Sun, 26 May 2024

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By Baroness Smith of Llanfaes
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Shadow Equality Minister Accuses Race Report Of "Glorifying" Slave Trade And Demands "Urgent Explanation"

Marsha de Cordova has called for an urgent explanation from ministers

2 min read

Ministers have been urged to give an "urgent" response after its landmark report called for a "new story" about slavery to be taught in schools.

Labour's Marsha de Cordova has called on ministers to "immediately disassociate" themselves from remarks made in the introduction to the government-ordered report which claimed slavery was "not just about profit and suffering".

The foreword, written by race and ethnic disparities commission chair, Dr Tony Sewell claimed child should "reclaim their British heritage" as he dismissed "negative calls" to "decolonise" school curriculums.

"Neither the banning of White authors or token expressions of Black achievement will help to broaden young minds," he wrote.

"We have argued against bringing down statues, instead, we want all children to reclaim their British heritage.

"We want to create a teaching resource that looks at the influence of the UK, particularly during the Empire period. We want to see how Britishness influenced the Commonwealth and local communities, and how the Commonwealth and local communities influenced what we now know as modern Britain."

He added: "There is a new story about the Caribbean experience which speaks to the slave period not only being about profit and suffering but how culturally African people transformed themselves into a re-modelled African/Britain."

But his comments sparked fury from the Labour shadow minister who said the report "glorifies" the slave trade.

De Cordova said: "The government must urgently explain how they came to publish content which glorifies the slave trade and immediately disassociate themselves with these remarks."

Dr Halima Begum, chief executive of the Runnymede Trust told PoliticsHome she was "flabbergasted" by the remarks.

"I'm absolutely flabbergasted to see the Slave Trade apparently redefined as 'the Caribbean Experience'; as though it's something Thomas Cook should be selling – a one-way shackled cruise to purgatory," she said.

"The cultural deafness of this report is only going to become clearer in the coming days and weeks."

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