Lest we forget: far from being a benevolent saviour, the British empire was based on the exploitation, murder and devastation of people across the globe. Some notable atrocities include, but are by no means limited to: transatlantic slavery, famines in the British Raj, and brutal settler colonial regimes in Zimbabwe and Kenya. Hundreds of millions of people died as a result of Britain’s vicious regime. The empire collapsed after campaigns, rebellions and revolutions from the people who were oppressed by Britain. The natives did not happily accept colonial rule; they resisted at every turn because they understood the cost of the system to their nations.Walter Rodney’s classic book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, goes into forensic detail as to how colonialism set back the continent by creating political and economic systems that impoverished Africa, with the direct purpose of enriching Europe. Even after independence, Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of liberated Ghana, explained in the 1960s that the economic policies of the country had an “Alice in Wonderland craziness about them”, with Britain extracting all the wealth from the resources of the nation.It is essential that the legacy of the British empire is understood because it still plays a key role in the world today. The devastation of nations by European colonialism goes a long way to explaining extreme poverty and conflict in many parts of the world, and is continued in manifestly unjust trade relations. Reminiscing about the days of empire and pining for Britain to be great again is a device to avoid any reckoning with Britain’s terrible colonial legacy and debt.Perhaps a recognition of the brutality, violence and horror at the dark heart of empire would shake the nation out of its postcolonial melancholia. To acknowledge the dark side of colonialism, however, would destroy the nostalgia that is such a strong part of British imperial identity. It is far easier to get lost in national pride from Olympic success than to reckon with Britain’s history and real place in the world.
Nigel Farage, the anti-EU British politician and former Ukip leader, will appear with Donald Trump at a rally on Wednesday, a week after the US presidential candidate branded himself “Mr Brexit” and tapped one of the leading American supporters of Brexit to run his campaign.The Trump campaign confirmed that Farage would appear with Trump at an evening rally in Jackson, Mississippi, to tell US voters “the Brexit story” of how he triumphed over the electoral odds. Farage will not endorse Trump.Trump hopes to ride to victory a populist wave of nationalist enthusiasm comparable to the movement behind Britain’s June vote to leave the European Union. As leader at the time of Ukip, Farage was a key promoter of the Brexit.
Ostensibly, the initial attacks were the apex of ongoing negative reaction to Jones starring in the all-female remake of Ghostbusters. Trolls went after her looks, her skin, her body – everything that makes her who she is, and makes her black. She was called an ape. The attacks were unequivocally racist. Twitter issued a bland, cookie-cutter response.But this all didn’t happen just because she did a movie. It was because she is a statuesque dark-skinned black woman, sister in spirit and posture to Nina Simone; elegant in her vocal command, towering with a feverish, ebullient talent that cannot be contained. It’s asinine to say that the racists who are targeting Leslie Jones are Ghostbuster purists, and that’s really what this is all about.And while the New York Times reported that Jones “and her white cast mates have endured months of criticism since the announcement of a reboot of the blockbuster franchise,” those same white cast mates were not called a “big lipped coon”. What stopped one or all of these actors from saying during one of the myriad talk shows they appeared on: “You know what’s not cool? Racism. You know why? Because it targets and maims people we love and respect and live on the planet with.”The film’s director, Paul Feig, did come to her defense, tweeting: “Leslie Jones is one of the greatest people I know. Any personal attacks against her are attacks against us all.” But again, if it really were an attack against us all – assuming he means himself and the rest of the mostly white cast – and it actually felt like an attack in the same way these feel like attacks to Leslie Jones, you can be sure he’d be doing more than tweeting about it. You’ll note he didn’t mention the R-word.Here’s the thing: those who limit their allyship to tweeting their support when we’ve been targets of online racism have absolutely no idea how far removed they are, and yet how intricately tied they are to this thing that is killing us. Racism’s unceasing power lies in the way in which it can weaponise words: now, in 140 characters.By all means up the Twitter support, which is all well and good, but then go deeper. Particularly those in positions of power or who have public platforms – call your friends, call your state representatives, send group emails and reply all to everyone; be vigorous in your accountability and encourage the same in those around you, call into radio shows, launch Kickstarter campaigns, think about ways you can help dismantle racism all the time. Because it is happening all the time.