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PART 2 – (listen to Part 1 here)

Nanny of the Maroons was a legendary warrior and is one of Jamaica’s national heroes. She led a community of formerly enslaved Africans in the early 18th century and fought a guerrilla war over the course of a decade against British authorities who had colonised Jamaica.

In April 1740, and after suffering great losses, the British signed a peace treaty with Nanny to end the hostilities. The treaty provided for state sanctioned freedom for the Maroons and granted 500 acres of land to Nanny and her followers. Despite leading over a thousand slaves to freedom during her war with the British, a condition of the peace treaty demanded that Nanny and her forces would be called upon by the British to help capture and return runaway slaves to the plantations on the island.

And so, adversaries became collaborators.

This crucial element of slavery and colonialism ensured its success and leaves a legacy of disunity between people of African descent which they continue to reckon with 400 years later.

Slavery was maintained by more than just brutality, pain and torture. It employed a systematic destruction of any individual identity of worth, disabused you of any shared sense of community you might have otherwise harboured and enforced structures of hierarchy within disenfranchised peoples. It disincentivised unity within its systems of subjugation by ensuring there were some who were granted just enough privilege to feel as though they had something to lose through rebellion and set them at odds with those who had no privilege at all.

In May 2018, US rapper Kanye West, made some controversial comments suggesting that enslaved Africans made a ‘choice’ to remain enslaved. While his words speak to a hidden truth, his articulation of it caused a great deal of hurt and furore. It was a clumsy and inaccurate attempt to elucidate how these structures of slavery and colonialism could have remained intact for so long. It is something this article does a much better job in describing – https://aeon.co/ideas/how-did-slaveholders-in-the-caribbean-maintain-control

While the article focuses primarily on the era of chattle slavery, it also describes in less overt ways how white supremacy persists in the minds of many who are of African descent. It rationalises the enduring nature of self-hatred, the aspiration for ideals rooted in whiteness, the disunity among the diaspora and the rejection of our African heritage as expressions of our shared trauma.

Reflecting on the BLM protests which took place last year where people across the globe mobilised en masse, we now ask the question, “what next?” Clearly mobilising, while a powerful statement of intent, on its own is not enough to effect real and lasting change. Conversations still rage on as to whether or not racism, white privilege and systemic issues actually exist.

On this episode, I continue my conversation with Lewis as we talk about what the zenith of this sort of activism needs to look like. The answer can be summed up in a single word… Organisation. Its the dismantling of white supremacy in our minds and a concerted effort to build a sustainable legacy of black empowerment.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

References:

Why it’s so hard to talk about the N-word | Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor: https://youtu.be/CVPl8jRaAqM

When The British Built Concentration Camps in Kenya: https://medium.com/all-history-and-no-play/when-the-british-built-concentration-camps-in-kenya-5a92bb7336f0

Jane Elliott Classroom Lecture Experiment Being Black: https://youtu.be/XYp5xkqTUjQ

Black Boys Viewed as Older, Less Innocent Than Whites: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/03/black-boys-older

Doll Test: https://youtu.be/tkpUyB2xgTM

Photo by Matthew Lancaster on Unsplash

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THIS IS PART 1 OF A TWO-PART SERIES… (click here for part 2)

I recently took a DNA test.

While I have always been extremely proud of my Jamaican heritage, there is a whole other part of my history that was stolen from me and erased. I am in diaspora; part of a scattered population whose origin lies in a separate geographic locale. While I have always been aware of the fact my ancestors were trafficked from Africa and forced to labour under brutal conditions entirely for the benefit of the British Empire, who they were and where they came from has always been completely unknown to me. I, like so many other individuals of African descent, suffer from a disconnected sense of identity.

The DNA test was as much about finding out where my ancestors came from as it was an attempt to reclaim a connection to the hidden parts of my identity that were stolen away long before I was ever born.

Lewis Persaud recently penned an article titled, “Griots: The importance of documentation” (click here), where he writes about the crucial role they played in preserving the history of many West African societies. He argues that it was this very connection to their rich history which helped to maintain these ancient cultures, and as people of African descent, it is through “retaining a sense of self in a world designed to strip you of it…” that we begin the process of building a strong and stable community.

Lewis and I recorded this episode at the end of last summer in the wake of the global outrage which erupted following the death of George Floyd. Several other extrajudicial killings of black people and racially charged incidents prior had stoked the flames of discontent for many and kickstarted a wave of Black Lives Matter protests all over the world. One of those incidents was the slaying of Ahmaud Marquez Arbery who was hunted down and executed in the street of a suburban Georgia neighbourhood by three white men. It took 74 days for his killers’ arrest, and only after the video of his killing went viral.

It is now exactly one week shy of a year since Ahmaud was killed, and his family continue their wait for justice.

It also currently happens to be Black History Month in the United States. And with the recent news of one Utah school originally agreeing to parents’ demand to exempt their children from taking part in Black History Month learning before backtracking after a backlash on social media, the question I ask is, what happens now that the protests have ended? What do we need to do as a people to move this fight forward?

I think the beginnings of an answer lies in first grounding ourselves in a strong sense of identity, because as Marcus Garvey once exclaimed and as illustrated so beautifully by Lewis in his article, a “people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”.

On this episode, Lewis and I talk about reclaiming our identities, the true nature of racism and what is required in dismantling the structures it has built.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

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In the midst of a wave of Black Lives Matter protests that swept the globe in 2020, last August marked the second annual Black Pound Day; its aim being to encourage support from people to buy from Black-owned companies (both local to them and online).The power of black and other ethnic consumers represents a significant proportion of the marketplace with an estimated spending power of £300 billion per year in the UK.

While black people are avid consumers, we generate and hold very little wealth comparatively speaking. A recent report by the Runnymede Trust titled, The Colour of Money: How racial inequalities obstruct a fair and resilient economy, highlighted this fact.

Kenroy Malcolm is an aspiring property investor and runs a YouTube channel where he provides tips and tricks to help his viewers save money as well as charting his own wealth-building journey. He is part of a small minority of black content creators in the personal finance space online who are keen to inspire and encourage others

On this episode, Kenroy and I talk about why wealth-building is not just important, but an essential part of creating economic freedom. We also talk about his own personal finance journey and his inspiration for YouTube.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

I’m angry. I’m hurt. But mostly, I’m tired. I’m tired of the platitudes, the calls for peace and unity. I’m tired of the thoughts and prayers at times like these. I’m tired of watching and reading about another black person murdered in their home, in their car, at the grocery store, in the park… just going about their normal lives. I’m tired of the silence and inaction of white people and their failure to confront and throw out the giant white supremacy elephant in the room.

If you’re a white person reading this and it makes you uncomfortable, then I’m glad, I hope it stirs you into action. If you feel attacked, then use some of that righteous indignation to defend those in society who need defending most.

The thing the #AllLivesMatter brigade refuse fails to acknowledge is that all lives don’t matter. Not really. Some lives matter more than others. The lives of the police officers who shoot first and ask questions later matter. The Amy Coopers who are quick to call the police on their black neighbours for occupying the same space as them, their lives matter. The people who are okay with seeing children imprisoned in cages because their parents had the audacity to want a better life for them, their lives matter. But you know who’s lives didn’t matter?

George Floyd, aged 46, he wrote a cheque in the grocery store and was killed as a result moments later.

Ahmaud Arbery, aged 25, was killed when he went for a jog in his neighbourhood.

Botham Jean, aged 26, was killed while he sat in his apartment watching tv and eating ice cream in his underwear.

Alton Sterling, aged 37, was killed because he was selling CDs.

Atatiana Jefferson, aged 28, was killed while playing video games at home with her nephew.

Breonna Taylor, aged 26, was killed while she slept in bed with her boyfriend.

Trayvon Martin, aged 17, was killed because wore a hoody and ate Skittles.

Renisha McBride, aged 19, was killed because asked for help after a car accident.

Tamir Rice, aged 12, was killed because he was playing cops and robbers in the park.

Philando Castile, aged 32, was killed in front of his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter because he told a police officer he had a licensed firearm with him.

Freddie Gray, aged 25, was beaten so badly he suffered an internal decapitation following an illegal arrest.

Eric Garner, aged 43, was killed because he was selling cigarettes.

Walter Scott, aged 50, was killed because he had a broken brake light.

Michael Brown Jr., aged 18, was killed while he walked in the middle of the street.

John Crawford III, aged 22, was killed while shopping at Walmart.

Samuel DuBose, aged 43, was killed because he was missing a front license plate.

Jamar Clark, aged 22, was killed after he broke up a fight between his girlfriend and another woman.

Terence Crutcher, aged 40, was killed because he got high.

The list goes on… All killed despite posing absolutely no threat to the authorities or those around them.

#BlackLivesMatter exists because the despicable reality is that you need reminding.

Let’s be honest with each other for a moment… white people have fought, lobbied, protested, rallied against and rejected social injustices when it mattered to them. Gay rights, gender equality, sexual assault. They didn’t let up until real, lasting change occurred. Black people were, and continue to protest alongside you on these issues too.

But where is the white activism for reforming the judicial and prison systems? Where is the white activism against healthcare inequality? Where is the white activism for education funding reform? Where is the white activism against housing discrimination, tokenism, the use of racial profiling in policing, anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric? Where is the white activism for dismantling these structures that maintain and perpetuate white supremacy? Where is it??

The pockets of a few dozen, or a few hundreds or even a few tens of thousands are but a drop in the ocean when a few tens of millions remain silent.

If you are a white person who doesn’t put the same energy or passion into calling out and protesting against the casual slaying of black people as you do when you confront homophobia, or sexism, or misogyny, or sexual abuse, then you should definitely ask yourself, “why?”. I’d suggest it’s because all lives really don’t matter as much as you say they do.

This is the true face of racism. It’s not the N-word, or the KKK burning crosses into black folks’ lawns. It’s not graffitied swastikas, blackface, or even the racial slurs. Those things reside in the corners of life and are enacted by a depraved minority. The true face of racism is the white silence. It’s the knowledge of a deeply unequal society and the absence of will to change it. It lives in the “I don’t see colour” remarks, the spurious claims of reverse racism and the denials of white privilege. And it thrives in the ignorance of middle-class suburbia, the meritocracy myths and the assumptions that good intentions are enough.

“The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid.”

The New Jim Crow

Let that sink in.

Talking about unity, togetherness and peace ultimately solves nothing. Our society was founded on the broken bodies and discarded corpses of people of colour. An entire group of people continue to exist as little more than commodities especially because of society’s success in dehumanising them. At worst, we are mindless and uncivilised thugs, and at best, a select few of us are ‘exceptional individuals who are a credit to our race’… People see videos like the senseless murder of George Floyd and make remarks like, “I can’t believe this is still happening in 2020”. Why can’t you believe it? What have you done to change it?

The racism of slavery and Jim Crow never went away, it just became better packaged and more insidious. Segregation, voter suppression, redlining, mass incarceration, discriminatory lending, Eurocentric school curriculums, the racial inequities in access to public spaces and public goods… the fear of people of colour.

I watched the video of George Floyd being killed. I watched as he pleaded for his life. I watched as his struggle faded and he lay there lifeless – still pinned under an officer’s knee. For ten minutes, I watched as one human being slowly killed another. What I found most reprehensible was the officer’s evident sense of justification, apparently empowered by the system he serves to carry out such an act with the world as his audience. It was the casual way in which he took someone’s life that broke me and the millions of others who watched the video. That officer would have felt George’s struggle to cling to life end, but he remained unmoved and undeterred.

George’s life was so easily snuffed out because the parts of society where power and privilege reside didn’t see him as a whole human being. It saw him as a threat. A mindless, uncivilised thug who needed to be brought under control at any cost. Unfortunately for George and too many others that look like him, the cost was his life.

Platitudes and kind words are not enough to right this ship, it needs to be razed to the ground. It needs the voices of the silent tens of millions demanding change. It needs their sweat, blood and tears invested in the hard work of holding the men and women in power to account.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

It needs them to be part of the solution.

If that’s you, then you can start here: George Floyd: How can I help? and here: For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies

Image by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash