Reparations 2019 ?
Today, I heard a news item on BBC Radio 4 and reported in Guardian both of which covered the news that Cambridge University intend to investigate its links with ‘the slave trade’. I was outraged at yet another example of ignoring the existence of Black people bringing up this topic before this statement but being written out of history. I speak specifically at the work that the late Bernie Grant MP and others in the Africa Reparations Movement did in the 1990’s.
Leaving aside the apparent ignorance of the BBC on this matter, how is it that Cambridge University could take so long to hear the demands of Black students and scholars? Perhaps it is the same inability to hear our voices that underpins the ways that Black achievements except in sport or entertainment are consistently ignored or forgotten? Black History Month was created in 1987 to encourage scholarship and acknowledgement of the role that slavery played in creating wealth in the UK(and elsewhere in Europe and the USA).
Black History Month ( BHM) was not taken seriously , this is surely indicative of a culture of the racism, which continues to sees Black people only as musicians, athletes and more recently Actors whether we come from the Continent of Africa or Islands that were colonised to support Enslavement, we are still seen as a people without a History.
Reparations does not merely demand money for the enslavement and deaths of millions of African people, more significantly we sought ‘repair’ of Africa and repair to Africans. Scholarship has an important place in that repair but to say that it is about the ‘trade’ in Africans is surely to ignore the legacy that was left. That is why some of us still demand accurate scholarship and the rewriting of British history to acknowledge the part that enslavement and colonisation played in British (and European) wealth.