story out there because it’s an important and iconic story.  There’s  hearsay, rumour and this-and-that being said about the film’s provenance, script, sources of funding and the like, but it also just needs to get out there. Whoever the cast, whatever the outcome, it would be good if it just comes out.   If you don’t like Glover’s film, make another one.  Maybe about Dessalines or the Priest Boukman.   However, for now, Glover must have the connections and impact to make sure that a film happens at a level of profile and production values that positions this story as an important piece of world history.  And one that shows us why this island is a place of vital significance to the ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’ ideals.  So with that in mind, we should support Glover and his endeavour to do so.     

    Of course the Abolition story in Britain does not go into this rebellion stuff much. The British establishment chooses instead to paint hagiographic portraits of William Wilberforce freeing the poor slaves.  Though in truth it was revolutionary actions like the Haitian Revolution and the Sam Sharpe rebellion in Jamaica, Bussa in Barbados, the French Revolution itself and so forth that brought an end to that period of slavery.       

    Yes –  we know that slavery is not really over but transformed into worship of the dollar bill, the pounds, the pence and the yen, debt bondage and other forms of forced labour.  But with that in mind, Bristol2007 hopes you can see why Haiti represents a powerful place to direct some of ours bankers’ bills right now.      

    And after the Relief effort, it would be good to keep an eye on that island to see how else they cope ;  how else we can help;  or how we might be inspired by them.  Not only in the aftermath of natural disaster but also in the light of the ongoing political and economic turmoil that Haiti has experienced in recent times, under poor leadership in a hostile world.      

    As you might see from the picture below. This is Haiti normally, BEFORE the Earthquake. That image might give you an idea of it’s economic place in that world.  

    Everyday Haiti-before any earthquake-a place for ‘cast-off’ clothes from the US. (- click to go to tomorrowmuseum.com)


    Background information:

    ABOUT HAITI ? – – – – >


    Haiti’s poverty – as for other poor countries hit by natural disasters – leaves its people wide open to the kind of devastation that has befallen them. And make no mistake, Haiti’s poverty is not just bad luck or something inherently faulty about its natural resources and people. The country has been kept underdeveloped by decades of political and economic interference from Washington to ensure that this former slave colony continues to serve as a cheap source of agricultural exports to the US and as a labour sweatshop for American corporations making textiles and other consumer goods.

    should “former slave colony” really read- 
    ” REBELLIOUS former slave colony”




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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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    Story from BBC.

    Morrissey saves anti-racism gig


    Morrissey recently sued two magazines for suggesting he was racist

    Singer Morrissey has stepped in to save an anti-racism music festival from possible financial ruin.

    The Rock Against Racism concert is taking place in London on Sunday and organisers said it was facing a £75,000 deficit after a main sponsor withdrew.

    But the former Smiths singer has made a personal donation and rallied together his management, promoters and booking agency to help make up the shortfall.

    The star said it was a “historic event” that “must be allowed to go ahead”.

    He hailed the free event’s “important, anti-racist, message”.

    ‘Generous contribution’

    “This is something I am committed to and we appreciate everyone coming together so quickly to make it happen,” he said.

    Organisers Martin Smith and Lee Billingham said they contacted Morrissey and other artists after the sponsorship fell through.

    “We’re extremely grateful for Morrissey’s generous financial contribution,” they said.

    Headliners at the concert in Victoria Park include The Good The Bad & The Queen, Jay Sean, Hard-Fi, The View and Get Cape Wear Cape Fly.

    Morrissey recently won an apology from Word magazine for suggesting he was a racist and a hypocrite.

    He is also suing the NME after it quoted him as saying Britain had lost its identity due to high levels of immigration.

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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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