UNESCO’s designated International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade has been marked by the opening of the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool - the first museum of its type to open in the UK.
The museum features dynamic, powerful and moving displays about the story of the transatlantic slave trade, uncovering the largely hidden account of the exploitation of Africa and Africans.
Displays address the legacy of transatlantic slavery, both contemporary as well as historic, reflecting issues that are relevant to Britain today, as well as Western Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean and Africa.
One can, however, safely assume, though this writer has not seen the museum as yet, safely from press releases and such, that not a single word will be mentioned in the entire museum about the first slaves that were sent to the Caribbeans and the Colonies, well, before any African Blacks, namely the Romani, the Gypsy, the the British Isles.
Well before any African Blacks were ever sent as slaves to the sugar estates of Barbados or elsewhere in the English-occupied Caribbean Islands, Romani, Gypsy, were sent there as slaves; men, women and children, snatched from the streets and byways of the British Isles. Many a British trading house became rich from this Gypsy slave trade because the government of the day paid them for hunting down and rounding up the Gypsies, they also paid them to ship them out to the colonies and then the traders were paid yet again by the planters for the slaves that were bought by them. Nice little earner, for sure. But this is not a story ever mentioned.
Slavery can obviously only be a Black thing, with all the political correct pressure groups, in the same way as the Holocaust can only be a Jewish thing. No place for the Gypsy in either despite the fact that in both cases Gypsies were the first to suffer.
But in each case the fate of the Gypsy is suppressed and those that wish to mention it are ridiculed or silenced in that there material will not be published; definitely not when it comes to the slavery of Romanichals from England, Manush from France and Gitanos and Ciganos from Spain and Portugal respectively. There is a lobby out there, mush as with regards to the Romani Holocaust, that want to keep slavery a uniquely Black African thing in the same way as another lobby pushes all the time in keeping the Holocaust and Pogroms a uniquely Jewish thing.
Well, I am sorry to upset the applecart here but neither even is uniquely to those groups; the Gypsy has a part in it.
What was the reason for Romanichals from the British Isles being sold into slavery? The same reason why the Rom went to the Nazi concentration camps; it was ethnic cleansing and ultimately it was intended to destroy the Romani People.
Maybe some people would like to think about that but, alas, I doubt it; we are only dirty Gyppos in their eyes.
© M V Smith, August 2007