Sei sulla pagina 1di 1
THE METROPOLITAN • PAGE 18 • ANDREW FLOHR-SPENCE • SPENCAND@MSCD.EDU

THE METROPOLITAN • PAGE 18 • ANDREW FLOHR-SPENCE • SPENCAND@MSCD.EDU

Insight

Insight
Insight

Woman must not depend upon the

protection of man, but must be taught to

protect herself.

SUSAN B. ANTHONY

Conor Drummond • cdrummon@mscd.edu

” SUSAN B. ANTHONY Conor Drummond • cdrummon@mscd.edu Slaving over a hot reparation A 39-year-old African

Slaving over a hot reparation

A 39-year-old African British man stood in front of the queen of England and told the mon- arch she should be ashamed. Nearly an hour into a commemoration cer- emony in Westminster Abbey last week marking 200 years since England’s abolition of the slave trade, Toyin Agbetu walked up to the altar and told the gathering of Britain’s most notables what he thought about the day’s meaning. “We should not be here,” he said. “This is an insult to us. I want all the Christians who are Africans to walk out of here with me.” Slavery, the protesters point out, wasn’t abolished in 1807, merely the trade in slaves. It wasn’t until 1833 that holding slaves was made illegal in Britain. The 1807 date was a false promise and should be remembered as such. Agbetu, a 39-year-old founder of the African British human rights organization Ligali, stood only a dozen feet from where Queen Elizabeth II, Tony Blair, Prince Philip, the Archbishop of Can- terbury and others sat. He faced them when he spoke. At least, he did until the security reacted. According to an article by David Smith of the Guardian Unlimited, who witnessed the scene firsthand, the queen “watched with pursed lips the Duke of Edinburgh frowned” and “Mr. Blair watched with dismay as if already prepar- ing a speech about this ‘regrettable incident.’” Despite the guests’ cold reaction to the out- burst, Agbetu’s words have ignited a public debate about whether or not the British government has done enough to make amends for being the coun- try that transported the most slaves in the 350

the coun- try that transported the most slaves in the 350 ANDREW FLOHR-SPENCE spencand@mscd.edu years of

ANDREW FLOHR-SPENCE spencand@mscd.edu

years of the transatlantic slave trade. While everyone at least agrees that slavery was bad, the question remains how much of an apology, if any, is owed to Africans. The truth hurts. Beginning in the 1400s and continuing many years after the 1807 Slave Trade Act, an estimated 12 million Africans were taken from their homes and transported across the Atlantic to work on plantations in the Caribbean, South America and North America. Millions were made on the backs of this free labor. Slave traders often made enough money to become plantation owners, bankers, and even governors and ministers in the government. The boulevards of Liverpool, Charleston, Havana and Rio were lined with grand houses built to fit their tastes. In all its absurdity, the slave port of Bance Fort on an island in the Sierra Leone River had a two-hole golf course to accommodate the slavers as they waited for their ships to fill. “The queen has to say sorry,” Agbetu told

reporters outside the abbey before being taken away by the police. “The monarch and the gov- ernment and the church are all in there patting themselves on the back.” Groups such as Operation Truth 2007, anoth- er African British human rights group, say that the British government needs to go much further than just having regretting what happened. Because of these enormous gains afforded Europe by the exploitation of the African conti- nent, several leaders within the African commu- nity have called for Europe to pay reparations to Africa similar to the money Germany must pay to the victims of the Holocaust. The common re- ply to that is silence. In an interview with the BBC, a descendent of a Caribbean plantation owner, Christopher Madras-Smedley, said he didn’t think he needed to say sorry. “Slavery stopped 200 years ago. That’s quite a lot before I was born. I am therefore in no posi- tion to apologize,” he said. The problem with that argument is that the legacy of slavery is something that still affects the world in which we live. The very glass house we live in in the U.S. and England was built by the hands of slaves. This is not something an- cient when we still have a clear income gap be- tween the West and the Third World. There are unbroken, direct connections lead- ing from slavery to the world we live in now. And until we fess up to that reality, we will continue to stumble around in the dark palaces, wonder- ing why they hate us.

ZOË WILLIAMS williamz@mscd.edu Dead unsexy When a friend of mine said she recorded an episode

ZOË WILLIAMS

williamz@mscd.edu

Dead unsexy

When a friend of mine said she recorded an episode of America’s Next Top Model for me, I assumed I was the butt of a pre-emptive April Fools’ Day prank. I laughed until I saw aspiring models dolled up and posed as murder victims. I began to cry as I watched sexily clad wom- en sprawled across scenes depicting strangula- tion, decapitation, stabbing and drowning. The models received praise from judges like “Death becomes you.” After composing myself I hopped on the In- ternet only to discover an ad by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation featuring the bust of a thin and attractive woman sans head. Her shirt reads, “When we get our hands on breast cancer we’re going to punch it, strangle it, kick it, spit on it, choke it and pummel it until it’s good and dead.” Modeling – an industry for the profit and pleasure of men, that sells women products that make them look good for men – is glamorizing violence against women that is largely perpe- trated by men. To add salt to the wound, a non- profit set up to meet the health needs of women has begun exploiting this violence. Entertainment and advertising reflect the apathy to the epidemic of violence against women that is deeply embedded in our culture. Violence is portrayed as attractive, funny and desirable through humorous ad campaigns or beauty-centered television. There is a one-in-four chance that a woman will be beaten or sexually assaulted in her life- time. Can you name more than four women in your life? If so, you probably know someone who has or will experience battery, sexual assault, rape, molestation or other forms of violence. Do you find that alluring or exciting? If you do not like the odds that someone you love will be raped, beaten or otherwise abused, you are going to have to do something about it. Educate your family, peers, strangers and your- self about forms of violence, when they take place and how to intervene. Make it known that your alliances stop when violence starts. Con- front the attitudes that allow abuse to occur. Of- fer money or volunteer time to victims’ services. And, for goddess’ sake, turn off the television. America’s Next Top Model and the Race for the Cure provided a big red flag that the time to act is now. Do it for your mothers, sisters, lov-

ers, friends and you.