Simon Webb Gets Upset About Children’s Book on Black Lesbian Pirate Queen

Well, it’s a Bank Holiday Monday, and so to spoil your fun here’s another post about about History Debunked has put up on the Net. Yesterday or the day before he put up a post urging people to be aware of the anti-racist, pro-gay, ‘woke’ propaganda now being published as children’s literature.

He’s particularly concerned about the colonisation of British history by Blacks and their insertion into historical epics like Bridgerton. He has a point about this TV series. This is the British past remade in the image of the multicultural present as modern liberals would have liked it to have been, rather than as it was. One of the arguments Major Moody used in his Second Report of the 1820s, which argued that Blacks weren’t ready for their emancipation and that Blacks and Whites were fundamentally incompatible is that there were very few marriages in aristocratic society between them. This was despite Moody’s own wife being Black. There were odd members of the nobility, who were Black. One was the son of a Caribbean planter who had a glittering political career in the 1820s, ending up as the Lord Lieutenant of Flintshire in Wales. But most of the Black population in Britain would, I suspect, either have been sailors, servants or other working people.

There are problems with these programmes, although they’re not an issue, provided people realise that they are watching fiction. The problems come if people believe them, as this makes understanding historic British racism and the Black community’s struggle against difficult to understand. If there were so many Blacks, and they were so easily accepted as equals by Whites back then, then why did it take so long to ban the slave trade and slavery itself, quite apart from explaining the rise of vicious racist groups like the National Front and the BNP?

As an example of this attitude now getting into children’s books, he produced a recent one about a Black lesbian girl becoming a pirate chief. Now this does sound unlikely. There were Black pirates, of course, and it’s respectable, mainstream historical fact that they received the same share of the plunder as Whites, and likewise received the same rates of compensation for the loss of limbs. There were also female pirates, like Anne Bonney. One set were discovered when the British navy took a pirate ship. Most of the men gave up, but three pirates fought like devils. On examination, it was found that they were women, and that one of them was pregnant. I think Bonney was one of them. And some of these women were bisexual. When Channel 4 started back in the 1980s, there was a five minute slot in the evening between programmes where somebody could give some kind of talk. One of these, I remember, was by an American woman, who talked about one of these swashbuckling women, who had relations both with men and other women.

And some of the pirates had genuinely revolutionary views about social equality. Years ago, when I was an ickle sprog, I was a member of the Puffin Club, set up for children who read Puffin Books. This had its own magazine, the Puffin Post. In the Puffin annual one year there was a piece about the ‘White Pirates’. This wasn’t because of their skin colour, but because of their extremely progressive political views. They believed in the radical, democratic ideals emerging in the 18th century and so rejected aristocratic rule. They were also internationalists, consisting of people from a number of nations, all of whom were to be treated equally. This was shown by them having their own international language or lingua franca, spoken in their base on Madagascar. And that’s all I can remember about them, I’m afraid. They’re obviously a group it would be great to know more about.

From all this about women and politically revolutionary pirates, it’s not such a stretch to Black lesbian pirate queens, although I doubt there were any. As the subject of a children’s book, it’s no more improbable than one I’ve seen, where the captain’s mother or grandmother takes over the ship, forcing them to do exercises and become a bit more literate and educated, which is clearly a piece of fun fiction. The only bit aspect of the book which would stop me from giving it to a child is the lesbianism. Depending on the age of the children the book is aimed at, I think this might be giving children too much sexual knowledge too early. But as a story about a Black girl becoming a pirate chief, I really don’t see any harm in it at all.

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4 Responses to “Simon Webb Gets Upset About Children’s Book on Black Lesbian Pirate Queen”

  1. Mark Pattie Says:

    Re the surprising percentage of Black actors in Bridgerton- I do think that is somewhat historically accurate (albeit w/ a bit of exaggeration) as many aristos of the Georgian era had Black servants. Some more enlightened toffs genuinely brought Black children up as part of their family. Viz. Dido Belle and James Somerset. As for the sexual orientation of many pirates, Anne Bonney was lesbian, and I’ve no doubt many male pirates were gay or bisexual as they spent more time w/ male comrades than with women. Not sure about a Black pirate “queen” in C18th Britain, although I suspect there probably were some African pirates enlisted by the British.

    • beastrabban Says:

      I remember that there was a lot of research into pirate homosexuality at one point, Mark, so that one researcher on the Beeb said it was almost like the pirates were an 18th century gay rights movement.

  2. Mark Pattie Says:

    Slightly off topic, but I went to see the Book of Mormon the other week in Liverpool. I didn’t mind it, but was quite shocked at the clear stereotyping of the Ugandans in the musical- particularly with the “Hasa Diga Eebowai” song- the phrase does not mean anything in Luganda. I think some of that might have been acceptable in 2012ish, but I am amazed they still allowed such stereotyping now. I wonder if the BoM average audience is more socially conservative than Phantom of the Opera audiences?

    • beastrabban Says:

      I really don’t know anything about the Book of Mormon musical, except that it’s by the duo responsible for South Park. Before that they made a comedy about Alferd Packer, a cannibal. The BoM has been playing in Bristol, but I never fancied seeing it. I know that Mormonism is quite a weird religion, but I thought it was a bit tasteless to produce a musical satirising it. I just thought it was about the origins of the religion as per an episode of South Park, and didn’t realise until you mentioned it that there were Africans in it. It might be that the audiences for the BoM are more socially conservative than those for other musicals, as the South Park duo’s style of humour is based on calculated outrage – seeing how far they can go in being offensive without incurring bans or protests.

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