Monday, 26 March 2007


Journalist Brendan O’neil writes a piece for the Guardian comment is free section today and it is titled “Enslaved by self-pity”.

He believes that “the idea that black people are 'emotionally scarred' by slavery is borderline racist".

He then went on to write:
Young black Britons risk being enslaved by self-pity thanks to the dodgy deterministic arguments of various community workers, commentators and officials. Click here to read more.


Some members of the black community have been demanding an apology for Britain's involvement in the slave trade, and last week the Mayor of London did apologies which was published in this weeks issue of The Voice.

The Mayor writes in the paper:

The British government must formally apologise for it. All attempts to evade this are weasel words; delay demeans our country.

Some members of Britain agree however there are those who feel today's Britain doesnt have to apologise for the slave trade because it happened 200 years ago. One of those people is journalist, Mick Hume who explains his opinion in this article (click here to read).

At the commemorative event I attended on Saturday, lecturer Dr Hakim Adi (a guest speaker at the event) when asked about a slavery apology, he replied: "If Tony apologised would you believe him?" he then called the Prime Minister, Tony Blair "a here today and gone tomorrow politician".

Saturday, 24 March 2007


Tomorrow marks the 200th anniversary of the abolishment of the slave trade act in Britain and BBC London, the British Library and the Roots initiative held a commemoration event yesterday in aid of the anniversary.

The Passage of Time – Uncovering the Untold Histories of the Transatlantic Slave Trade included lectures, discussions, performances and activities that took place at the British Library.
At the start of the occasion we were introduced to singer Juwon Ogunbe who welcomed us with music by former slave turned composer Ignatius Sancho. One of the songs Ogunbe performed was titled Kate of Aberdeen. I was surprised at the powerful voice the small singer had and he belted out the songs superbly.

Actors Patrick Robinson and Jan Lower brought to life the writings of Thomas Clarkson and Olaudah Equiano with their performance.

Middlesex University lecturer and Historian, Dr Hakim Adi presented a lecture titled An Examination of the Wider Historical Context of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. He stated in response to the heavy media coverage about abolitionist William Wilberforce that “Africans themselves played a leading role in the abolishment of slavery”. Dr Adi gave an example of Olaudah Equiano. He also discussed how the 1807 abolishment act didn’t end slavery, even after the 1830’s when slavery itself was made illegal “Britain’s meddling” in Africa did not cease - he gave the example of colonialism. Throughout the event Dr Adi stressed that “we are our own liberators”.

Peter Herbert, a barrister and chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, addressed The Legacies of Slavery for Contemporary British People. Herbert touched on the use of the word n*gger within the black community and he said it was “not possible to celebrate such a word”.
In fact a member of the audience said she found the use of the word “black” just as offensive as n*gger because it “shows that you look at colour first” and she would rather be called “African”.

Those present where invited to document their thoughts on the Slave Trade and its Abolition in a commemorative book.

The event ended with a debate chaired by BBC London’s Dotun Adebayo. The question of “What Should the legacy of the Anniversary be?” was discussed by a panel of Dr Hakim Adi, Peter Herbert, Esther Stanford of the African reparation movement UK and assistant comment editor at The Guardian, Joseph Harker.
The audience added ideas such as a slave trade museum in London being built, a black current affairs programme on TV, a commemorative coin, killing African debt and empowering black youth.

Black youth was a subject raised throughout the event in fact one person in the audience voiced that they (the adults) should pledge to black youth to make Britain a better place. There was also focus on education as many felt that the education system and media do not present the whole picture of black history which often left black youth clueless.

I asked Paulette Harris-German, Roots Project Coordinator BBC London/Arts Council England what inspired this event and she stated: “It is important to acknowledge the contribution of Africans to this country in an artistic as well as academic way.”

Natasha Tannis, 31, teaching assistant, from Clapton stated: “Today has been a truly inspirational day; it has been a real eye opener into what happened in the history of black people. As a black mother I truly believe education is important for our young people and we need to educate our children and teach them about black history.”

The debate was recorded and will be broadcast on radio tomorrow on the Sunday Night Special with Dotun Adebayo and Valley Fontaine from 8pm to 10pm on BBC London 94.9FM.

Friday, 23 March 2007


If you are wondering why there has been an upsurge in articles and media coverage about the slave trade then you definately need to read this post.

This sunday marks the 200th anniversary of the British Parliament's abolition of the slave trade act in 1807. However the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act outlawed slavery itself throughout the British Empire and slaves did not gain their final freedom until 1838.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said Britain is to hold an annual commemoration day to remember its role in the slave trade, as well as the fight to end it. He told The Guardian daily that he expected the day would be sometime in June and said it could provide an opportunity for the country to consider how it could help modern day Africa. Prescott also stated: “Like the Holocaust, we are learning to talk about the slave trade more openly and more honestly."

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are asking people to take time this coming weekend to reflect on the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade and use the anniversary of the Act for its abolition as a springboard for taking action to tackle the impact of the trade's legacies today, including examples of human trafficking and oppression across the globe.

Events are being held this weekend to commemorate the abolishment, in fact tomorrow I will be visiting the “Passage of Time – Uncovering the Untold Histories of the Transatlantic Slave Trade” event held at the British Library in conjunction with the BBC.

Other events that are taking place can be viewed by clicking here.


The Observer newspaper asked children at a Primary school in Hertfordshire about their views on the transatlantic slave trade.

To read what the 10 and 11 year olds had to say please click here.


In the wake of the commemoration events being held this weekend (200th anniversary of the abolishment of the slave trade act in Britain), the Times journalist, Alice Miles has written an article about racial equality in Britain.

Here is an extract from her column:

The Queen will attend the service at Westminster Abbey to mark the bicentenary of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, 1807. Have you ever seen her with any black advisers? Have you seen many of them around the Prime Minister? Parliament has come up with myriad ways to commemorate the anniversary of this Act of Parliament, including a whole section dedicated to it on its website, copies of ancient parchment and what have you, but it doesn’t even officially collect figures for the ethnicity of its MPs today.

To read more please click here.


Writer and lecturer Neil Davenport poses the question of: "Are the commemorations of the abolition of the slave trade helping to foster fatalism amongst young black Britons?" in his article titled "Chaining black youth to the victim culture".

The following is an extract from the article:

Nearly everyone today is encouraged to identify themselves as victims of some sort. But black youth are encouraged by anti-racists to identify themselves as perma-victims, both then (slavery) and now (all-pervasive racism). The upshot is that some black teenagers develop a fatalistic approach to their chances in study and their chances in the world beyond. ‘As a black person I don’t think I’ll ever be allowed to get on’, is a common refrain amongst some of my students. This worrying development hasn’t gone unnoticed. During the spate of shootings involving teenagers in south London last month, one veteran black community leader told BBC London News that ‘it must be acknowledged that black people don’t have it as bad now as it was in the past’.

The lecturer also writes (in regards to the commemoration events that are being held this weekend in aid of the British 200th anniversary of the abolishment of the slave trade act):

The cruellest irony of this weekend’s commemorations is that it is young black people who will lose out. Aside from fostering dodgy notions that black people are objectively driven by the hand of history, by what happened to their ancestors hundreds of years ago, a process is underway whereby the perma-victim label becomes corrosively internalised.

To read the entire article please click here.

Thursday, 22 March 2007


I have just read something which further illustrates the representation of Black and ethnic minority youth in the media, on this website Operation Black Vote and I urge you to read the article.


Sociology lecturer, Dr Claire Alexander from London School of Economics (LSE) university was a guest speaker at my sociology lecture this week.

Dr Alexander was talking about her research in the fields of race, ethnicity, masculinity and youth. The bubbly lecturer discussed her two books The Art of Being Black (1996) and The Asian Gang (2000).

The Art of Being Black explores how young Black Britons create their cultural identities. Dr Alexander rejects the common tendency to view black communities in terms of conflict and the book was based on her participant observation of Black British youth aged 18-25.

The Asian Gang depicted Asain youth identies and confronted myths of Bengali "gangs" whilst being based on the lives and experiences of Bangladeshi/Muslim youth aged 14-19.

Dr Alexander stated that in her books she wanted to explore the representation of Black and Asian youth, the stereotypes attributed to them and the actual experiences of these young people.

Media representation was an aspect she touched on. Dr Alexander said that Black and Asian families were often portrayed as having something wrong with them. For example she states that Black families are seen as too matriarchal due to absent fathers whereas Asian families are seen as too repressive with strict parents.

In fact this can be seen in the media today, as with the recent heavy reporting of gun crime and stabbings in the Black community has led to politicians, journalists, sociologists and ordinary members of the public including those within the Black community blaming absent fathers.

Another interesting point Dr Alexander raised that may be relevant in the current state of media representation of Black and Asian youth, is the concept of “folk devils” and "moral panics” (Stan Cohen).

These terms refer to the media portraying images to the public that demonise certain groups and this allows controls to be implemented to keep these “folk devils” restrained. For example the media portrayal of black males as muggers during the 1980’s led to moral panics amongst the public which then led to a disproportionate amount of black males being subjected to the stop and search policy.

Dr Alexander’s talk about media representation, stereotypes and moral panics led me to question whether these issues can shed light on the present representation on black youth in the media. The recent incidents of "black-on-black" crime has received heavy media coverage, whilst figures do actually show gun crime has decreased as a friend of mine - JR has illustrated in his blog "GunLondon".

Therefore the question I would like to ask is with the current heavy reporting of violent crimes in the Black community, are we witnessing “folk devils” and "moral panics"?

Monday, 19 March 2007


Journalist Jackie Ashley expresses her opinion on the recent stabbings of Kodjo Yenga and other youngsters in today's issue of The Guardian newspaper. Ashley believes "the war against teenage violence is winnable".

She reports: "I suspect, though I cannot prove, that there is a racist tinge to the reaction of the majority. People think, but don't say, well, it's only black on black, or Asian on Asian for that matter. It is one gang of uncivilised young thugs against another (though Kodjo was neither a gang member nor a young thug). Keep out of their way, and these murders will continue but won't touch us. When the people involved are young and white, another defence mechanism kicks in: "Well, it happened outside a pub/nightclub in the small hours. If you're not young, male and drinking in the wrong place, this won't touch you."

To read more click here.


Last week Wednesday saw the fatal stabbing of 16 year old Kodjo Yenga.

The Guardian reported on Friday that a post-mortem examination found that Kodjo, of Portland Road, west London, died from a single stab wound to the heart. Schoolchildren gathered and chanted "kill him" as the teenager was attacked in Hammersmith Grove on Wednesday afternoon, witnesses said.

Seven young males, all black and aged between 13 and 21, have been arrested over the murder.

Then Saturday saw another knife murder as 15 year old Adam Regis died from a single stab wound to the chest. The youngster from south-east London was the nephew of the British Olympic silver medal-winning sprinter John Regis. The police continue their hunt for "two hooded youths".

Many newspaper articles, forums and blogs are now drawing comparisons with these two terrible incidents and the three fatal shootings of black teenagers during February 2007 and are discussing the issue of “black-on-black crime”.

In fact the news has crossed the British border, with an Australian radio programme reporting that the fatal assault on Adam was the fifth gun or knife attack on a black teenager in London in six weeks, and has reinforced concerns about a growing "knife culture" in the capital.

An article I read in The Times this morning reported issues surrounding the death of Adam Regis by informing that 59% of people accused of knife robberies are black, as are 41% of people accused of knife crimes in general.

Communities secretary Ruth Kelly has played down the view that such violent attacks are widespread by stating while the deaths were tragic, similar crimes were not "sweeping the country". "Even though they are more prevalent than we'd like, [these are] still relatively isolated incidents which cause extraordinary grief and agony in particular communities."

Today on Choice FM radio station deejay Masterstepz called for parents to keep an eye on their kids and for youngsters to change their ways.

However the black community is going to need much more reassurance and assistance from the government, as a vast amount of people feel the issue of what has been dubbed “black-on-black crime” is getting out of hand.

Personally I'm tired of reading people pointing the finger, talking about what should be done without acting on and implementing their solutions and/or trying to play down such awful deaths; which may be "isolated incidents" however human life is being wasted. We need less talk and much more action.

Click here to read more about the tragic deaths of Kodjo and Adam.

Sunday, 18 March 2007


The not widely acknowledged involvement of Feminists in the abolition of the slave trade was unmasked on the website, Black Information Link this week.

The website highlighted the link between anti-racism and feminist movements in Britain. This revelation coincides with the 200th anniversary of the abolishment of the slave trade act in Britain.

To read more click here.


The Fawcett Society recently launched a campaign to erase the “dual invisibility” of ethnic minority women. The society staes: “The needs and experiences of ethnic minority women have long been overlooked in public policy leading to persistent disadvantage in all areas of ethnic minority women’s lives.”

The feminist group dates back to 1866, when feminist Millicent Fawcett began her lifetime's work leading the campaign for women's votes. Nowadays the society aims to “close the gap between women and men”.

To read more about the campaign click here.


With this week’s revelation of the 50 most influential and powerful Black women in the New Nation weekly black newspaper, I was busy spreading the word; however much to my surprise a lot of people were clueless.

When discussing the fact that Baroness Valerie Amos topped the list and was described in the paper as the most influential and powerful Black woman in Britain, I encountered quite a few puzzled faces.

Many people also knew little about Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal QC (Queen's Council) who came in at number two. It’s funny how everybody knew who Naomi Campbell is, though she only came in three places below Baroness Amos.

Baroness Amos is the first black woman cabinet minister and joint first black woman peer and the appointed Leader of the House of Lords, for those of you who want to know more please click the link above.

Baroness Scotland on the other hand is Minister of State for the criminal justice system and offender management. In fact this Sunday evening those of you who watched BBC Parliament would have seen her discussing Black Youth and Criminal Justice during a Home Affairs Committee session.

Monday, 12 March 2007


The New Nation, a weekly black newspaper published in Britain is celebrating their new women’s supplement launch, The F Word today.

The newspaper has revealed in this week’s issue (out today) the 50 most powerful and influential black women in Britain; in order to commemorate the launch.

The list features women from the varied fields of politics, business, entertainment, law, sport, music and medicine.

One of the Britain’s first black female judges, Constance Briscoe appears in the list. She is also well known for her powerful and critically acclaimed autobiography, Ugly which documents her life of child abuse and was an instant bestseller.

The first black female newsreader, Moira Stuart is also on the list. She regularly features on BBC television channels and is one of Britains "best-loved TV personalities".

Grammy-nominated group Floetry, who have conquered the US music industry (which very few British artists have been able to do) also appear on the list.

Sociologists such as black feminist Bell Hooks have described black women as being likely to suffer dual discrimination because of their ethnicity and sex. In some cases black women may suffer triple discrimination when class as well as ethnicity and sex are considered. Bell Hooks has written many books on race and representation, click here to view a selection.

I personally have found that black women, in fact ethnic minority women in general do not appear to have a voice and are rarely featured in British media and when they are it tends to be for negative reasons. So it is nice to see 50 black women receive positive recognition.

To find out more about the New Nation’s compiled list buy this weeks issue or click here.

Sunday, 11 March 2007


Finally the Walt Disney Company presents a Black heroine, Princess Maddy as it was announced this week will be added to the lucrative Disney Princess line, which has generated $3 billion in global retail sales since 1999. Disney Princesses are the fastest-growing brand for the company’s Consumer Products division.

The Black fictional character will star in an animated musical fairy tale called “The Frog Princess,” which will be set in New Orleans and Walt Disney Studio’s first Black Princess will be the central star.

Princess Maddy will join eight other Disney Princesses, two of which are Middle Eastern Princess Jasmine (who was the first non-white Princess introduced in "Aladdin"1992) and Native Indian Princess Pocahontas ( "Pocahontas" 1995).

The Walt Disney Company has just recently started production on the musical fairy tale and the film is set for release in 2009.

Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook on Thursday at its annual shareholders' meeting, which also took place in New Orleans stated: "The film's New Orleans setting and strong princess character give the film lots of excitement and texture". The choice of a black princess is part of a long-term marketing strategy to give Disney characters as much "diversity" as possible.

Singer-musician Alicia Keys is reportedly desperate to lend her voice to Princess Maddy, however no announcements have been made in regards to who will voice the lead character.

It’s about time Disney got in touch with reality and reflected the multicultural world that we live in and I would like to know who YOU think should voice the character Princess Maddy?
(Click here and here to read more)


Pc Anthony Mulhall, of South Yorkshire Police, was removed from public duty this week as he was captured on CCTV footage (pictured above) using "brute force" when he struck a young black woman from Sheffield, Toni Comer "as hard as I was physically able" while arresting her.

He claims to have hit Toni Comer, who was 19 at the time, to subdue her so she could be handcuffed.
However the CCTV footage shows the violent truth in which Ms Comer falls down some stairs, whilst PC Mulhall falls on top of her and then she is pinned to the ground by Mulhall, another PC and two of the nightclub staff. PC Mulhall can be seen to deliver five punches to the young lady while a foot then appears to be placed on her body before she is dragged away with her trousers by her ankles. The footgae can be viwed here.

Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaei of the National Black Police Association called for an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, saying that it was "absolutely" a concern that race may have been an issue. But he also said that, while the video looked "appalling" at first glance, it was acceptable for officers to use force of the kind seen if it was necessary to stop the person being arrested from harming themselves or someone else.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "These images turn the stomach and raise serious questions about police misconduct.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman and MP for Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg, said: "The violence in this footage is shocking, especially as it took place as several officers were holding down one woman."

To read more about this incident click here.

In regards to this issue the debate of whether the media are playing "the race card" or Ms Comer is actually a victim of "racial and/or police brutality" is being discussed, for example on Skynews Weblog with someone (who I am quite sure doesn't even know Ms Comer) claiming she "is a nasty piece of work and deserved the treatment she received".

Hannah Pool who writes for The Guardian presents a "black woman's perspective" on the incident and surrounding issues (clik here to read).


Patrick Mercer's comments (which some people regard as racist) has caused an upsurge in articles, blogs and forums discussing the issue of race in Britain.

On the Times Online Janice Taylor discusses and gives her opinion in her article "Look closely. We're all goin colour-blind" by affirming that race relations in Britain are better than they were for the older generation (to read more click the link above).

The Independent's website also has an article written by Robert Verkaik which discusses another two incidents which have fuelled the current race row, which is titled "Leading British institutions gripped by racism rows".

Saturday, 10 March 2007


Conservative frontbencher, Patrick Mercer was sacked yesterday over remarks that racial abuse was a normal part of army life; he claimed it is normal for a member of an ethnic minoritiy in the army to be dubbed a “black bastard” and that he "came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours". Although Mercer still has a position in Parliament as a backbencher he now has less power but will still serve his constituents.

Mercer’s statements infuriated ethnic minorities who accused him of racism. Whether his comments are racist is being debated in various blogs and forums however it is certain that his comments do not help the bridging of the gap between the ethnic minority community and the Conservative party.

Although Mercer has apologised and claims to have been misinterpreted and states: “I am very sorry if I have caused offence to the fantastic people who I commanded, many of whom were black and ethnic minorities”, the wider issue of the relationship between ethnic minorities and the Conservative party (which is not viewed as very open to ethnic minorities and also women) still persists. An article on the Guardian website discusses this further (click here to read).


Channel 4 will air The Last Slave, a programme where British born, David Monteith traces his ancestry back to Africa tomorrow evening at 8pm. The programme coincides with the 200th anniversary of the abolishment of the slave trade in Britain this year.

A memoir kept by David’s great, great, great grandfather, Archibald Monteith enables him to trace his background to Nigeria, Western Africa. Archibald was taken from his native African home to become a slave in Jamaica and he was one of the very few that were able to document their life story.

The Last Slave depicts David’s touching journey and reminds viewers of the harsh reality of the African slave trade and he explains: "I think the biggest way that Archie's story affects me is just to think that but for an accident of birth that could have been me. I'm black he was black, at that time you were probably a slave. That could have been me. And that thought goes through my head a lot".

The programme also reveals some shocking truths about slavery, how some Africans willingly sold others sometimes their own relatives as slaves. To find out more make sure you catch the programme tomorrow on Channel 4 at 8pm or click here for more information.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007


Today Ghana celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence from British colonial rule and the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) has launched an exciting heritage programme to join in the festivities. The BCA were awarded a £49,000 Your Heritage grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and they have also received support from London Borough of Lambeth.

BCA’s Ghana Jubilee will host exhibitions, lectures, oral history projects held by elder Ghanaians, youth events and family workshops in order to explore how Ghanaian and Ghanaians in the UK have impacted on British heritage.

BCA are collaborating with the Ghana High Commission and a range of institutions and community groups in London, including the British Museum, Royal Geographical Society and the School of Oriental and African Studies to deliver its Ghana Jubilee programme.

His Excellency Mr Annan Arkyin Cato Ghana High Commissioner to the United Kingdom said: "I am pleased to lend the support of my Office to the work of the Black Cultural Archives as it seeks to enrich the cultural landscape by disseminating Black heritage in the UK. I am hopeful that the contacts between the Ghana High Commission and the Black Cultural Archives will deepen and become even more productive and enriching during Ghana's Golden Jubilee celebrations."

Paul Reid - Director, Black Cultural Archives said: “BCA’s Ghana Jubilee season is a primeopportunity for our audiences to reflect on the legacy and structures of hope put in place by Independence movements in the late 50s and early 60s. We seek to enable communities to unite to commemorate Ghana’s landmark anniversary through our diverse programme of events. From March through to August 2007, BCA will create a variety of forums for independence memories, creative and intellectual expression and visual testimony.”

Thursday, 1 March 2007


It was reported today that campaigners dressed in yokes and chains, have started a 250 mile walk in order to apologise for the African slave trade and to end modern day slavery. About 20 people are taking part in the walk from Hull (home of William Wilberforce – abolitionist). This year marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery and this march highlights the debate of whether Britain should apologise for its involvement. Although the Prime Minister Tony Blair did issue a statement of “deep sorrow” some members of the black community expect a proper apology. However there are others that think an apology would be pointless.

What do YOU think?