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Archive for the ‘multiculturalism’ Category

Had a good friend tell me today that a young mixed-race girl of 12, was speaking of ancestry in the classroom. As one of only two ‘mixed-race’ children in the class, she referred to Caribbean islands as where her ancestors came from.  The teacher, quite rightly tells her that her ancestors did originate from Africa but then because of a widespread flu epidemic they all left Africa for the Caribbean!

No mention of slavery. My friend is still in shock, wondering if the 12 year old just did not translate everything properly or if this really is the state of educators’ education on transatlantic slavery.

Being a teacher himself, my friend wondered if it was something to do with the limited amount of time available to be able to even broach the subject; or maybe he did not want the girl to be singled out as having slave ancestors. Whatever the reason, it’s most likely that the teacher is ill-equipped to tackle the subject confidently, leaving all the various descendents in the class with their self-esteem in tact.

There must be ways. Educating children on ‘the slave trade’ is tough it’s true. Like other sensitive subjects that reveal the Truth about the dark side of humanity that teachers try to educate children away from expressing. To be good boys and girls and responsible citizens we are bound.  But when teachers themselves are not educated on subject mentally nor had to chance to work the ideas through emotionally and politically,  teaching and learning transatlantic slavery will remain dangerous to the delicately developing adolescent and greater social psyche.

map illustration

 

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You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

STILL I RISE
BY MAYA ANGELOU 
Original copyright remains

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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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On Radio 4 a while ago there was a debate about patron saints and nationalism, and if it was a healthy thing.  One of the guests said they thought Saint George’s day was a good opportunity for different communities to celebrate in England, as Saint George himself represented inclusiveness as he was born in Turkey, and (according to Wikipedia) is the patron saint of Aragon, Catalonia, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia, as well as the cities of Amersfoort, Beirut, Fakiha, Bteghrine, Cáceres (Spain), Ferrara, Freiburg, Genoa, Ljubljana, Gozo, Milan, Pomorie, Preston, Qormi, Rio de Janeiro, Lod, Barcelona and Moscow.

Here goes then!

“This painting of a religious procession was done in the 19th century in Ethiopia by an unknown artist.  It shows St George riding above the procession on a white horse. You can read about it in more detail on The British Museum’s website.  St George is one of the most important saints in Ethiopia. Paintings of him were taken into battle ahead of the Ethiopian army to give them victory.”

© The British Museum (this version of the was text taken from Show Me website).

Happy Saint George’s Day!

Photograph © Shawn Naphtali Sobers 2010

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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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(Eurocentric) Timeline on Port Cities

a Timeline on Port Cities website (click pic to go there)

This timeline is pretty useful. For history in an British school or education system. They are right of course, those who would argue it’s Eurocentric. Though no reason to dismiss it. It’s good for passing history exams in this country true enough! And it gives good references points for orienting our heads around annals of history even if it is on the Gregorian Calendar. Part of living in a multicultural world should be being able to navigate such things no? This is a time of World History.

Reading History – Coules vs. Dresser   – Two Books :

The Trade (Victoria Coules)

and

Slavery Obscured. (Madge Dresser)

Recently we’ve been reading some books The Trade by Victoria Coules and Slavery Obscured by Madge Dresser.  They are both excellent ways into the subject of Bristol and its role in transatlantic slavery. The Trade is a nice  easy read. It begins by acknowledging the roaring passions that were ignited with whole 2007 Abolition thing recently. It then flows through the story from the making of Brigstowe (Bristol) through to…well chapter 8 at the moment. Coules draws on a number of sources in recent writing and research including Madge Dresser. That’s the other book. Madge’s is much more academic in its historiography and prides itself on getting close to the sources. Madge is an academic historian. Victoria is a film maker. Victoria wants to share a story that fascinates us, researched it and shared it with us in like an easy but informative documentary film. Madge wants to push back the frontiers of knowledge on the subject and assert new a position.  One thing Slavery Obscured looks to do is clarify the exact nature of the impact of the Africa business on Bristol’s rise in ‘Gentility’ (ironic notion) .  The language of the Slavery Obscured is much more academic – with its research, many images and ploughing of new research sources and directions.  It asserts a certain authority in research in this field.  The Trade is a much easier read since  the language targets a much wider  audience.  It could be read by older primary school children.  Both bring Bristol into the mix giving a much better of picture of exactly what we mean by ‘Bristol had something to do with the slavery’.

Both are reading well so far, and backing each other up about Bristol, Cabot, Colston, the ‘white slave trade’, (Which Derek Robinson mentioned back in 1973 with his very readable Shocking History of Bristol and giving dates and names to Bristol’s involvment in the ‘Africa trade’.   The Coules and Dresser books  complement each other well. So  more Coules AND Dresser rather than VERSUS. They are useful to bounce back and forth between and feture lots of knowledge there for us to better our understanding of the nature, impact and legacy of Bristol’s involvement.

Monarchs and Merchants

What happened to the wealth people featured on this BBC site?

What’s quite enjoyable about reading books about history is the references to English history. A bit like school.  With Henry VII and VIII, Mary, Elizabeth I, James, Charles, Cromwell and so forth. They are all there. Though some of it also reads like any page of the Financial Times today. Then there’s Colstons and Canynges and Cabots –  Investors in (ad)-ventures, traders and protectors of UK GDP.  New Worlds, New Markets.

But now. New Identities. For those transported and..

…for many of those companies, banks, insurance companies, big corporations have changed their names. And business interests.  Well maybe not Tate and Lyle. Like those after the Nazi Holocaust that became safe names like BASF. [as Wikipedia would say – needs citation]

There are a few institutions that are still evident very strongly today. The Monarchy, Bristol City Council and The Society of Merchant Venturers. Others have changed evolved in identity as well as markets. The monarchy were clearly key investors in licenses and laws to trade and colonise. Though when the whole busines proved proved lucrative, the intested cash.

Bristol City Council.

Many of the Society of Merchant Venturers were also members of Bristol Corporation, the council that ran the city. They were powerful men. The setting up of the Society transformed a loose network of traders into a formal organisation to promote trade..

The members of the Society were the leading merchants of the city and they had asked King Edward VI for a charter (a licence) allowing them to oversee foreign trade. They complained that the city�s trade was being ruined by untrained merchants. The King�s charter gave control of overseas trade to the Society and the rules governing membership stated that members should have been through a proper apprenticeship or training in the �Arte of Merchaunts� (the Art of the Merchant).
quotes above from Port Cities website

All the big Bristol names carved into the walls, the streets, the monuments, the houses, the parks and public places are there in this story. It’s impossible to separate from any aspect of English life of the time. A bit like trying to separate the arms trade from other strands of the global economy including our pensions funds and saving accounts.

The story of the (white) Bristol poor is another thing and they could have been shipped to ‘Barbadoes’ for liberating  a loaf of bread to feed their starving families.  Barbados was not the tourist hotspot we know today (that’s a later market!) but a growing colony in a hostile climate, hungry for labour on sugar plantations.

Barbadoes, William Mayo , 1722

From British Library

The books refer to the time when one notorious Judge Jeffreys comes to Bristol to get the ‘great’ and the ‘good’ back for support the Monmouth Rebellion . This guy is notorious for enjoying cruelty and using his power as a judge to revel in it. But then even he comes to Bristol in the 1680’s to tell the Bristol rich and powerful off for their their cruel habits. The Bristol courts (where the judiciary were also planters and investors in the colonisation project) were conning unfortunate Bristolians who found themselves up for trial for the most meagre of offences,  into taking an alternative sentence in the West Indies .

But then, Jeffreys telling them off was really a politically motivated thing because the Bristol rich were supporting the rebels against the current monarchy. Because clearly he didn’t care either. Those same bloody assizes (courts / trials)  he held did exactly the same thing.

The subsequent Bloody Assizes of Judge Jeffreys were a series of trials of Monmouth’s supporters in which 320 people were condemned to death and around 800 sentenced to be transported to the West Indies.
Wikipedia (Monmouth Rebellion)

However the times were thus. Those new and emerging colonies not, yet 150 years after Columbus and Cabot, needed labour to generate the wealth required for those investors back home in empire-building ventures.  So as the Taino, Caribs, Arawaks and Native Americans, Amerindians as we know them began to die , from European diseases and just pure genocide, the transported European convicts and ‘volunteers’  also withered in the tropical sun.  With the whole UK /European investment and venture under threat there was a voracious demand for labour.  Hence the Africans were increasingly captured, transported, worked, tortured, bred and belitted for the wealth of Great Britain and Bristol. This was already happening with Portugal and Spain but the British streamlined it.

Africentric timelines?

Guardian – Black History Timeline – at least it doesn’t start at 1619… see next

biography.com – Black History Timeline –  ‘coca-cola’ version that starts in 1619 with Obama prominent in the present.

Smithsonian Institute – Timeline – Mali, Ethiopia, Nile Valley

Paul Obinna’s Timeline

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