Well, yes, there’s black and there’s black

Story of forgotten black Medici ruler is told in new short film
Daphne Di Cinto’s period drama Il Moro focuses on the son of a servant who became the Duke of Florence

Il Moro” rather gives the game away there. Medieval Europeans were well aware of the difference between North and sub-Saharan Africa as a source of people and genetics. They were still pretty hazy on much of the geography of course, but that racial difference was well known. To the extent that one group were called Moors, the other Aethiopes and the like. Not that Aethiopes are in fact racially to be grouped with sub-Saharans etc but still.

Today “black” means those sub-Saharans.

Now, it is possible that the servant mother of this illegitimate child – who then inherited – was an Aethiope but that’s certainly not the way to bet. But then that wouldn’t suit the story being told here, would it?

History matters

Err, no:

Job-linked benefits like health insurance rose during World War II, when inflation made employers reluctant to raise wages — so they added benefits instead. “Perks” like health care were also a way to keep workers happy so they wouldn’t leave.

The wage controls designed to curb the inflation (Hah!) meant that wages couldn’t be raised but perks could be.


Carter has been interested in monks and their digestion since visiting Kirkstall Abbey on the outskirts of Leeds and seeing the surviving latrines. “I remember being fascinated by the idea of it being a 900-year-old monastic toilet block,” he said.

Was he an odd child? “There wasn’t an awful lot to do on Sunday afternoons in the 1970s.”

That’s one answer to the long dark teatime of the soul.

Hmm, well, yes

Magna Carta isn’t actually the law of England (and Wales):

A group of about 20 protesters entered Edinburgh Castle on Tuesday evening, claiming to have “seized” the landmark under article 61 of Magna Carta.

Members of the public were evacuated as the demonstrators entered the grounds of the castle without a ticket. Police Scotland said that officers were dealing with the protest.

Reports emerged at about 5.45pm of an incident close to the entrance to the Museum of The Royal Regiment for Scotland.

The protesters filmed their protest on Facebook Live. In a 13-minute video, a woman says the castle “belongs to the people” and that they are “taking our power back”. She adds the Scottish people have been “lied to all our lives” and that the “building belongs to us, we have taken the castle back” in an effort to “restore the rule of law”.

Further, Scotland has its own legal system. And it wasn’t the same country as England and Wales when Magna Carta was signed. Sure, it isn’t now but it definitely wasn’t then.

So I think we’ll put this legal gambit down as a hiding to nothing, shall we?

How weird

Madam Butterfly will be re-examined through the lens of and slavery and colonialism, with ticketholders to a new production offered accompanying lectures on the opera’s “imperialist” themes.

Welsh National Opera (WNO) will run a series of lectures on Puccini’s 1904 work about an American naval officer marrying 15-year-old geisha Cio-Cio-San, saying the story raises issues of “imperialism and colonialism”.

Despite Puccini’s Japanese setting – and the opera being reimagined in a dystopian future by WNO – the company will host a talk on “the long arm of imperialism” discussing “how the UK is still shaped by its past”.

Japan being one of those few places which never was occupied by western imperialism. Or perhaps they’re going to talk about Japanese imperialism, of which there was quite a lot?

Because this has been happening for a couple of centuries now

While there’s British interference, there’s going to be action’: why a hardcore of dissident Irish republicans are not giving up

It’s been happening since Wolfe Tone and Young Ireland and all the rest. Probably before that back to the Vikings in Dublin.

Get up enough head of steam to revolt against the oppressors and carry enough of the population with you. So, concessions are made. Repeal the Anti-Catholic Laws, or legalise Erse, or partition, or whichever of those concessions over time you want to think about.

This peels off some large portion of the rebellious who go back to some sort of acceptance of this new status quo. And leaves the radical fringe still shouting. Who then gain, grain by grain, support for their more radical demands and we get to a large enough portion of the population that another set of concessions are made.

Thus the IRA, The Official IRA, the Provisional IRA, the INLA, the Continuity IRA, the 32 County lads and on and on.

Been happening for centuries. It’ll also continue if as and when there’s the one state on the island of Ireland, there will be those out there with the Armalites shooting for a properly socialist state, or for the Pol Pot solution, or invading England in search of reparations. Because there are always those sufficiently disatisfied enough with the society around them to take up arms. This not being a specifically Irish problem, you can round up a few nutters in any society.

South Africa

A group of armed locals did manage to defend a nearby gun and ammunition shop, and may well have saved lives by doing so.

But the town’s police force were completely overwhelmed. By Monday evening they had exhausted their supply of rubber bullets and were running low on live rounds, relying on donations from local civilians for ammunition.

A century and a bit back when the British rozzers were chasing some anarchists (Lithuanian, Latvian?) through London they borrowed pistols off the passing crowd….

An evil truth

So, this infamy of colonialisation, massacre of the native peoples:

Moreover, callous disrespect for native culture cannot be equated with the deliberate genocidal events that mar the pasts of many countries. In world-historical terms, Canada’s record is among the best.

A truth, however evil it is, is that the less effective the genocide the greater the current furore about it.

No, not saying that First Nations in Canada were well and wondrously treated. But the genocide of the Patagonian Indians was in fact effective. Which is why there’s no shouting about it now – there’re none left to be shouting. The same could be said of Cape Hottentots.

Or even, given that there’s near no identifiably of sub-Saharan origin population in the Arab world there’s not the same focus upon the slave trade as there is where some 13% of the population are so descended – like in the US. Despite the numbers enslaved and moved being roughly similar. One enslaved population propagated, the other didn’t, which explains the difference in current consideration.

It’s an evil observation but it’s also true.

Ignorant tosspottery

As the historian William Dalrymple has observed: “The economic figures speak for themselves. In 1600, when the East India Company was founded, Britain was generating 1.8% of the world’s GDP, while India was producing 22.5%. By the peak of the Raj, those figures had more or less been reversed: India was reduced from the world’s leading manufacturing nation to a symbol of famine and deprivation.”

The thing is, Amartya Sen knows better than this. The Indian economy didn’t decline. GDP per capita stayed – roughly enough – static. Population soared. Therefore total GDP rose. It’s that GDP elsewhere in the world rose more.

What fun

Bronze Woman is one of more than 120 monuments, plaques, murals, statues and artworks in a new pocket-size guidebook, Black London, compiled by Nanton and her co-author Jody Burton, and published on Windrush Day on Tuesday.

The oldest entry is Cleopatra’s Needle, an obelisk carved in Egypt more than 3,500 years ago and shipped to London in 1878 to be placed on the Embankment.

That’s not really black now, is it? Thutmose III would have been horrified if you’d called him black – that was those Nubians upriver. Mohammed Ali who gave it to us was Albanian. Cleo herself was Greek (or Amanda Barrie).

Come along now, we’re Europeans, we know a bit of geography. African ≠ Black.

Seriously, let’s not become American about this.

History, history…..

Blenheim gave a home to 400 evacuees during the war, but it is also a monument to an aristocratic and colonial past. How much of a student of English history have you been over the years?

Hmm, dunno really. Blenheim? Colonialism?

Not really sure what the subsequent Dukes did but the original grant, and the house, was for beating up on the French, wasn’t it? Which isn’t colonialism, that’s just the correct attitude to the European Union.

This is pretty good

But every night when she went to sleep, her father would recount stories of her grandmother’s life. Harriet Thorpe was born into slavery 100 years earlier, in 1860, and was the “property”, she was told, of one Squire Sweeney in Howard County, Missouri.

“He told me about her struggles and how she still thrived in the face of them – she became a role model for me,” says Hall. “I wished I could go back in time and meet her.”

She couldn’t, but Hall was so inspired by Thorpe’s bravery that years later she found herself delving back in time, determined to uncover the untold stories of enslaved African women, just like Harriet, who fought their oppressors on slave ships, in plantations and across the Americas.

How much fighting was she doing before freedom at the age of five?

Just a small thought

Olusoga is a Yoruba name. The Yoruba were not all slave traders, of course not, some of them became slaves. But it is true that some certain number of Yoruba were slavers, selling peeps from further inland to the ships.

Of course, go back enough centuries and we’re near all – certainly, people with any attachment to place are with the others of that place – tenth and twelfth cousins. But it is still true that as someone that one generation removed from Yorubaland that David Olugosa is more likely than I am – or perhaps you – to have a recent ancestor who was a slave trader.

The same would probably be true of Afua Hirsch with her Akan roots, of Nesrine Malik as an Arab Sundanese.

Wouldn’t it be fun if there were a “Who do you think you are?” investigation into those three sets of roots? You know, given how they do insist that slavery is the ineradicable sin upon an ancestry line?

Rick Santorum is in fact correct here

Not that I’m generally in favour of Rick Santorum but here he is correct:

The former US senator and CNN political commentator Rick Santorum has sparked outrage among Native Americans, and prompted calls for his dismissal, by telling a rightwing students’ conference that European colonists who came to America “birthed a nation from nothing”.

“There was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” Santorum told the ultra-conservative Young America’s Foundation’s summit, entitled standing up for faith and freedom, and shared by the group to YouTube.

“We came here and created a blank slate, we birthed a nation from nothing,” he said.

Santorum’s comments, effectively dismissing the millennia-long presence of Native Americans and the genocide inflicted on them as the Christian settlers transformed and expanded their colonies into the United States of America, angered many within the Native American community, and beyond.

Now, whether what were to become Americans should have treated the place largely as a blank slate is another matter. So too whether current American society should pay more attention to, retain more of, Native American culture. But the fact is they did and currently it doesn’t.

In what he said he’s correct that is. Must be why it’s getting up so many noses……

If only we believed you

This could not be further from the truth. We don’t want to erase history. We want to tell it honestly. Until we are able to do this, we will be unable to properly understand the present.

The thing is Mr. Lammy we believe you want to mistell us history in order to make us misunderstand the present.

Wilful ignorance of Britain’s colonial past in part explains the refusal by Boris Johnson’s government to accept the existence of institutional racism in modern Britain.


Umm, guys, really now

Perhaps just as significantly, the study allows scientists to peer into the past of the Americas prior to the horrors of European colonization — which, due to genocide, violence and forced resettlement, marred our ability to study human migration.

Europeans climbing all over the Americas is human migration. True, advances into terra nullius have happened. But other than that human migration has meant genocide, violence and so on.

The Neolithic inhabitants of England fell to the Celts, the Saxons to the Normans. The Twa and Khoi San to the Bantus in Central and Southern Africa. The Ainu to the Japanese, there are autocthones in Taiwan. The Hindu caste system sets in place the Aryan (?) conquering of the south of India. And on and on and on.

America is different in details but not in kind……

Something I look forward to

“I wanted to prove them wrong, that in fact they are the origin story and that United States racism is just the continuation of a long history of Eurocentric domination,” he told the Guardian via phone from Paris. “If Baldwin’s words are not sufficient to understand what it is about, what else can? I felt the need to even go to a broader scope of the story of racism and white supremacy.”

His new HBO series Exterminate All the Brutes is a sweeping journey back through some of the most horrific moments in civilization over the past half-millennium to trace the roots of humanity’s worst impulses: genocide, slavery, fascism, white supremacy, colonialism. Written, directed and narrated by Peck, the four-hour series (pruned down from 15 episodes) is scaffolded by the ideas of three cornerstone texts: Sven Lindqvist’s Exterminate All the Brutes (examining Europe’s genocidal colonization of Africa), Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (the first history of the country told from the perspective of indigenous peoples) and Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past (an analysis of power and silence in history, focusing on Haitian history). The work of the three authors, who are credited in the opening titles, serves as a lodestar in the same way Baldwin’s writing did in I Am Not Your Negro.

The documentary looking at the Bantu expansion out of West Africa. With a certain concentration upon the experiences of the Khoi San, the Bambenga and so on. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

The story of an Iron Age and farming people taking over the lands of the previous Neolithic inhabitants?

D’ye think Channel 4 might fund it?

David Olusoga needs to be a bit careful here

It is the fact that the histories of slavery and empire are becoming mainstream, and that young people are entirely comfortable with the reality that “profit and suffering” were at the centre of both, that appears to disturb the authors and the government whose agenda they have so faithfully served. Determined to privilege comforting national myths over hard historical truths, they give the impression of being people who would prefer this history to be brushed back under the carpet.

The historical illiteracy and internal inconsistencies do not stop there. The report argues that young black people should reclaim their British heritage. Which is exactly what black British people have been doing, by recovering the contributions of their ancestors to British history and culture. Yet the report crudely characterises those struggles to bring marginalised black figures and communities into the mainstream of British history as “token expressions of black achievement” – a poisonously patronising phrase.

Well, yes. Except “black britons” are, roughly enough, 3% of the current population. Given that in 1945 the black population was some 8,000 to 10,000 people the current number is roughly equally divided, 1.5% of total population each, between afrocaribbeans and black africans – all of whom are British.

Meaning that the ancestral connection with slavery for black britons is roughly equally divided between those whose folks were selling peeps to the wipipo and those peeps who were sold to the wipipo. It’s gonna be difficult to have a single experience out of that really.

There’s a certain stirring under St Paul’s

A long standing tradition – which I’ve just invented – is that in the country’s hour of need Nelson will rise again, take Victory to sea and smash the French.


Bit like Arthur under that hill just more specific and necessary.

British taxpayers have invested millions of pounds into a Dutch vaccine factory at the centre of a threatened blockade by the European Commission, The Telegraph can disclose.

The Halix factory in Leiden was equipped to produce doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, approved a major investment last April.

The money – reported to be in the region of £21 million

Not only do we have a contract to gain access to the vaccines built at that factory we actually paid to build the factory itself.

But Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, warned that “zero” jabs would be sent to the UK until AstraZeneca had fulfilled its commitments to Brussels, even after Germany suspended routine use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged below 60 because of fears of rare blood clots.

“If [AstraZeneca] does more, we don’t have any issue, but as long as it doesn’t deliver its commitment to us, the doses stay in Europe,” Mr Breton said. “There is no negotiation.”

That black marble sarcophagus is moving, the spectral sailors are arriving in Portsmouth.

We have faced problems with the French before of course, matters that could have been solved by the return of the Horatio, but he never did. Why?

Well, if you’d been pickled in brandy for a couple of centuries you’d make sure your return and passage through that hangover was damn well worth it, wouldn’t you?