Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bicentenary of the End of the Transatlantic Trade

Wow! They have actually let me onto my blog for the first time in ages! I think it is really terrible that Blogger have still not sorted out their difficulties so I was effectively gagged on this historic occasion.

We know that the 1807 Bill did not end the enslavement of our ancestors. Still, it was an historic decision.

On Friday, I attended a panel discussion on Women in Abolition at Yaa Asantewa Arts Centre. It was excellent. The one white woman on the panel stated that, just as we have internalised racism, white people have internalised white supremacy. They are unaware that they believe that we are inferior to them, but everything they say and do points to the fact that they do believe this. It was very refreshing to hear a white person state this so baldly.

One of the sistahs on the panel had a slide show presentation about the horrors of slavery - what women endured and how they resisted. It was moving, upsetting and inspiring. I am always upset by specific examples of the sheer brutality that our ancestors were subjected to and, as she pointed out, men and women were 'equal under the lash'. See also, Soul Survivors.

Men, however, did not have to cope with menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth on top of the brutality and cruelty they suffered.

I had also watched Moira Stuart's programme - if you didn't see it, definitely watch it on Friday night on BBC2. As it is on late, you may want to tape it - it is definitely worth seeing.

On Sunday, I led writing workshops at the V&A, responding to some of the objects in their collection which relate to the Transatlantic trade. You can have your say on their website:

Uncomfortable Truths Discussion Board

I will definitely be posting my comments there. I was very choked up by the end of the Sunday event, thinking about what our ancestors endured. Listening to songs such as 'Jump Down Turn Around Pick a Bale of Cotton' , which we used to sing as children in New York. Seeing this brilliant African Gospel dance group and being reminded once again that our culture was stolen from us.

We need to know our history in order to know where we are going. A lot of the artists on my Kuumba-Survivors website at have stated that when they saw Roots for the first time, it had a profound effect on them. It helped them to understand our place in Western society as people of African heritage. And Rene Carayol MBE, who is one of the people interviewed in Black Success Stories, also says he saw the effect Roots had on African American sailors whose ships docked in Gambia.

In addition, we must examine the long-term effects of our ancestors' experience, which has been passed down from one generation to the next and still has devastating consequences for our families and our community as a whole.

Saturday sees the launch of the Black Parents' Forum - stand up and be counted! Henry Bonsu will be discussing this on his radio programme on drivetime this afternoon.

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