As I and others have argued before, one reason that British people feel complacent about Britain’s role in pioneering slavery, and the racism that underpinned it, is that it happened slightly farther away. The Caribbean is Britain’s own Deep South, where enslavement and segregation as brutal as anything that existed on American soil took place at the hands of British people.
The islands were worse than the US. We can even prove this. The survival rate for slaves was higher in the US. As was the birth rate, as also the child survival rate.
Yes, I do know this “natural increase” was an argument used by Jefferson Davis among others. Still true though. The sugar islands were vastly worse for slaves than mainland USA.
It’s true that the country’s treatment of people descended from this history could not be more shameful. From the institutionalised racism they experienced fighting for Britain in both world wars, to the attempts to deport members of the Windrush generation just last year, they have endured the worst of what Britain has had to offer.
But this campaign is not requesting a favour for a marginal section of society. The history of how we came to be this nation is a history for us all. If we can’t dignify it with a simple memorial, one whose location, design, importance and even planning permission have already been established, then we really have lost the plot.
• Afua Hirsch is a Guardian columnist
Afua is also, apparently, descended from an Akan mother.
Akan states waged wars on neighboring states in their geographic area to capture people and sell them as slaves to Europeans
A little less of the whitey is responsible for everything perhaps?