Why am I blogging about slavery?
I was amazed to hear that anyone thought slavery was a choice, at least on the part of the slaves. That it went on for four hundred years seems irrelevant. It went on so long because a small number of people with wealth and power found it profitable. (By the way, I don’t accept the idea that most British people benefited from it). You might as well say that prison is a choice. In that case, you might be more nearly correct. You have the choice to do or not to do the crime.
How does slavery come into Highwaypersons?
In Highwaypersons, Book II, The King’s Justice, the main characters begin by knowing nothing about the slave trade. During the course of the book, (where they are looking for a missing person, solving a murder and uncovering a plot) they learn about the slave trade from a sailor and from a former slave. They encounter a slave owner and a few of his favourite slaves. They also go on board a slave ship that makes an unscheduled visit to a British port.
I assure you that I have not exaggerated or distorted the facts about slavery in that book.
Slavery was in the past: why drag it up?
I have written before about statues and other symbols that some people find offensive. It is obvious that slavery is an issue that does bother a lot of people today. We can’t sweep it under the carpet. I want us all to hear the truth, even the bits we find uncomfortable. Let’s examine the facts and listen to various opinions.
What about the present?
I do not want us to devote too much time to blaming people now long dead, or to arguing about apologies. If you have the energy and inclination to get involved in any campaigns, I suggest trying to eradicate modern slavery: people trafficking, parts of the sex industry and debt-slavery (mainly in the Indian subcontinent).
You could also work on defeating racism today. If educating people about the past helps, then let’s do it. But it’s the present that needs liberating.