Sugar and Slavery: Museum of London (Docklands) (11.2.2017)

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London, Sugar and Slavery

Despite the manner in which a succession of rightwing UK national governments treat their people (through the ideologically led policies of ‘Austerity’), the UK as a nation is one of the richest countries in the world. This has happened over the last four hundred years primarily due to its trade in African slaves and sugar. The despicably named ‘Golden Triangle’ was as simple as it was barbaric. British ships would bring sugar to the UK from the West Indies, and swap the sugar for steel chains and iron collars manufactured in Sheffield. The ships full of chains would then sail for Africa where the chains were used to imprison untold millions of African men, women and children in the most brutal and barbaric of manners, who were loaded onto the ‘slave’ ships and kidnapped to the West Indies. Once at the West Indies, the ‘new’ slaves would be exchanged for sugar harvest already gathered by existing slaves – and the cycle of human abuse and capitalist accumulation began yet again. Not only were Africans stripped of their languages, religions and cultures, their bodies were also subject to various sadistic tortures and sexual abuse. Slaves either complied to the whims of their ‘White’ masters, or paid the price with life and limb. This historical experience of systematic and prolonged psychological, emotional and physical abuse still linger-on, and continue to effect the descendants of those slaves today, in populations spread throughout the world. What is sadly interesting to note is that ‘White’ racists are by and large the descendants of the original ‘White’ slavers that got rich on Black suffering, and who continue the slave tradition of psychologically and physically abusing Black people today (including racially motivated murder). Racism is a disease, and like a disease, White people should work together to stamp it out. This is a White problem that requires the White community to recognise it as a ‘disease’ and formulate an effective ‘treatment’. This exhibition at the Museum of London (Docklands) is superb and one of the best exposures of slavery and racism that I have ever seen. All school children in the UK should visit this exhibition as a means of ‘inoculating’ the next generation against the racism of past generations. If you do visit, be prepared to be over-whelmed by the suffering of Africans which is not disguised or obscured. Be over-whelmed by the ‘White’ callousness of nature that put profit before humanity, but also be over-whelmed by one more thing – the British people who designed this exhibition (some of whom may well be White) fully admitting and regretting the barbaric actions of their fore-fathers.

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