I’ve been wanting to write something about the riots since they started.
But sitting here cocooned in my white privilege I don’t have the right to say anything.
So instead I’m trying to imagine what life would be like now if those first European explorers setting foot on lands that were new to them had said ‘Hi, we were just passing.’ instead of ‘This is ours now.’
If they’d had the imagination to see people who were different as still being fundamentally the same in so very many ways.
If they’d had the ability to realise that they were the ones who were, in fact, ‘different’ in that place and at that time. If they’d had just the tiniest bit of humility. If they’d stopped even for a moment and thought about what they were doing.
I’m trying to imagine what life would be like now if those early sea captains arriving on the west coast of Africa and finding that slavery was already commonplace had said ‘Hang on a minute’ instead of ‘Let’s ship them to America’.
If those early plantation owners had said ‘No, thanks.’ If those first consumers of cheap sugar, tobacco and cotton here in the UK had just been a little bit curious about how it could be so cheap.
For the slave trade to develop and then to continue for 300 years, an awful lot of good people had to do nothing.
And it’s still only 187 years since slavery was abolished. It’s only 187 years since it was perfectly legal to buy and sell a human.
We can’t change it. We can’t change history. But we can think about it. We can reappraise it.
We can accept that our interpretation of it needs to change. It needs to become more sophisticated. We need to stop seeing historical figures in terms of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ and accept that things are much more complicated than that. We need to be prepared to tell the whole story.
And we need to stop doing nothing.
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