June 8th 2020. Many protests still take place after the death of George Floyd in America, who died because a police officer kneeled on his neck for about nine minutes. It was filmed and we could hear his pleas that he couldn’t breathe, other police stood by and did nothing. Today is George Floyd’s funeral. The theme of the protests is ‘Black Lives Matter’ and of course they do as does all life, whatever colour or form it takes. I have read posts that have said George Floyd was a known criminal, that is not the point, it is the fact that he was in effect murdered by a policeman who knew that he was being filmed, and didn’t care.
A few of the protesters in Britain and elsewhere have resorted to violence, which, although the frustration is visible doesn’t help their cause. In Bristol UK a statue of a former resident who although appearing magnanimous had made his money through slavery. His statue was pulled down and thrown in the water. His name, Edward Colston, appears on many buildings, it is felt that it is now not suitable, and personally I would agree. There is also a protest at an Oxford college regarding a statue of Cecil Rhodes, again it is time for it to go.
I was born in World War 11, a war against oppression, force, and group of people with the extreme far-right (Nazism and Fascism) beliefs that thought that their genetic structure made them superior to others. Had they won there would have been no democracy, Europe and Britain and much of the world would have been brought under a structure that believed in the complete destruction of any humans considered beneath them. So many lives were lost, black lives among them, why on earth should we now consider that one colour of the skin is better than another. Within all types of protest, there are always a few that resort to violence and then damage the point of the peaceful protest (in fact there are times when it is done deliberately to achieve that). In the years after that war, I think people were so shattered they only had time to think of rebuilding their lives and mourning those they had lost. Resorting to its colonial past Britain invited people from its colonies, who had been given British citizenship, to come and help rebuild the country – the Windrush generation.
I remember those years although only a child, we lived just outside London and were relatively poor. Even when I started work in London the effects of the war were still there, still being rebuilt. Now the rights of those who came with their British citizenship are being questioned. I knew nothing about slavery except that it had happened. I did not know how these black people had been abused. I did not know that the wealth of this country had in part been built on the enslavement of others, neither was it taught at school: and I went to a good school. We were taught how great the British Empire was but not how it was achieved, at least not the nasty bits. All the European countries took what they wanted, indeed all around the world whoever was the predatory force of the time abused those it controlled. Not a lot different today is it.
In my thirties, I discovered that I had the gift of mediumship which was further enhanced by art in the form of portraiture. Through spiritual contact, I started to learn about other nationalities (it started with the North American Indians) and as I researched the lives I was presented with, I started to learn more world history than I had ever learned at school, or through everyday news and propaganda. As the years went on I learned of the devastation caused by the white men wherever they went. Sometimes through war, sometimes through disease, and sometimes through religion and slavery, greed and power. I found myself writing about slavery through the pictures I drew and researched. Yes, white slavery as well. In past centuries the Barbary Pirates enslaved many British and Europeans and apparently went as far up as Iceland. Of course, slavery has always been there but Europeans and British were supposed to be Christian countries, serving a loving God.
Many of the men who are still revered with their statues would have called themselves staunch Christians. There are no excuses: when I started to research the names and pictures coming through to me the levels of cruelty, particularly the sea journeys of the people from African countries (reference’The Slave Ship’ by Marcus Rediker), had such a deep emotional effect on me that I often had to put the book aside for a while. Not only were slaves taken to the Caribbean and the Americas and South Africa, but also Polynesians to Australia, and I found myself researching all these places. One of my pictures took me to Cecil Rhodes, not a particularly nice man, full of arrogance and the idea of white supremacy, but he was of his time and that time has gone.
I also found myself researching Islamic slavery, this was just as bad with the slaves forced to march many miles across deserts (reference ‘Islam’s Black Slaves’ by Ronald Segal). After my book ‘My Soul: Enslaved’ was published I read a book called ‘The Anarchy’ which is the history of the East India Company, a British company and it does our history no favours. There have been many more predatory countries and time frames that didn’t come into contact with me spiritually so I have not as yet researched them. Now is our time to put things right. The history is available. Yes, there is prejudice depending on who has written it, but much is available that is authentic. The beliefs of our ancestors drift down through the centuries and are so embedded in our psyche that if we are ever to stop modern slavery we must listen and learn and adjust. All lives matter.