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Britain Archives - Institute of the Black World 21st Century

David Comissiong

Ambassador David Comissiong’s most recent Address on Reparations

By Editors' Choice, Reparations

Address by Ambassador David Comissiong to the West and Central Africa Conference on the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent Organized by the United Nations Commission for Human Rights and the African Union Dakar, Senegal (23-24 October, 2019). In 1834, after 225 years of relentless rebellion by our enslaved ancestors, slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire: and the methodology devised by the British Government for the…

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Brexit Rally

From Brexit to El Paso: The Geopolitics of White Hate

By Commentaries/Opinions

By Sikivu Hutchinson, The Humanist — On the bustling streets of Kensington in London last week, one of the Black women I asked to comment on the recent election of Boris Johnson (who has been branded as Donald Trump’s British mini-me) vehemently declined. “I wouldn’t be able to without cussing,” she said, her response encapsulating the rage and distress Johnson’s election has elicited for progressive people of color. The backlash…

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When Franco Rosso’s “Babylon” premièred at Cannes, in 1980, it was hailed for its soulful depictions of a community largely invisible in British media.Photograph Courtesy Kino Lorber Repertory / Seventy-Seven

What “Babylon” Captured About Racism and Reggae

By Editors' Choice

By Hua Hsu, The New Yorker — In June, 1948, the H.M.T. Empire Windrush docked in the Port of Tilbury, near London. Among its passengers were approximately eight hundred West Indian workers, mostly from Jamaica, who had come in response to England’s postwar labor shortage. Some planned to earn money and return home; others wondered what it would be like to stay. There was a lot of work to be…

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Empire Windrush migrants arrive at Tilbury in 1948.

‘There were Africans in Britain before the English came here’

By Commentaries/Opinions, Reparations

How Staying Power shook British history. When it was published in 1984 Staying Power vividly captured the struggle for black British identity. Nearly 35 years on it still has lessons to teach. By Gary Younge, The Guardian — “The very serious function of racism is distraction,” Toni Morrison argued in a lecture in Portland, Oregon, in 1975: It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and…

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‘A reparative justice programme’ … Glasgow University has completed a two-year review of how it grew wealthy from the slave trade. Photograph: University of Glasgow

Reparations for slavery are not about punishing children for parents’ sins

By Editors' Choice, Reparations

Reparative justice, whereby communities are compensated for losses caused by the slavery or the Holocaust, is morally fair. By Julian Baggini, The Guardian — Justice requires a good memory, one that is both accurate and not self-servingly selective. But whether it is well-served by a long memory is more contentious. We know that many still pay the price for sins previous generations never paid for. But most agree with the…

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Picture courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center

£9.2 trillion drained from India during British rule, economist finds

By Commentaries/Opinions

“The modern capitalist world would not exist without colonialism and the drain,” says Indian economist Utsa Patnaik By Sean Bell, Common Space — BRITAIN impoverished India over the course of its colonial rule by a staggering £9.2 trillion, laying the groundwork for modern international capitalism and holding back present-day India’s ability to escape poverty, a leading Indian economist has claimed. Utsa Patnaik, Professor Emeritus at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for Economic…

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Imperial Federation Map of the World showing the extent of the British Empire. The Empire in red in 1886, by Walter Crane

British Empire is still being whitewashed by the school curriculum – historian on why this must change

By Editors' Choice

By Deana Heath, The Conversation — Jeremy Corbyn has recently proposed that British school children should be taught about the history of the realities of British imperialism and colonialism. This would include the history of people of colour as components of, and contributors to, the British nation-state – rather than simply as enslaved victims of it. As Corbyn rightly noted: “Black history is British history” – and hence its study should be…

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Slavery

London University Calls for £100m Slavery Reparation

By Reparations

Universities in the UK which benefited in previous centuries from the slave trade should contribute to a £100m fund to support ethnic minority students, says a university leader. By Sean Coughlan, BBC News — Geoff Thompson, chair of governors of the University of East London, says it would be “ethical and right” for universities to contribute. He says it would help young people who otherwise could not afford to graduate. Last…

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19th Century illustration of British massacres in India

An empire bathed in blood: when Britannia ruled the waves

By Reparations

In a desperate bid to head off a Scottish Yes vote, David Cameron evoked a mythical British Empire that had given democracy to the poor and freedom to the slaves. Here Ken Olende looks back at what life was really like when Britannia ruled the waves. By The Socialist Worker — The British Empire was the largest ever known. It covered a quarter of the world’s land mass and ruled…

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