Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

‘Africa’s Slaves Today’ – A Good, But Dated Book Used by Simon Webb

December 31, 2022

I’ve remarked in previous posts about History Debunked’s Simon Webb that when he cites his sources, he’s usually correct. But that’s when he cites he sources. In one his videos a few years ago, he stressed the importance of reading as a indicator of educational attainment and social and economic success. The most successful children, he claimed, came from homes with a lot of books. I’ve heard that before, and I can see the truth in it. A child is most likely to be successful, if they come from homes where literacy is valued and there are books to read. Although obviously there are exceptions. He then said that it wasn’t expensive to build a good library for yourself – you could get many books cheap from secondhand bookshops. This is true, and I’ve done it myself, but the problem is finding a good secondhand bookshop. There are several in Bristol, and one very good one in Cheltenham. But many towns don’t have them. And the problem is that some of the books available there, while good in there time, are now dated. One of the books Webb waved around, which he supposedly got secondhand, and which he recommended to his viewers, was Africa’s Slaves Today. We had a copy donated to us at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol. It’s a very good book, but was published in the 1970s. Some of the information contained in it is pertinent to one of the horrible murder cases of the 1990s. This was the tragic death of Victoria Climbie, a little African girl who had been sent by her parents to be brought up in London by an aunt and her partner. The book notes that it was a common practice in Africa to send children to be brought up by wealthier relatives so that they could enjoy their advantages. However, some of these children were treated as slaves by their foster parents. Something similar happened to Climbie, who was hideously physically abused by the aunt and her partner until she eventually died. I believe she was actually on a social services watch list, but was let down by a heavy caseload and an incompetent supervisor. The Mail reported that the social worker didn’t know what to do about the case, and brought it to her supervisor’s attention. The supervisor, a Black woman, didn’t give her any positive advice, just a speech quoting from Maya Angelou while lighting candles. And thanks to these failings, a girl died.

I can’t remember very much about the book, except that now it seems perhaps too optimistic. The book notes that slavery still persists in parts of Africa, but notes that one candidate for Nigerian presidency had facial marking denoting slave origin. They concluded that it showed that prejudices against such people may be weakening. Unfortunately, this has not happened. The book Disposable People, published in the ’90s, noted that the number of slaves around the world had grown. There were now something like 20 million of them. This included enslaved labourers and prostitutes in countries like Brazil and the Golden Triangle area of southeast Asia. Their servitude was often disguised as long-term contracts. The subject has been covered in various TV programmes. One programme on Brazil showed the country’s task force against slavery liberating a group of them. You probably won’t be amazed by the fact that they mostly seemed to be Black. Disposable People also claimed that it was often the traditional slaves, like those in Mauretania, who were the best treated. Africa’s Slaves Today makes the same claim, arguing it was disproportionate and counterproductive to move against these traditional slaves, who were seen more as old family retainers and treated as such, in societies where slavery was slowly dying out. But this has not happened. There are anti-slavery groups in Mauretania still fighting to end slavery there. Mauretania has officially banned it, but this is not always enforced and the Islamic clergy are still very much in favour of it. And, partly thanks to Blair, Obama’s and Sarkozy’s bombing of Libya, slave markets have reopened in the part of that country controlled by the Islamists to sell the Black African migrants, who have travelled there in the hope of passage to Europe. Slave markets have also opened Uganda. None of this, of course, could have been foreseen by the book’s authors, which is why you also need to read more modern works like Sean Stilwell’s Slavery and Slaving in African History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2014), which also covers modern slavery and the efforts by former slaves and human rights groups to end it.

Back to History Debunked, you need to check some of what he says carefully, as really you should everything on YouTube. And be especially carefully when he doesn’t tell you where some fact he cites come from.

Short Video on the African Enslavement of Other Africans

December 8, 2022

I found this video yesterday on YouTube on History Revealed’s channel. It’s part of a series of videos he’s done on fact you weren’t taught in schools. He seems to be refuting the assertion that White Europeans and Americans are the ultimate source of all Africa’s problems, as he’s put another one up today on Nguema, the mad dictator of Equatorial Guinea, who managed to kill or chase out 47 per cent of his country’s population.

This video briefly discusses the role of the Ashanti and Dahomey in the transatlantic slave trade, and states that the Europeans were junior partners because climate, disease and geography prevented them getting any further inland. This is absolutely correct, although we were also prevented from conquering Africa by the strong states in the region. Dahomey and Ashanti weren’t the only African kingdoms involved in the slave trade. Slavery itself had been widely practised in Africa for over three thousand years and very many African societies had slaves, ranging from 30%-70% of their populations. As well as Europeans, they were also supplying the Arab and Asian slave trades.

All this is factual history and should be taught in any objective discussion of the slave trade. I’m putting this video up, however, because it includes something I wasn’t aware of. A few years ago an African chief went down on his knees to beg forgiveness from a congregation of Black Americans for his family’s role in the slave trade. The chiefs’ role in the trade is now hotly discussed in African countries like Ghana and Nigeria, but you don’t hear this in America or Britain, where the attitude seems to be that the slave trade was solely conducted by Whites.

Do We Really Need a Special Poppy to Commemorate the Sacrifice of Black Servicepeople?

November 14, 2022

Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday, when the nation officially commemorates the sacrifice of our boys and girls in the armed forces, particularly in the two World Wars. And Simon Webb of History Debunked put up another piece about race. It seems that there is a black Remembrance Day poppy to commemorate the special sacrifice of Black squaddies from the Caribbean and Africa. Webb wondered why it was that Blacks felt they needed to have such a special symbol, while the millions of Asians that also served in the British forces during World War I – he rightly mentioned 3 million Indians – don’t feel the need to have one for themselves.

Let’s have a bit of context here. Until a few years ago, the war memorial in Belgium only commemorated the White troopers. There was rightly a campaign to have the names of all the non-White troops, who also fell, inscribed on the monument. I remember the news reports about it at the time and the interviews on the Beeb. The former Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol also did an exhibition about the contribution of the non-White Commonwealth troops. The displays included the war diary of a Muslim Indian soldier, who compared the carnage to the End of the World. There was also an image of a Black serviceman proudly bearing the medal he’d been awarded for his courage. If there was a need for a special poppy to commemorate non-White service during the War, the erection of the memorials to them in Belgium would have been the appropriate moment to do so. And it would have covered all the non-White squaddies who had previously been excluded.

But I got no sense of that from Webb’s video. He just said it had been around for a few years now. I have to say, I haven’t heard of it before, or seen them for sale. Which isn’t surprising, as I’m White. But I do wonder if these poppies are just around in very restricted areas, like the very Black, very anti-racist parts of London.

I have to say I have very strong misgivings about it. It seems once again to come from a mindset that Black people are especially victimised and need their own space and institutions. It seems to be another step on the road to real liberal apartheid. In America some of the universities have special ‘safe spaces’ for Black students and hold specially segregated, Black-only graduation ceremonies. It also seems to come from the fixed mentality that somehow Black lives are seen as intrinsically less by Whites or mainstream society, as otherwise expressed in the Black Lives Matter movement. But I also think this could increase resentment towards Blacks. One of the central elements of anti-Semitism is the perception that Jews’ first loyalty is to themselves and other Jews and have little loyalty to their host societies. This is the underlying assumption that made the ‘Stab in the Back’ myth of Jewish betrayal credible to some Germans after their defeat in the First World War, which formed one of the major pieces of Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda. Over here there was similar suspicion about the divided loyalties of Jews of German origin and the Anglo-German Jewish businessman, Alfred Mond. A special Black poppy that commemorates only Black servicemen, while certainly not repudiating loyalty to the British Empire, nevertheless could very easily give the impression that they believe the lives of Black servicemen are worthy of particular commemoration over and beyond that of everyone else, and that Blacks are solely concerned with their own people, not wider British society. That’s probably not the intention the people who invented it want to give, but the possibility’s there, nonetheless.

Open Letter by Brown American Professionals Denouncing Robin Di Angelo’s Racism

November 2, 2022

James Lindsay is, with Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose, one of the most determined and fiercest critics of the new postmodern doctrines of Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial Theory, Queer Studies and so on. These promise tolerance and liberation from prejudice, but, in reality, they just create further hate and discrimination. Critical Race Theory does this by defining Whiteness as a bourgeois property that gives White people privilege and automatically makes them oppressors, even if they are personally non-racist. Two years ago, on June 20, 2020, Lindsay posted this on his YouTube channel. It’s an open letter by Brown American professional people criticising Robin di Angelo for her anti-White racism in such books as White Fragility. It attacks her for poisoning people’s, especially children’s, minds by making them obsess about race and thinking about how people are complicit in a racist system. They state that America wasn’t built by White, or any particular people, but by people of all colours and walks of life striving for happiness, community, freedom and a better world. They state that they are not going to shut up while everything their ancestors worked for is torn down by a woman who can’t handle her own racism or by the White children who have been bamboozled by it. They don’t sign their names, but simply say that they are Brown professionals who worked their way up in a free country. They aren’t going to give their names, because of what would happen if they did.

This is one of the peculiar turns of events that has occurred in the controversy over Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory. There are now Black intellectuals, activists and YouTubers defending Whites against their demonisation by Critical Race Theory. Many of them are conservatives, like Candace Owens and Amala Ekpunobi. Owen’s posted a video a few days ago claiming that she was thanked when in the southern US by a White woman with tears in her eyes. Others are ordinary Blacks who feel that the anti-White racist rhetoric is not only racist but diverting attention away from the real problems in the Black community caused by Blacks themselves. And these Black activists and commenters complain about the racial hatred and abuse they receive, with people calling them ‘Uncle Toms’ and other slurs I can’t use. And while I suspect that Lindsey is a man of the right, Helen Pluckrose is a woman of the left. She also had a piece published on Linsey’s site stating that the struggle against CRT and the other postmodern ideologies weren’t a case of either left or right but should concern everyone who supports rational argument based on evidence, individuality and freedom of speech, the key values of western civilisation introduced by the Enlightenment.

The letter runs:

‘To Robin DiAngelo:

We address you specifically, not because you act alone, but because you stand now as a figurehead of a movement, a representative of a particular school of thought—one among a few others, to be sure. We want to say we recognize that you are racist, and we’re ready to forgive you for it.

You proudly proclaim your racism in your writings, as so often racists do. We have read your work and can see the racism dripping from every page. We think you might be right, though. Maybe it wasn’t your fault. Maybe you were “socialized” into it. That’s not true of all of us, though, and saying so isn’t fair, and it isn’t right.

We understand the impact your work is having. You would turn us against each other by teaching us to see how we’re all “complicit” in a “system” of racism. You would have our children become obsessed with racism and poisoned with it. You do this so that you will not feel so alone. And for this crime against us and our children, we would like to sit down and have a word with you.

Many of our children have been led astray, taught to obsess over race, to attempt to see it all around them in every interaction and every object around them. This has only happened in recent years under the “educational” direction of “anti-racism” advocates such as yourself. We’re terrified. Those who have fully embraced this poison may be lost, possibly forever. They’re our children, and they’re already turning on us. Imagine for a moment how that must feel for every parent, every sibling experiencing this right now.

We write this in the pale hope of saving them, not to save you, and to stand in true solidarity with one voice—brown, white, and even black—to deliver a very simple message to you.

You are wrong.

The United States of America was not built for white people, and it most certainly was not built by white people, as you, yourself, seem to know so very well. But it was also not built by people of African descent, or Latino, or Asian, or by men, or women. The United States of America, was built by all of us. All of us striving as best we could for a common dream that seemed impossible to achieve, as our founders, whose memories are being trashed for it now under tutelage like yours, fought valiantly to bring about. The United States of America was built so that all people could live free; so that every individual could strive for happiness, community, freedom, and a better world for their own children.

This American journey was built brick by brick, law by law, for hundreds of years in this country, and it was built even over thousands of years long before any such country existed. It is deeply rooted in the history of all peoples, as we made mistakes, survived hardships, and tried to answer the questions of how we could best live. And from this history, these mistakes, these hardships, and these answers, we learned. From this knowledge rose a nation—more importantly an idea. We built this, all of us, together, and we can enjoy it, together. We’ll take the good and the bad, along with that of our ancestors from every corner of this planet, and we’ll keep striving, like Americans, to do better.

So, the message we want to say to you, Robin, is simple. No.

No. We will not sit in our homes in terror as everything our parents and their parents before us worked so hard to build gets torn down. We will not let your racism infect us all and tear us apart. We will rise up and say in one unified voice: NO.

We reject any world that fosters nothing but hate and division and seeks to destroy the legacy which was handed down to us, which our people—all of our people—built and grew into together. We reject your attempts to steal our voices and redefine racism through your white, or now brown, fragility lens. We forgive you for your racism even as we reject your racist language used against us, when we attempt to object. We can see how you treat us, telling our white spouses to hate us and us to resent them, making them suffer, making them believe they are oppressors who oppress us, who they love. We can see the blatant racism in all of this, and your word games can not hide it. We’re not so stupid as you seem to think.

We want you to know, that we see the harm caused by these racist ideas and we say, NO.

We will not shut up; we will not be silenced; we will not be intimidated by white children bamboozled by the insane racist ramblings of a woman who can’t handle her own racism; and we will not accept your racism being projected onto all of us. You may have to live with your racism, but no one else does.

To each of you that hears us, it is up to you to decide what to do now. You are an individual, but we should remember that we are all in this together.

Signed,

A group of professional brown Americans (if you must know) who worked their way up in a free country. We cannot sign our right names because, thanks in some significant part to you, we know what will happen if we do. Those who feel they can, can add theirs in the comments.’

The letter can be read at: https://newdiscourses.com/2020/06/open-letter-robin-diangelo-anti-racism/

Video on Black Iranians, their Origins and Subculture

October 3, 2022

I found this video, ‘Iran’s Forgotten People: Afro Iranians’ on Beyond Your Borders’ channel on YouTube. Although short, it provides an informative outline of the history and culture of Iran’s Black minority. Iran is a patchwork of different peoples, and Farsi speakers only make up 60 per cent of the population. Afro-Iranians are one of these minorities. These are mostly concentrated in three of the country’s southern provinces, where they constituted 10-12 per cent of the population. They were mostly slaves taken from the Zanj, the east coast of Africa and shipped across to Iran as part of the Indian Ocean slave trade that went to Arabia, Iran, India and beyond to southeast Asia. The video notes that not all of them were slaves – some immigrated as free people in search of work. They’re mostly employed as fishermen and agricultural workers, which explains why they’re mostly concentrated on the south coast. Many of them were also servants and soldiers. Male slaves were often castrated for use as eunuchs, but many weren’t and had children. The women were often bought as concubines. Today Iran’s historic slaves are referred to as servants as it is felt they were not treated with the harshness accompanying slavery. Many Black Iranians have surnames reflecting their former homelands. Those, who came originally from Zanzibar, for example, have the surname ‘Zanzibari’. Not all Iranians slaves were Black. Some were White, such as the Circassians. However, the supply of Whites slaves dried up following conflict during Iran and Russia, so that country under the Qajar shahs turned to Africa for its slaves. There are three castes, which do not intermarry. The highest are supposed to be the descendants of free Black Africans, while the lowest are supposedly the descendants of slaves. Afro-Iranians vary in their assimilation to mainstream Iranian culture. Some are very acculturated, speaking fluent Farsi and the local language, while others are less. They have also been very influential in popular Zendari music of the Iranian south. Many intermarry with White Iranians and consider themselves Iranians. They would regard calling them ‘Afro-Iranians’ as a challenge to their Iranian identity. The speaker suggests that while it is important than they shouldn’t be forgotten, they shouldn’t be separated either from the rest of Iran.

Black and Muslim YouTubers Discuss Slavery and Racism in Islam

March 30, 2022

I found this fascinating video on Sa Ra Garvey’s YouTube channel. I don’t know anything about Garvey, except that he’s probably a proud man of colour concerned with his people’s improvement and liberation. His name appears to be a reference to the Black activist and Jazz muso Sun Ra and the great Jamaican Black activist Marcus Garvey. Since the issue of slavery and reparations emerged once again in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, many, largely conservative commenters, have also been raising the issue of slavery in Islam. Slavery did not, after all, begin with Europe and the transatlantic slave trade. It has existed in various forms around the world since antiquity, and before White Europeans turned to enslaving Black Africans for the plantations in the New World, Islam had also done so. The first Black slaves imported into Europe were slaves brought into Islamic, Moorish Spain. Stephen Howe in his book Afrocentrism, states that the Arabs enslaved 5 million Black Africans, comparable to the 12 million taken by White Europeans.

In the video Black and Muslim speakers discuss the Islamic enslavement of Black Africans and the resulting legacy of racism in the Arab, Middle Eastern and south Asian worlds. One of the terms used in Arabic for Blacks is ‘abid’, which means ‘slaves’. The video also contains footage from documentaries filming the slave markets that have opened in Libya, selling Black migrants hoping to reach Europe. It also contains comments from enslaved Africans and free Blacks further south in Africa justifiably furious at the enslavement of their fellows. There are also clips from an al-Jazeera documentary on Black Iraqis. They are the descendants of enslaved Africans, and complain about the racism and marginalisation they suffer from and their political aspirations to gain power and improve their lot. One Black American contrasts the attitude of White westerners with that of the Saudis. He states that if you ask a western White about slavery, they’ll respond with remorse. The Saudis never do.

I have a few caveats about the video. Some of the material comes from Memri TV, and the video’s edited by Taqiyya Watch. These are both anti-Islam channels. ‘Taqiyya’ is an Islamic term for lying to defend Islam. It started out, I believe, as a Shi’a strategy to avoid persecution. It initially meant that a Muslim could deny he was a member of the faith in order to avoid being killed. Since then it has been expanded to the production of falsehoods to protect the faith itself. Memri TV seem to be an Israeli outfit specialising in translating material from the Islamic world which Muslims would like to hide. This is often when Middle Eastern politicians present a moderate face to the West, but present themselves as much more hard line to domestic Muslim audiences. However, the important point is that these organisations also have their overt biases against the Islamic world.

Regarding racism, Jonathan A.C. Brown discusses this in his book Slavery & Islam. He notes that the Qur’an actually condemns racism, and during the Middle Ages a series of Muslim scholars wrote books defending Blacks with titles such as The Excellence of the Negroes. He also describes the shock of one 19th century Arab visitor to France, who was shocked at how the standard of beauty was confined to White complexions, excluding the darker skin colours the Arabs preferred. The anti-Black racism is therefore against the letter and spirit of Islam, but persists nonetheless.

I am not trying to be deliberately controversial by posting this video. I find it interesting because it shows that Blacks in America and Africa are concerned about the Arab/Muslim slave trade, its legacy and resurgence. I find it particularly interesting that Afro-Iraqis are challenging racism in their country. That’s something I doubt very many people have heard about, unless they’re studying Islam or Middle Eastern politics at a post-graduate level in academia. The two speakers at the start of the video, a Black man and an Asian Muslim woman, describe how Blacks and Arabs are both minorities and so have allied with each other. But they feel that in this alliance, Blacks are very much the junior partner. They are the minorities’ minority. This is a comment on the politics of intersectional leftism, which seeks to unite a range of disparate groups, such as Blacks and ethnic minorities, gays and feminists in order to challenge conventional society. It shows that, despite right-wing attempts to present such alliances as a monolithic block, there are strains and criticisms within them. As for the re-opening of the slave markets in Libya, this is deeply offensive and troubling to the majority of severely normal Muslims around the world. In 1856, for example, the Muslim ruler of Tunis banned slavery completely within his dominions. That was 164 years ago. It is deeply repulsive and shocking that after all that time, real slavery is returning to the world.

Book on Islam and Slavery

February 3, 2022

Jonathan A.C. Brown, Slavery & Islam (London: Oneworld Publications 2919).

This is another book I’ve bought for my reading on non-western forms of slavery. The book’s blurb runs

‘Every major religion and philosophy has once once condoned or approved of slavery, but in modern times nothing is seen as more evil. Americans confront this crisis of authority when they erect statues of Founding Fathers who slept with their slaves. And Muslims faced it when ISIS revived sex slavery, justifying it with verses from the Quran and the practice of Muhammad.

Exploring the moral and ultimately theological problem of slavery, Jonathan A.C., Brown traces how the Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions have tried to reconcile modern moral certainties with the infallibility of God’s message. He lays out how Islam viewed slavery in theory, and the reality of how it was practiced across Islamic civilisation. Finally Brown carefully examines arguments put forward by Muslims for the abolition of slavery.’

Brown is Professor of Islamic Civilisation at Georgetown University, and this is very much an academic book. It begins with a statement of Brown’s argument and a denial that it is an apology for slavery, followed by pages about the very definition of slavery. While many people will feel it’s unnecessary, it’s important to distinguish slavery from other forms of unfreedom, like serfdom. The book then discusses slavery in the Qur’an and Sunna, the traditions about Mohammed which are considered sound and reliable by Muslims. It then examines the Muslim reform of slavery, the influence of previous civilisations, slavery as regulated and defined by shariah. The chapter on slavery and Islamic civilisation discusses issues like the classic slavery zone, slavery and racial intermixing, and the social roles slaves could perform from domestic worker to scholar, saint, poet or elite administrator. Then there’s a chapter presenting the moral arguments against slavery and it’s intrinsic evil, especially as this confronts Americans and Muslims, followed by a chapter on Islamic attempts and arguments for slavery’s abolition. The succeeding chapter is on the Prophet and ISIS, examining issues such as whether Islamic attempts at abolition are successful or morally acceptable, whether slavery in the Islamic world could ever be legalised again and ISIS and slavery. The last chapter is about concubinage and sex slavery, which is obviously the major issue that provoked the author to write his book. There are six appendices, 1, is on a slave saint of Basra; 2 on western Enlightenment thinkers and slavery; 3 on whether the 1926 Muslim world congress actually condemned slavery; 4 on whether Mariya was Muhammad’s wife or concubine; 5 on whether shariah law considers freedom a human right, and 6 on the enslavement Muslim unbelievers or apostates.

The book appears to be an exhaustive examination of the issue, and I’ve no doubt the vast majority of Muslims were as shocked by ISIS’ revival of sex slavery as everyone else. But unfortunately sex slavery isn’t the only form of slavery that has been revived. The sponsorship system for migrant workers in the Gulf Arab states very much acts as a form of enslavement. During the Sudanese civil war Arabs enslaved the country’s Black population, and since then slave markets selling Black African migrants have opened in the part of Libya held by Islamists.

Of course Islam isn’t the only culture facing a revival of slavery. Way back in the 1990s the book Disposable People examined the persistence of slavery around the world, from enslaved workers in Brazil and the far east to traditional slaves in Africa and slaves brought to the west by their Arab masters in the guise of servants. The book estimated that there were 20 million people enslaved around the world. I’ve no doubt that, thanks to neoliberalism and the global assault on workers’ rights and conditions, this number has increased. Hopefully books like this will clarify the issues and help to combat it so that it can be genuinely consigned to the past.

A Thorough Critique of Afrocentric Pseudo-History, Psychology, and Science

January 27, 2022

Stephen Howe, Afrocentrism: Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes (London: Verso 1998)

This is another excellent book I’ve been reading lately. I first came across in it an excellent review by the Black British writer, Caryl Phillips in the Financial Times at the time it was published, though it’s only now I’ve actually got round to ordering a copy and reading it. Afrocentrism is a set of inter-related, pseudo-academic disciplines based on the claim that the ancient Egyptians were Black and are the unacknowledged source of White western culture, which was stolen from them. Not only were the Egyptians themselves Black, but they may also have derived their culture and achievements in turn from the peoples further to the south, the Nubians and Ethiopians. Some Afrocentrists claim that Greece, Rome and Carthage were originally Black ancient Egyptian colonies and that the original peoples of the British isles were also Black. Some push this claim of Black African primacy even further, claiming that ancient Egyptians travelled to the Americas before Columbus, where they founded the Olmec culture. The ancient peoples of Asia too, the Indians, Thais, Chinese and Japanese were also Black. At the same time ancient Egypt expanded to colonise Africa, where it was also responsible for the major cultural, artistic and architectural achievements. Where these coexisted with alleged brutality and barbarism, as in West Africa, which had a highly sophisticated art alongside human sacrifice, this was due to biological degeneration from the original Egyptian herrenvolk.

Black Americans are held to be part of a single Black race and culture with Black Africans, and Afrocentric scholars are active trying to trace authentic African survivals in the speech, culture and psychology of Black America. There is supposed to be a single Black character and psychology and a distinct Black philosophy. At the same time, ,Afrocentric scholars believe that the Egyptians were masters of political theory and science, which can similarly be grotesquely exaggerated. Some of them claim that the ancient Egyptians knew about quantum physics and gravity and that the Tanzanians had semi-conductors. At the same time they are active researching and promoting various Blacks figures they believe were great scientists. Again, these figures, who could, like Benjamin Banneker, be genuinely impressive in their real lives, and their achievements are often wildly exaggerated.

Unsurprisingly there’s much racism mixed up with this. There’s a bitter hatred of Whites, as well as, Jews and Arabs. One Afrocentric writers claims the latter has been attempting to destroy African civilisation and enslave its peoples for 5,000 years. Which is quite incredible, considering that I think the Muslim Arabs only conquered north Africa in the 7th/8th century AD. There’s also a bitter hatred of homosexuality and strong rejection of feminism. In the early 1960s one Afrocentric group insisted that female members should show their submissiveness by crossing their arms and lowering their heads when one of the men passed them. There’s also an insistence on traditional family structures. At the same time, some believe that Blacks are intellectually and emotionally superior to Whites because of the greater amount of the melanin pigment in their brains.

At their heart, this is an attempt to compensate for the massive racial oppression and disparagement Blacks and their civilisations have suffered over the centuries, far more than any other ethnic group. Yet much Afrocentric scholarship is based on the severely dated writings of 19th and early 20th century European colonial officials and anthropologists, as well as other White writers, who definitely believed that Blacks were inferior. For example, Afrocentric scholars assert that, while Whites and Europeans are logical and rational, Blacks are emotional and intuitive. Which is very much like the old imperialist claim that Blacks were inferior because they weren’t rational and logical. The claim that ancient Egyptians were responsible for the colonisation of Africa and every advance made by the peoples of the continent also derives from 19th and early 20th century White sources. The only difference is that those writers believed that the Egyptians were part of a superior, ‘Hamitic’, White civilisation. And also mixed up with it are various occult, Masonic and New Age ideas. Some of these derive from Albert Churchward, a freemason, who believed that there was a war going on between freemasonry and socialism, and only the former could defend civilisation from the Red Menace. Other figures in the New Age part of the Afrocentric movement include Credo Mutwa, a genuine Zulu shaman, honest guv, and apologist for the South African apartheid state.

Howe’s book traces the history of these ideas, some of which have been around for longer than I thought. I was aware that the claim that the ancient Egyptians were Black and therefore equal to or superior to White civilisation began in the 19th century. I was surprised, however, to find that Black Americans, largely clergymen, were making the claims as early as the 1820s. He carefully distinguishes between those writers, like the Senegalese mathematician and nuclear physicist Cheikh Anta Diop, who, while wrong, nevertheless were diligent researchers and produced significant insights, and others who were far less impressive. Some of the latter can only be described as cranks, like the female Afrocentrist who claims that nearly everything, including Christmas trees, are representations of the Black male genitals. Some of the most virulently anti-White racist material comes from White writers, such as the assertion that Whites are inferior because we’re all descended from the Neanderthals, who are given a whole series of unpleasant traits. Some Afrocentrists seem to have set up their own Stalinist ‘cult of personality’. Molefi Asante, for example, has his own academic department and institute, who members and scholars always pay generous tribute to him for guiding them on their intellectual quest, and largely don’t say anything that wasn’t already said by the master. Quite a number give themselves impressive African names, meaning things like ‘Bearer of Enlightenment’, and a number have also claimed to have been African princes or holy men. Their real identities and backgrounds, however, tend to be much more prosaic. He also notes the connection and major differences with other major figures in Black scholarship and anti-racist campaigning, like Franz Fanon and W.E.B. DuBois, and the French Caribbean Negritude movement.

There are some significant difference between the scholars discussed here. Cheikh Anta Diop believed that ancient Egypt was the source of western culture and I think he wanted Greek and Latin replaced as languages by ancient Egyptian. But while his thinking was highly racialised, he wasn’t a racist. He wanted Blacks to join the global community of peoples as equals. He also believed that civilisation was cyclical, and that as Europeans supposedly took their ideas from Africa, so Africans should now learn from Europeans. Others were definitely racist, such as the speaker at the first Black History Month in 1986 who seemed to advocate shooting Whites, although he couldn’t tell his audience when, where and whom. In the case of Marcus Garvey’s son, this went into pure Black Nazism. When Jamaica celebrated Garvey’s birth in the 1970s, his son called for Garvey’s movement to become a Black National Socialism, because Africa also needs its lebensraum.

Among the researchers and writers examined and critiqued is Martin Bernal, the White author of Black Athena. This caused a major stir when it was published in the 1980s, possibly because, as Bernal himself suggested, he was White. Bernal was able to assemble a massive amount of information and was extensively criticised at the time. But he was also controversial because he believed that ancient Greece was also strongly influenced by the Semitic peoples, specifically the Phoenicians and the Jews. This was in fact based on contemporary Israeli scholarship, and was itself highly controversial. As a result, some of the criticisms of him and his work have a very nasty element of anti-Semitism.

The book is a thorough examination and demolition of Afrocentric scholarship with considerable sympathy for the genuine achievements of Black scholars, some of whom have made very trenchant criticisms. One Ghanaian or Nigerian philosopher lampooned the claim that there is a single, African philosophy based around a transcendent life force. In a spoof article he argued that the English, and therefore all westerners, venerated the mystic force ING, because English verbs often ended in ‘ing’, like ‘doing’ or ‘being’. In fact the claim that there is a single African philosophy comes from Tempels, a Belgian Roman Catholic priest, who only researched a single Bantu tribe, and the anthropologist Griaule and his Dogon informant, Ogotommeli. The latter two have become notorious because of their books’ claim that the Dogon had an advanced knowledge of astronomy. They knew that the planets circled the Sun in ellipses, and that Sirius had an invisible companion star. For R.K.G. Temple in the 1970s, it was because they’d been visited by aliens. For the Melanists, it was because they had intuitive knowledge of it through their pineal gland. Howe suggests that Ogotommeli probably knew about it from visiting colonial officials with an interest in the subject, and made the claim that all this was known to the Dogon as a way of pulling this arrogant colonial anthropologist’s leg.

The book also argues that Afrocentric views of Africa are themselves also damaging. They present the continent as a static, unfied culture, which has never suffered war and conflict between its peoples before the advent of Europeans. In fact it’s a continent of many different peoples and cultures. There’s no evidence that it was ever colonised by the ancient Egyptians. Only six ancient Egyptian artefacts have been found outside Egypt and Nubia. And rather than the ancient Egyptians introducing agriculture to the rest of Africa, there is evidence that it was independently discovered in six different places on the continent. As for the assertion that ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs are the source for various African writing systems, such as the Vai of Liberia, some of these are known to have been invented by specific individuals in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some African peoples are happy to promote the idea that they are descendants of the ancient Egyptians, while others very definitely are not. The problem here is that Afrocentrist claims of Egyptian primacy are obscuring the real achievements of Africa and its peoples.

As for the question of the racial origins of the ancient Egyptians, the book notes that this is a subject of near to Zero interest to professional, mainstream Egyptologists. A number of academics books and journals he surveys make no mention of it. When one does, it is simply to say that it is a distraction from the real issues Egyptologists want to examine. Genetic and craniological examination, however, suggest that the ancient Egyptians were racially identical to other peoples in that part of Africa. They show genetic links to the peoples of Neolithic Europe, the Middle East and India, and lesser genetic connections to the peoples further south. The Egyptian scholars themselves, however, see themselves as racially mixed and there was an argument at a conference in Cairo when the Black Americans insisted that they were Black. I also find some of the Afro-centrists’ concern to establish the racial identity of the Nubians rather odd. One Afrocentric writer hoped that one day science would be able to reconstruct the features of the Nubian pharaoh Taharqa from its skull fragments, and that these would show he was Black. I found this quite puzzling, as I’ve always assumed that the Nubians were Black. In fact I’ve never seen anything said to the contrary. When TV documentaries refer to Egypt’s Black pharaohs, they usually refer to the period when the country was conquered and ruled by Nubian kings. I honestly don’t know who these people are that assert that the Nubians were White, unless it’s some of the White writers the Afro-centrists have discovered in their search for suitable sources.

This pseudo-scholarship is spreading massively. The book notes the large number of university departments teaching it, as well as college and private schools and the torrent of books published, some of them also aimed at schools. It’s alarming that such pseudo-scholarship has become so widespread. And rather than liberating, as Afrocentric scholars believe, he makes the point that the subject is deeply racist, drawing on the same sources as White racists.

But rather than be angered by it, he finds it immensely sad.

The Experiences of Enslaved Africans in the Past and Today

January 24, 2022

One of the extremely positive features of Sean Stillwell’s Slavery and Slaving in African History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2014) is that includes short descriptions and quotations from slaves, slavers and slave masters in Africa describing their careers and situation. There was a striking variety of slave systems in Africa. In some societies, slaves were acquired for use and soldiers and could rise to high social rank through their connections to powerful chiefs., One of these was the Sokoto royal slave Dan Rimi Nuhu. The book states

‘At the end of the nineteenth century, during a civil was in Kano (located in what is now northern Nigeria) Emirate of the Sokoto Caliphate, Dan Rimi Nuhu, a powerful royal slave official, soldier, and titleholder, crowned the rebel pretender, Yusufu, as emir. Nuhu had long supported Yusufu’s cause and claim. Nuhu was a well-known and powerful slave i8n the palace, but he had joined the war camp of Yusufu early on in the struggle. When Nuhu arrived on horseback, Yusufu said, “Our trip is successful, our trip is successful since Nuhu has joined us, he has joined our camp!” Thereafter, Nuhu transformed Yusufu’s military camp into the proper seat of a rival emir. He gave Yusufu the royal regalia and insisted that he follow Kano court protocol. With Nuhu’s support the rebels later took the Kano throne. Afterward, the royal slaves and their families who supported the new emir gained a substantial amount of power.’ ( pp.89-90).

Others were not so well treated.

‘Msatulwa Mwachitete grew up in Chitete, located in central East Africa, to the west of Lake Malawai, in the house of his father, who had twelve wives. Their home was attacked numerous times by Mkomas of the Inamwanga, who regularly carried off women and children into slavery after setting fire to surrounding villages. During one such attack, Msatulwa was captured, along with his mother and brother. He was taken some distance from his home and given as a slave to Mitano. Msatulwa was forced to grind corn, cut firewood, cook, hoe fields, and fetch water, but was eventually given to another person, who treated him better. In the end Msatulwa found his way home after running away.’

Horrifically, slavery isn’t a thing of the past. The Islamists that have seized power in one part of Libya after the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafy have reopened the slave markets, selling the Black migrants who have travelled north in the hope of reaching Europe. Slave markets have also reopened in Uganda. The book also gives the testimony of Ahok Ahok, an enslaved Dinka woman, given to Anti-Slavery International. She was captured and forced into slavery during the Sudanese civil war in the ’90s.

‘Our family was captured about six years ago [i.e., about 1994] when we were already fleeing north and had crossed into the North into Kordofan. I was captured with my son, Akai, and my two daughters, this one called Abuk … who was about eight at the time, and a younger one, about two. We were taken by a tribe called Humr [i.e. Misseriya Humr], who split the three of us up. The man who took me subsequently sold me on to some other nomads to look after cattle, for about 130 Sudanese Pounds. I had to look after their cows and spent about six years with them before I managed to escape to Makaringa village…. Meanwhile my three children had been taken by others. For six years, until I reached Makaringa village, I had no news of them. When I reached the village, my son Akai heard where I was and joined me there. He is with us at this CEAWC centre. We then contacted the Dinka Committee and they were able to find my daughter Abuk, who had been renamed Khadija. She had initially been put to work looking after livestock, but had got into trouble when some animals had escaped – she was too little to look after them. After that she was employed as a domestic servant. She hardly speaks any Dinka language now, only Arabic… I still have no news of my youngest daughter and am still hoping to find her.’ (211-2).

The book also gives the names of some of the African organisations set up to help slaves. These include Timidria in Niger, the Dinka Committee in Sudan; El Hor (Free Man), set up in the 1970s by former slaves in Mauretania; and SOS-Esclaves, set up in 1995. These organisations face continuing difficulties to fight slavery and improve conditions for former slaves, as shown by an additional piece of testimony:

‘It is uphill work…. Some of their members have been imprisoned. Seeking help through the courts is usually useless. Sharia courts maintain that slavery is legal. Since no laws have been passed, laying down penalties for enslavement or detailing the rights of slaves, other courts and local officials maintain that they have jurisdiction if slaves bring cases for custody of their children or try to establish their right to remain on the land they farm. Former owners may claim the property even of freed slaves when they die.’ (213).

These slaves are not going to get any help from the western advocates of Postcolonial and Critical Race Theory, because these disciplines are exclusively focused on White racism and the horrors of White colonialism. I’ve mentioned that feminists in India and the Middle East have been bitterly critical about the refusal of the activists and scholars supporting these forms of Critical Theory to criticise the treatment of women and LGBTQ folk in these countries. Indeed, Indian progressives have attacked these postmodern ideologies for giving support to the most reactionary elements of these societies on the grounds that, as they are part of these societies’ traditional structures and not the product of western colonialism, they are exempt from criticism. And you could see the attitude in a speech given by Barbara Barnaby, the head of the British branch of Black Lives Matter to a fringe meeting of the Labour party last summer. She criticised the resurgence of slavery in Libya, because this was a product of Blair’s colonialism. But she didn’t condemn it elsewhere in Africa, where it is the product of indigenous forces. Her demand that Britain and the other European countries was based on the abuse of the peoples of the global south during colonialism, but made no mention or criticism of the tyranny, corruption and poverty of African rulers and regimes that is behind much of the migration to Europe.

This isn’t, as Kate Maltby tried to claim in the I a few years ago, an attempt to avoid being diverted from the campaign for equality and social justice in the west into criticism and activism against non-European slavery. It is the product of a profoundly racist ideology that sees slavery and other human rights abuses as only worth fighting if they are committed by Whites.

Barnaby, Black Lives Matter and similar organisations may have the best intentions, but their exclusive focus of White racism is actively hindering real anti-racism and campaigns to eradicate modern slavery.

History Debunked on the Comparative Lack of Interest in British Asian History

December 17, 2021

This is a related video to the one I put up from Simon Webb’s History Debunked this afternoon, which discussed how the Beeb had race-swapped the characters in their adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days. Phileas Fogg’s servant, Passepartout, is now Black, but the leading lady, who is Indian in the book, is now White. ‘Cause you can’t have two non-White leads apparently. Or Blacks must be given preference over Asians when it comes to casting non-White roles. In this video Webb discusses the case of Hsien Fan Sun, a Chinese gent who worked as a librarian at the court of James II. If Sun had been Black, then knowledge of him would have been promoted as it has been about Mary Seacole and John Blank, the Black trumpeter at the Tudor court. But he isn’t, because he’s Chinese. It’s another example of how, to Webb, diversity means primarily Black people. Which left me wondering why this should be so.

Racism to and Enslavement of Asian Indentured Workers

Asians have suffered their share of western racism and enslavement. During the infamous ‘coolie trade’, Asian workers from India and China were recruited as indentured labourers to work on plantations in the Caribbean, Fiji and elsewhere to replace the Black slaves, who had been emancipated. They worked in horrendous conditions, which in many cases were worse than those endured by the Black slaves. The system was widely denounced by Indian nationalists and humanitarians, including the Anglican Church and leading politicos, as ‘A New System of Slavery’. Which is the title of an excellent book on it by Hugh Tinker, published by one of the Indian presses. There were riots against the coolie trade in India and China, and the British authorities were also keen to stamp out the enslavement of Asians. The Indian police raided warehouses where Indians were being forcibly confined after they had been kidnapped, or tricked into signing indenture papers. It was such a scandal that the government issued a series of regulations demanding that Asian labourers should have access to an interpreter and understand the terms and conditions of the contract, that there should be a minimum level of acceptable living conditions aboard ships, children should be with women rather than left with the men, and a minimum number of women should emigrate with the male workers. There should also be opportunities for correspondence home and the remittance of money. I think the Britiish government first discussed the recruitment of the Chinese in particular in 1816 or so. They wanted replacements for the Black slaves, and the Chinese were decided upon because they were hardworking and less likely to complain or rebel. The prejudice against Chinese workers continued into the 20th century, when the early Labour party at one meeting denounced the government’s ‘Chinese slavery’ and put up a picture of a Chinese man. There were anti-Chinese riots in 1909, although this was caused by British firms sacking their White employees and replacing them with Chinese during an industrial dispute.

The Asian Presence in British and European History

There isn’t a total lack of interest in the Asian presence in British history. The book Under the Imperial Carpet, whose editors were Asian, also discussed Asian British history. Before the present set of ethnic minority MPs were elected in the ’70s and ’80s, Britain had BAME MPs. Webb put up a video about an Indian rajah, who became a Conservative MP in the 19th century. Other Asians became Liberal and even Communist MPs later in the early 20th. I’m not entirely surprised by the presence of Sun at James II’s court. This was the age when Europe was expanding, not just across the Atlantic, but also into Asia. The Jesuits were establishing missions in China, and scientific and technical knowledge flowed back and forth. I think the Chinese were impressed by European clockmaking, while Europeans were impressed by the Chinese skill at making automatons. By the following century upper class Europeans were consuming tea, Chinese porcelain, decorating their homes with wallpaper and furniture with Chinese art and motifs. Chinese literature was also being translated into European languages. The great religious sceptic, David Hume, read at least one Chinese novel. What impressed him was not how different it was, but how it was comprehensible, given the difference between Chinese and European culture.

Asian Stars on British Television

There are and have been Asian actors and presenters on British TV. I’ve mentioned Anita Rani, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Adil Ray in my previous post. But before them there was David Yip way back in the ’70s, who starred as The Chinese Detective. Dino Shafeek and Andy Ho appeared as the Indian and Burmese staff in the comedy It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum. The classical Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar gained widespread popularity among the Hippy crowd through his friendship with Beatle George Harrison. He’s said since that this wasn’t altogether beneficial, as you should approach classical Indian music with the same attitude you approach western classical music, rather than listen to it like pop. And were any number of western groups taking over oriental instruments, like sitars, and rhythms. This in turn led to the rise of World Music, a genre that encompasses music and its performers from across continents, and which includes both traditional and more modern forms.

And there is an interest in recovering an Asian, as well as Black British past. The Black rights and history organisation with whom I briefly corresponded when I was working at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum was the Black and Asian Studies Association. Researchers on Islam in Britain, when I was studying the religion at College in the 1980s, were particularly interested in the discovery of tombs with inscription in Arabic dating from the 17th century in Yorkshire. A more recent programme on the Barbary Pirates on Radio 4 in the early part of this century suggested instead that they may have been the graves of indigenous White Brits, who had been captured by the north African pirates and forcibly converted to Islam before either escaping or being ransomed. And a year or so ago there was a programme on Radio 3 about the Muslim servant of one of the ministers responsible for carrying through the Reformation over here. There have also been history books written about ‘The Muslim Discovery of Europe’. With the rise of capitalism, the stock exchange and the nascent consumer culture in the 18th century came popular ballads celebrating how people of all races and creeds, Jew, Christian and Turk, were all united in the peaceful work of making money. I don’t think there’s any shortage of material. My great-grandfather was a docker, and I can remember my grandmother telling me about the lascar and Chinese sailors that came into Bristol docks. But in general Webb is right: as a rule diversity means Blacks rather than Asians. Why is this?

Blacks More Determined than Asians to Be A Part of Mainstream British Culture?

I think some of it may be that Blacks have a greater determination to be a conspicuous part of western culture than Asians. Blacks have certainly formed a large part of the British and American entertainment industries since White youth started tuning into Jazz in the 1920s. There were Black screen actors, although quite often the roles they were given were demeaning before Sidney Poitier revolutionised the portrayal of Blacks on screen, paving the way for contemporary Black leading men. But then, so did Bruce Lee and stars of Chinese martial arts cinema like Jackie Chan and Jet Li. And some of us still remember the TV adaptations of the Chinese classics The Water Margin and Monkey, the latter based on Wu Cheng-en’s epic novel.

I wonder if some of it may be that some Asian cultures are more inward looking, and likely to look more toward their homelands and its culture for their roots and identity than Britain. Please note: I am certainly not suggesting that they are somehow less British than the rest of us. But I can remember coming across an academic, ethnographic study British Asians entitled The Myth of Return. This probably took its title from the initial conviction among many Asian immigrants that they were coming here only to make enough money so that they could afford to retire back to their home countries in comfort. This aspiration certainly wasn’t confined to them. Many Black West Indians also shared it, as did the Irish correspondent to the Groan whose letter began, ‘Sir, I am an Irishman, who came to Britain to make enough money to go back to Ireland again.’ In the ’70s there was a difference in integration between Muslim and Christian Pakistanis. Both groups were equally Pakistani in their culture at home, but the Christians were far more integrated into wider British culture. For example, their children mixed at school with the White children. By contrast ethnographers found that the Muslims took their children straight to school and straight back, and really didn’t allow them to share the same afterschool activities as their White classmates. This might explain why there were Islamist segregationists, who wanted there to be self-governing Muslim enclaves in Britain and Belgium, with Arabic as the official language, governed by shariah law. I hasten to add that things are rather different now. There was a Big Iftar around the country, a giant feast marking the end of Ramadan, celebrated by the Muslim community, who also invited their non-Muslim neighbours to partake. And polls have shown that only five percent of British Muslims want shariah law. But I think the Asian community may be more likely to get their entertainment from their ancestral countries through the Internet, satellite TV and video and DVD.

Asians More Culturally Confident?

I also wonder if part of the answer is that Asians, and specifically Indians and Chinese, may be more culturally confident than western Blacks. India and China were highly advanced, literate civilisations with histories going back millennia. A glance through books on the history of inventions and mathematics shows any number of works and innovations by Arab, Persian, Indian and Chinese scholars. The first instance of plastic surgery, for example, comes from 8-9th century India, when one of the leading surgeons repaired the nose of a Indian princes. Muslim mathematicians and scientists studied astronomy, alchemy, medicine. And the Chinese had printing – though not with movable type, that was definitely Gutenberg’s invention – gunpowder, rockets, paper money and toilet paper, to name but a few. Sometimes this cultural confidence has formed the basis for humour. One of the characters on Goodness, Gracious Me – or was it the Kumars at No. 42? was a father, who was excessively proud of his home country’s achievements. He shouted out ‘India!’ every time various inventions were mentioned. I also remember one episode of Lovejoy in which the dodgy antique dealer was in negotiations with a Hong Kong businessman. This man was also conscious of how his country had led the world in science and invention for centuries, to the point where he believed the Chinese had more or less invented everything. At one point this is too much for his interpreter, who says to him, ‘Oh no, Mr -, I don’t think we invented motorcycles’.

Black African Cultures Less Well-Known and Admired

This is in contrast to Africa, whose great civilisations and monuments are less appreciated. Ancient Egypt has been claimed as Black civilisation by the Afro-Centrists, but this is controversial and they could well be wrong. Nubia and Meroe in what is now the Sudan died out centuries ago. Christian Nubia was conquered by the Muslims. It’s predecessors in the Sudan unfortunately spoke languages that are now extinct. The Nubians took over the culture and alphabet of the Ancient Egyptians. Frustratingly, we can read their inscriptions but have no idea what they mean until the appearance of a Rosetta Stone that will give us the key to translating them. Abyssinia was a literate, Christian empire while the Kiswahili were also an advanced Islamic civilisation. As was Mali and other states in northwest Africa. But I think these have been seen as the exceptions rather than the rule. Although many of the civilisations of north and Saharan Africa were capable of building large structures, like house and mosques from mud brick, I suspect the popular image of Africa remains that of mud huts. And until the introduction of Islam and Christianity on the continent, many of these peoples were illiterate. The result has been that the attitude of many western scholars towards African civilisation was wholly negative. The book Colour and Colour Prejudice, by the last British governor of Ghana, has page after page of quotes from various western scholars, almost all of whom declare that African culture is worthless and that the continent’s people have discovered nothing. Obvious this has been and is being challenged by Black activists and scholars.

Blacks and Affirmative Action

Much of the promotion of Blacks as a specific group has come from concern at the poor conditions of the Black community in America and Britain. Other groups have also suffered racism. I can remember one of my uncles telling me with disgust about the horrible ‘jokes’ the other White workers played on an Indian comrade. As a rule, I think Blacks are at the bottom of the racial hierarchy when it comes to academic performance and employment. Above them, but still disadvantaged, are Muslims. Indians are about the same level as Whites, or just below, while Chinese actually outperform us. Black history as a specific subject in schools is being promoted as the solution to the problems of the Black community. If Black people were aware of their achievements and presence in American and British history, then they would develop the self-respect and confidence to perform better at school, and challenge the racism that still sees them as outsiders and foreigners. Unfortunately, this has led to Black activists claiming the credit for Blacks for scientific achievements that came from others. I think the entertainment industry is part of this drive for Black empowerment too. I have a feeling that some of roles created for Black performers are intended to provide positive images of Blacks as just as urbane and middle class as everyone else. Or proper, respectable working class. I’ve no doubt its done to challenge the negative racist stereotypes Whites may hold, while at the same time hold up positive role models to the Black community. To show that Black people also live in families with fathers, where the parents are respectable, upstanding citizens who work to support their children and give them the best life they can. I’m not aware that family breakdown is the same issue in Asian communities as it is amongst Blacks and the White poor, so some of the issues that have led to a specific emphasis on Blacks in diversity may simply not be as pressing. It thus seems to me that, in general, Asians may be so much more confident in their culture that they don’t see the same urgency in establishing and insisting on their historic presence in Europe.

Blacks More Vociferous and Forceful in Attacking Racism

I also think it may also come from Blacks complaining the most forcefully about racism. One of the key events in the introduction of positive discrimination in Britain were the 1980s/81 race riots, where Black communities in Bristol, Brixton in London and Toxteth erupted in rioting. It led to various official reports, which recommended affirmative action programmes to give greater opportunities to Blacks, as was being done at the same time in America. There have been protests in the Asian community, and interethnic violence between Asians and Whites, along with Asian anti-racist activism. But I don’t recall the Asians rioting in the same way Black Brits did. And the protests held by Britain’s Muslims seem to be about specifically Islamic issues, like the publication of the Satanic Verses, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and general Islamophobia, rather than issues like employment or education although those have also been present. As a result, I think it’s probably true that Asians are less represented than Blacks in moves for ethnic diversity, although it should be stressed that they aren’t completely absent.

But these are just my ideas based on my own impressions. I may be wrong, and there may be other factors involved. I’d be interested to know what others think about it.

As an example of a TV series with an Asian leading man, here’s the titles to the Chinese Detective, starring David Yip, which I found on Robert Telfer’s channel on YouTube. Since then we’ve had Luther, starring the awesome Idris Elba as a Black detective. I like Elba – I think he’s a great actor, who could easily play Bond. I haven’t watched Luther, however, as the crimes he investigates all seem too grim and ‘orrible, like the serial killers tracked by Linda La Plante’s heroines. But perhaps it might be time once again for an Asian detective.