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What Happens When Meghan Markle’s Blackness Losses its Sparkle?

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has been hailed as a pivotal moment for multicultural Britain. But Dr William Ackah (Department of Geography) argues that it is just another fleeting false dawn and there will be little lasting, positive impact for Black Britons.

Symbols are important. For some people, seeing Meghan Markle marry into the monarchy, while a Black preacher expounded the word and a Black Choir sang at the ceremony, was viewed as ushering in a new area of racialised harmony and black cultural acceptance at all levels of British society. If blackness is acceptable to the monarchy, then surely it can be embraced by everyone? One can envisage that cascading out from the memories of the day; TV production companies will make documentaries on relationships across cultural and racial boundaries; there will be operas and plays about mixed cultural and racialised identities and new research council funding streams on identity, relationships and difference. Once again, black culture will be examined, explored, explained, celebrated, debated and mined by White people as something new and exotic.

In contrast to the negativity surrounding racialised minorities due to fears over migration and religious and cultural differences, Markle’s Blackness will provide the space for more and more elements of White society to once again be comfortable in talking about how they have Black friends, or how they are down with Stormzy’s lyrics, had a Black choir sing at their wedding and rap lyrically about their love of Jerk chicken. This, I envisage, will be the new language – at least for a while – that will showcase multi-cultural Britain. Meanwhile, the structures of institutionalised racism that leaves the majority of Britain’s black communities at the margins of British society remain unchanged.

We have been here before. Black culture is cool for a time; it is supposedly edgy, hip, and transgressive, and it is useful for British elites to be associated with it in order to project an image of modernity, tolerance and cultural relevance. When London made its bid for the Olympics, it projected a powerful image of itself as a global city a multicultural, multi-ethnic place with a vision of East London as a space and place of opportunity for Black communities and the descendants of migrants from all over the world. This was in contrast to the French bid – fronted by White men and regarded as old fashioned and tired. It could be said that it was the Black and Minority Ethnic Cultural presence that won it for London. Fast forward to today and in East London we have a Queen Elizabeth Park, a Westfield Shopping Complex, the great and the good of elite educational/arts/cultural institutions are moving into the area taking advantage of all the facilities and opportunities. But what has happened to those Black poster children of the Olympic vision that were the catalyst for the change? They apparently have lost their ‘sparkle’ and are being forced out of their homes, businesses and communities and are being erased from the collective consciousness of post-Olympic East London.

Britain has a long history of adoring high profile African Americans and treating them regally whilst perpetrating systematic racialised injustices against its Black British population. Muhammad Ali was a source of fascination and immense entertainment when he boxed and toured Britain in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Martin Luther King was admired and lauded when he preached in Westminster Abbey and garnered honorary doctorates here in the ‘60s. Paul Robeson the legendary singer, actor and political activist was a huge star of the stage here in the late 1920s and early ‘3’s, and spoke to huge admiring crowds in many parts of the country. The same is true of the African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass who spoke to thousands of people across Britain in the late 19th Century. And if it was thought that Meghan Markle was the first to bring gospel music to the attention of royalty one would be mistaken. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, an African American choral group from a Black college in Nashville, sang for Queen Victoria in 1873 and toured Britain and Europe, singing for the elites who were both intrigued and moved by the power of their renditions of the Spirituals.

The British establishment has used and abused black people for centuries, whilst occasionally celebrating and feting them with adoration and praise. The Monarchy and the Church of England, both central to the representation of Blackness as a celebratory theme at the wedding, have been deeply complicit in these enterprises. It was royal charters that endorsed the heinous enterprises of transatlantic enslavement and colonisation and the Church ‘owned’ and profited from the labour of enslaved Africans. And through their missionary endeavours they provided the velvet glove of justification for the iron fist of economic, cultural and social brutalisation of many nations and people in Africa and Asia.

These historical realities, and not just historical niceties, have their contemporary manifestations in the treatment of black and minority ethnic bodies in incidences such as the Grenfell and Windrush scandals and the marginalisation and lack of equitable treatment that Black communities receive here. British institutions want to be portrayed as contributing to a world of love and cultural celebration, but they refuse to deal with the legitimate claims of Black communities for justice and reparations. While these claims for justice continue to be ignored, talk of the wedding as an example of Britain’s successful multiculturalism is, to be frank, bulls**t (for example, Douglas Murray ‘s Spectator blog Meghan Markle and the myth of ‘racist’ Britain Spectator, dated 21 May)

British institutions – political, economic, religious and cultural – are manure-peddling institutions. A few Black flowers do grow and flourish against all the odds in these institutional spaces. And when the Black exceptionalisms do emerge, they are asked to sing, play, run, jump, speak and represent the nation. Some are given knighthoods and honours, and some people do manage to have meaningful relationships in this environment. The institutions then use these small success stories to portray themselves as smelling of roses in relation to ‘diversity’ issues. What the institutions fail to acknowledge, and systematically address, are the numbers of Black people for whom the institutional manure is toxic. And how in some cases the institutional environment leads to death, imprisonment, educational underachievement, poor life expectancy, limited employment prospects, lack of political representation, deportation, poor mental health …. the list goes on and on. It needs more than an interracial romance, a few songs, some mentoring schemes and a Stephen Lawrence day to compensate for all the racist manure and meaningless diversity schemes that British institutions have been peddling in order to placate both minorities and the majority in this country. What Black people require are concrete manifestations of compensations for past wrongs and guarantees of formal equality and justice moving forward. All this other stuff, as beautiful as it looks and happy as it makes people feel, is just bulls**t. Same old empire, just different clothes!

Our ancestors, as enslaved and colonial subjects, built and paid for the maintenance of this system – and now, in the form of tax, we still pay for it. When we complain, we are told look at Meghan, sing and be grateful! Well as far is this country is concerned the song is this: “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child a long way from home”. I wait to be culturally orphaned again, once the fascination with Meghan’s Blackness loses its sparkle.

William Ackah, Birkbeck, University of London

Diaspora Dialogues in Palestine

Rev. Waltrina Middleton who served as a primary host of the 2017 Transatlantic Roundtable conference at Howard University will be facilitating a “Diaspora Dialogues in Palestine” immersion visit as part of her organization, Walking on Water Global Ministries.  Transatlantic Roundtable is passing along details below about this important global justice learning opportunity.

Diaspora Dialogues in Palestine will depart Thursday, March 08, 2018 (arriving Friday, March 09) and sojourn to what has historically been called “The Holy Land” through Sunday, March 18 (arriving Sunday, March 18), exploring narratives from Israeli and Palestinian communities. The delegation will depart from Washington, DC and arrive in Tel Aviv. Upon arrival the group will travel to Jerusalem and also explore Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah and other sacred sites to engage dialogue on human rights, social justice, faith, education, and the socio-political landscape of the region. The all-inclusive journey will cost $1,995.00 (based on double occupancy), and includes the following:

Roundtrip Air Travel from Washington, DC
Housing (double/9 nts)
Meals(breakfast, dinner, most lunches and snacks)
Programming/Speakers/Interpreters/Guides
Local Transportation
*Single occupancy is $175 additional premium cost. Gratuity is not included. Participants are encouraged to provide gratuity to drivers, wait staff, and guides.

For further information, please contact Rev. Middleton at: wnmiddleton@gmail.com

Grant Awarded to Assess Reconciliation Practices in East Africa

Dr. Elias Opongo, director of the Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations in Nairobi, and Dr. R. Drew Smith, Transatlantic Roundtable coordinator of research and publications, have been awarded a $50,000 two-year grant to assess cultural and Christian practices of reconciliation in South Sudan and northern Uganda. The grant comes through the “African Theological Advance” initiative of Calvin College’s Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, which is an initiative funded by the Templeton Foundation. Opongo and Smith, with a team of local researchers, will interview persons affected by recent conflicts in South Sudan and northern Uganda and also church leaders and community leaders engaged in peace and reconciliation efforts within those contexts. This research project aligns with Transatlantic Roundtable’s heightened emphasis on regional research, and the findings and learnings from this research group will be a very intentional part of the broader research dialogues that will take place at the 2019 TRRR conference to be hosted at Hekima College.

What Rises Out of Uprising?: Baltimore Uprising and African Diaspora Connections

TRANSATLANTIC ROUNDTABLE TRAVELS TO BALTIMORE FOR IMMERSION TOUR AND DIALOGUE WITH LOCAL GRASSROOTS LEADERS.

TRANSATLANTIC ROUNDTABLE TRAVELS TO BALTIMORE FOR IMMERSION TOUR AND DIALOGUE WITH LOCAL GRASSROOTS LEADERS.

What Rises Out of Uprising?
Baltimore Uprising and African Diaspora Connections
MONDAY, JUNE 26TH
WWW.FAITHINTHECITY.ORG / WWW.BMOREUNITED.ORG

Faith in the City is a monthly gathering in Baltimore that explores the intersection between faith and public life.

Baltimore United for Change (BUC) is a coalition of organizations and activists with a long track record of working for social justice in Baltimore. The BUC coalition came together three days after the murder of Freddie Gray, and hit the ground running.


On June 26th as part of the Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race Pre-Conference Jamye Wooten along with Dr. Stephanie Boddie hosted International delegation in Baltimore City. In 2015 after the death of Freddie Gray, Jamye along with local organizers founded Baltimore United for Change. In 2016 he launched Faith in the City, a monthly gathering in Baltimore where faith and public life meet. Faith in the City served as cosponsor of the Roundtable.

The delegation visited Tubman House in Sandtown-Winchester in Baltimore City and Pleasant Hope Baptist Church (Orita’s Cross Freedom School and The Black Church Food Security Network). Tour concluded with a discussion with local and international leaders at the World Trade Center Baltimore.

10 AM: TRRR DELEGATION ARRIVES AT MONDAWMIN MALL
FIRST STOP: Gilmor Homes, Sandtown-Winchester

Gilmor Homes gained national attention after Freddie Gray was arrested there.

The Tubman House, located at 1618 Presbury Street next to Gilmor Homes in Baltimore. A coalition of activists claimed the vacant  rowhouse.

We we will speak with Dominique Stevenson, of Friend of a Friend and founder of Tubman House, along with Mrs. Rhonda, resident of Gilmor Homes and board member of Tubman House and Tawanda Jones, of the West Coalition (Baltimore United for Change) Wooten also serves as a founding board member of Tubman House.

10:30: TRAVEL TO PLEASANT HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH
PLEASANT HOPE IS THE HOME OF ORITAS CROSS FREEDOM SCHOOL AND THE BLACK CHURCH FOOD SECURITY NETWORK FOUNDED BY REV. DR. HEBER BROWN, III. WE SPEAK TO ERIC JACKSON OF BLACK YIELD INSTITUTE WHO WORKS CLOSELY WITH REV. BROWN.

11:00: TRAVEL TO EAST BALTIMORE, JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, 2100 E Madison St Baltimore, MD 21205
IF TIME PERMITS WE CAN TAKE A BRIEF TOUR WITH DR. MARISELA GOMEZ, FORMER DIRECTOR OF SMEAC (Save Middle East Action Committee) IF NOT, DR. GOMEZ WILL JOIN US FOR LUNCH AT THE WORLD TRADE CENTER.

12 NOON: ARRIVE AT WORLD TRADE CENTER, 401 E. Pratt, 21th floor, Baltimore, MD 21202

12:30 LUNCH
1PM -3 PM REFLECTIONS AND WORLD CAFÉ DISCUSSION LED BY JAMYE WOOTEN AND DR. STEPHANIE BODDIE
What Rises Out of Uprising?: Baltimore Uprising and African Diaspora Connections

Policing

Jill P. Carter, Director, Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement (OCRWE)
Dr. Tyrone Powers, activist, scholar, Director, Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Institute, Anne Arundel Community College

 

Youth

Adam Jackson, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, (Baltimore United for Change)

 

Gentrification, Development and Social Dis-location

Dr. Marisela Gomez, Former Director of SMEAC (Save Middle East Action Coalition )
Dr. Raymond Winbush, Institute for Urban Research, Morgan State

 

International Perspectives

Dr. Althea Legal-Miller, Canterbury Christ Church University
Professor Rothney Tshaka, University of South Africa

 

Organizing for Power/Sustainable Change
The Role of Philanthropy – Adar Ayira – Associated Black Charities
Organizing for Power – Dayvon Love, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (Baltimore United for Change)

World Café Discussion

FINAL REMARKS/CONFERENCE DETAILS – R. DREW SMITH/ JAMYE WOOTEN

A Call for Presentations on Religion, Race, and Contested Globalization

As western and westernizing nations have experienced increased socio-cultural diversification, intersectionality, and competition (within and across borders), this has been accompanied by an intensification of domestic and international conflict. This has manifested recently in widespread mobilizations against immigrants and religious minorities, including in 2016 electoral backlashes in the U.S. and UK, and similar mobilizations in France, Austria, and Italy. Against this backdrop, and mindful of increased vulnerability in-general by people of color within these intersections and collisions, the 2017 Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race will be convened in Washington, DC to focus on “Religion, Race, and Contested Globalization.”

Please submit 150-250 word abstracts by February 15, 2017 to Dr. R. Drew Smith (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) rsmith@pts.edu or Dr. William Ackah (Univ. of London) w.ackah@bbk.ac.uk.

DOWNLOAD TRRR BROCHURE

VENUE: Howard University Blackburn Center

      TIME: June 28-30, 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

June 28-30 Conference Registration Details

* General rate: $250 dollars. includes lunch and light refreshments all 3 days.

* Students (full time)/Unwaged: $125—Partial waivers available in some circumstances

* Day rates: $ 100; or for Students/Unwaged: $50

Payment details:

Via a check or money order mailed and made payable to:

Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race

2650 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, #88096

Indianapolis, IN 46208-9998

OR

Credit Card via PayPal (below)


Registration type



Refund Policy (for registration fees):

Through Feb. 28, 2017: 100% refundable

March 1-31: 60% refundable

April-1-May 15: 40% refundable

After May 15: nonrefundable

THE FIRST FIFTY PEOPLE TO COMPLETE REGISTRATION WILL BE ASSURED PARTICIPATION IN THE JUNE 26th COMMUNITY-BASED DIALOGUE AND FACT-FINDING VISIT IN BALTIMORE. PARTICIPATION FOR THOSE REGISTERING AFTER THAT WILL BE ON A SPACE AVAILABLE BASIS.

Conference Accommodations

Participants are encouraged to book the hotel of their choice as soon as possible. June is peak season for visitors to Washington and the demand for affordable hotel rooms will be high. Hotels in Arlington and Crystal City, Virginia may be good options, as are hotels at Dulles Airport and BWI airport (although further away). Please make sure your hotel is accessible to a Metro train stop.

The Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race (TRRR) was founded in 2010 with the aim of bringing together scholars, religious leaders and community activists from across the African diaspora and continent to facilitate dialogue, intellectual output, and activism in the cause of improving the lives of people of African heritage around the world. Though TRRR’s approach is scholarly, its commitment is to advancing informed and progressive responses to persistent racial problems in dialogue and collaboration with broad publics. Our 2016 conference in Washington DC will be the seventh TRRR conference, following successful conferences in Trinidad & Tobago (2016), the UK (2015 and 2012), South Africa (2014 and 2011) and Ghana (2013).

For additional information about conference registration and about TRRR, please visit:

www.religionandrace.org

Persistent Racial Problems: Political, Cultural, and Religious Responses

2016 CONFERENCE

A Call for Presentations on

Persistent Racial Problems:

Political, Cultural, and Religious Responses

 

The 2016 Transatlantic Roundtable will convene in Trinidad and Tobago:

  • 60 years after the watershed election in that nation that consolidated black political empowerment and charted the course for the nation’s 1962 independence, and 50 years after the independence of its southern Caribbean neighbors Barbados and Guyana;
  • 60 years after the launch of a wave of independence in Africa that from Sudan’s independence in 1956 to Lesotho’s in 1966 included 30 sub-Saharan African countries;
  • 60 years after the successful conclusion of the Montogmery Bus Boycott which helped mobilize the nationwide mid-20th century Civil Rights Movment in the USA; and
  • 70 years since the post-World War II beginnings of mass migration from Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia to the UK.

 

Despite the gains in the decades since those historic markers, however, African-descended communities across the globe continue to suffer effects of political, economic and social inequities whose consequences include alarming levels of disease, unemployment, incarceration, and systemic violence. Our 2016 conference will examine public policy responses (including reparations discussions), expressions of cultural resistance, and faith-centered responses (including interfaith). We invite proposals outlining “best-practices” and practical dimensions as well as conceptual and applied scholarly papers that explore these or related themes.

 

Please submit 150-250 word abstracts by EXTENDED DEADLINE April 30, 2016 to Dr. R. Drew Smith (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) rsmith@pts.edu or Dr. William Ackah  (Univ. of London) w.ackah@bbk.ac.uk .

 

 August 3-5 Conference Registration Details

  • General rate: $250 dollars. includes lunch and light refreshments all 3 days.
  • Students/Unwaged/Local participants REDUCED rate: $125—Partial fee waivers available in some circumstances
  • Day rates: $ 100; or for Students/Unwaged/Local participants, $50

 

 Conference AccommodationsHilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Lady Young Road, Port of Spain Trinidad
Single occupancy: $129 (daily rate, plus tax and fees)
Double occupancy: $139 (daily rate, plus tax and fees)
Hotel booking link:
http://www.hilton.com/en/hi/groups/personalized/P/POSHIHH-AMEZIO-20160731/index.jhtml

Pre-Conference Activities, July 31-August 2July 31-August 1, Emancipation Day Activities in Trinidad

July 31, Local worship opportunities in Port of Spain

August 2, Community Immersion Activities

 

Post Conference Activities

Tobago Excursion, beginning August 6

  An  optional excursion to Tobago island will take place following the conference, where conference participants can take in Tobago’s distinctive culture and beautiful beaches.  There will be August 7 worship opportunities at local congregations, and opportunities for local community visits on August 6.  Persons planning to participate can arrange for a July 6th flight from Port of Spain, Trinidad to Tobago, and can return to Port of Spain at their own discretion for connecting flights to their ongoing destinations. 

Recommended hotels:

Turtle Beach Hotel, 1 868 639 2636 or 6607365
Single Room: US$142.76
Double Room: US$261.04
(OR)
Grafton Beach Hotel, 1 868 639 0191
Double Room (incl tax and b/fast): US$188.25

 

CONFERENCE REGISTRATION PAYMENT OPTIONS:

 

Via a check or money order mailed and made payable to:

Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race

2650 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, #88096

Indianapolis, IN 46208-9998

 

Electronic transfer from overseas to TRRR account:

Bank: Chase

Address: 270 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017

Account name: Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race

Account number: 719206703

Routing number: 074000010

SWIFT: CHASUS33

Refund Policy (for registration fees):

Through June 1, 2016: 100% refundable

June 2-July 1: 60% refundable

July 2-July 25: 40% refundable

After July 25: nonrefundable

 

OR BY CREDIT CARD


Registration type




Webinar: A Transatlantic Conversation on Police States, Black Self-Reliance, and Colliding Worlds

TUESDAY, MARCH 3RD
09:00 (EST) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
14:00 UNITED KINGDOM
16:00 SOUTH AFRICA

 

In the age of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, the Marikana miners in South Africa, and the Chibok girls in Nigeria, the Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race will be hosting a transnational conversation on assaults on Black humanity on the African continent and in the Diaspora!

Students, scholars and activists will discuss the role of young people in 21st century social struggles; lessons they’ve learned from past struggles for Black humanity including the anti- colonialism movement in Africa and the Caribbean, the civil rights movement in the US and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

Presenters will share ideas and practices to move us beyond #BlackLivesMatter, to a future where the defense of Black humanity is more than a social struggle, more than a civil rights moment and is a global call for human rights for Black people everywhere.

R. Drew Smith, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
William Ackah, Birkbeck, University of London
Rothney Tshaka, Itumeleng Mothoagae, and Mokhele Madise, University of South Africa
Yolande Cadore, Drug Policy Alliance
David Muir, Roehampton University
Iva Carruthers, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
Danielle Ayers, Friendship West Baptist Church
Jonathan Weaver, Pan African Collective
Jamye Wooten, KineticsLive.com/Friends of the Congo
Vuyani Vellem, University of Pretoria
Allan Boesak, Desmond Tutu Center, Christian Theological Seminary and Butler University

 

Webinar Format
Opening statements from each institutional site (10 minutes)
Student responses from each  institutional site (5 minute)
Dialogue between sites
 
 

YOU ARE INVITED TO LISTEN IN. SPACE IS LIMITED TO 100. PLEASE FILL OUT FORM BELOW TO REQUEST  ACCESS.

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