The transatlantic slave trade resulted in an estimated 6.3 million people becoming enslaved and transported from West Africa to the Americas. The slave castle in Ghana’s coastal city of Elmina stands witness to the incalculable suffering inflicted upon the people of the region by the savage enterprise. It also serves as a reminder of the multitudes of human sufferings that exist today, and insists that we work to end them.
You can’t change shit by ridin’ the fence
We must… reject the view that only indifferent men are impartial men. We must repudiate the degenerate conception of individual intelligence, which confuses open minds with empty ones.
– Bertrand Russell
Whether the issue is slavery or colonialism, voting rights for women or child labour, when it comes to disputes which have been settled we find it very easy to declare where we stand. We aren’t so sure about which side to take, however, when it comes to ongoing disputes. In matters of great importance to the world a large amount of blame for failure or delay in reaching agreeable ends can be placed on the tendency of most people to remain indifferent.
Just as we look back today and wonder how it could be that apartheid officially existed in South Africa not two decades ago, those who come after us will wonder why we stood by and watched as the climate change crisis unfolded, as Israel-Palestine conflict lingered on, and as the issues which concern development in poor countries went unaddressed.
And GE is gonna flex and try to annex the truth
He the Negro is but a grown up child, and must be governed as a child, not as a lunatic or criminal. The master occupies toward him the place of parent or guardian. We shall not dwell on this view, for no one will differ with us who thinks as we do of the negro’s capacity, and we might argue till dooms-day in vain, with those who have a high opinion of the negro’s moral and intellectual capacity.
– George Fitzhugh
The masses tend to be indifferent not as a result of some sort of natural inclination. Rather they tend to be indifferent because those who benefit from the status quo work very hard to make it so. In the days of slavery the writings of people like Fitzhugh served the same purpose as the more recent propaganda championed by the tobacco industry. The same could be said about the misinformation being spread today about the supposed lack of evidence for climate change. Another example from today is the insistence of Canadian mining companies that regulation is not necessary, and that voluntary agreements will suffice, in discouraging them from doing harm to the communities in which they operate in the South.
Joseph Cullman, CEO of P hillip Morris is a big fan of small babies (1971)
Every slave story, present tense
Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.
– Mother Jones
The only satisfactory way to honour those who suffered in the past is to learn from their struggles and apply the lessons in the struggles of today. One easily acquired lesson from history is: If we hope to make the world a better place, we have to be willing to take sides. (Needless to say, any decision taken on where one stands on an issue should be an informed one). When we don’t take a stand we end up giving tacit support to the status quo.
 Rachel Naylor, Ghana, Oxford: Oxfam, 2000
 The Coup, Ride the Fence <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NafraPA7YeU>
 Bertrand Russell, Autobiography, “Speech to First Meeting of Member of the War Crimes Tribunal, November 13, 1966”
 Rage Against the Machine, Wind Below < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o_xi7hJ2MY>
 George Fitzhugh, The Universal Law of Slavery
 The Coup, Everythang < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p9sRPg_Qpw>
Both images are from Wikipedia