Blacks Robbed of Their Place in History
books I AM amazed at the lengths white people will go to rather than accept the blame for what author Toni Morrison calls the 'psychic scar' of slavery which remains with black people of the diaspora to this day.
A new book - appearing in this bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade - describes the hundreds of thousands of 'white slaves', indentured servants who were also captive and the wretched white people who were transported to Australia. Among them were the poor who had stolen because they were hungry.
But, throughout my education, I never read of white people having their feet cut off to prevent them escaping. And if they did escape, it was easy enough for them to blend into the local towns as they were the same colour as the colonists.
We read about the Romans shipping ancient Britons to Rome because they admired their blond looks. African people were shipped because they were considered ugly.
I don't remember accounts of laws which made it punishable to teach white slaves to read. I don't recall hearing of white slaves who had their tongues cut out. Nor were we told of white slaves who were prevented from taking jobs because black slaves refused to work with them.
After abolition, were blacks able to work and support their families?
No: Chattel slavery meant that once a slave, anyone with a black face was meant to be a slave for ever.
White slaves weren't robbed of their history and customs, and told they were closer to monkeys. Even the most wretched white people were aware that they had a glorious history. They were brainwashed into believing they had a divine right to rule.
Their children weren't sold, never to be seen again. Slave women sometimes killed their children rather than have them live as slaves.
It can't be denied that indentured servants were raped and sometimes murdered, and Irish and Scots were sometimes treated as 'blacks'. When the Irish emigrated to America in the 19th century, they were at first classed as 'black' because they had come from grinding poverty.
To where can black people trace their families? To the auction block.
One of the excuses offered for slavery is that African chiefs sold their fellow men but those who open the argument with this statement usually know little else about black history. There was a lot of manipulation, selling guns to one tribe and not another, encouraging them to fight one another.
Slavery in Africa was more akin to slavery in Rome. Captives were able to learn a trade or later buy their freedom. This wasn't the type of slavery imposed by the British and Portuguese. African chiefs of the Ashante and other tribes made deputations to the British government about the treatment of their fellows.
William Wilberforce deserves credit. But little is mentioned about how black people fought continually for their freedom - in Jamaica, Haiti and America.
My schoolbooks spent several paragraphs explaining slavery and we could see other children thinking 'your ancestors were slaves'.
Even today, 'historians' tell us the Empire was the best thing that ever happened to Africa. If they said things like that about the Holocaust, there would be an outcry.
BARBARA JACKSON, London, NW2.
A Thatcher moment
IT SEEMS to me that Nicolas Sarkozy, France's presidential candidate, is one of the few politicians today who is unafraid to take over where Mrs Thatcher left off, as a conviction politician. He might turn out to be a political charlatan or demagogue - only time will tell - but his rhetoric and speeches can't fail to impress.
You can see why the French have turned out in big numbers to vote for him.
He addresses economics, social policy, immigration and national identity in the most forthright manner.
He's not afraid to engage with issues which had seemed the preserve of the Far-Right, but in a manner that has nothing to do with xenophobia or bigotry. …