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To better combat modern-day slavery and racism, Sadiq Khan has endorsed proposals for a British Slavery Museum in London.
The idea has been put forward by the Fabian Society who say such a museum will help address discrimination against London’s ethnic minorities by challenging centuries-old tropes about racial inferiority.
Such a proposal is “welcome and timely”, stated Mr Khan. “It’s right and fair that all Londoners see themselves and their history reflected in our city’s museums and cultural institutions.
“Learning more about the uncomfortable nature of our city and our nation’s role in the transatlantic slave trade can serve to deepen our understanding of the past and strengthen our commitment to fight racism and hatred in all its forms.”
It goes without saying that unless the UK looks at history in the face by coming to terms with its atrocities, it won’t be possible to get rid of current negative attitudes that fuel racial inequalities today. The British Government and London’s financial sector have a “moral obligation” to help fund a Slavery Museum.
Discourse around the British slave trade is dominated by the country’s role in its abolition, rather than its role in atrocities spanning more than 200 years!
In actual fact, its abolition did not come about because of Britain’s good heart.
Abolition only became possible because the Government paid an exorbitant amount of money to slave owners!
With the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 an astonishing £20 million (almost £20 billions in today's money), 40% of the Treasury's annual income was paid to slave owners. This meant that the British government had to take on a £15 million loan with banker Nathan Mayer Rothschild. The money was not paid back until 2015 (see Youmanity’s article here)
David Olusoga, historian and presenter of the BBC Two documentary, Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, endorsed the proposed museum. He said:
“Britain played a central role in the Atlantic slave trade and the fortunes built on the back of slavery flowed back to Britain. A new museum, in the heart of the city, would help us to acknowledge a history that for the most part is hidden in plain sight.”
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