Glimmers of Good News p1

In relation to social justice, some recent shifts in the media, in the UK …

Cotton Capital

A special series by the Guardian newspaper on how slavery changed the Guardian, Britain and the world.

It focuses on Manchester, the city where the Guardian was established, because of its connection to transatlantic slavery through the cotton trade.

Manchester is also where both my parents are from, and many people in my grandparents generation worked in the cotton mills and associated industries there. Until seeing this series though, it had never occurred to me that there was any connection between Manchester cotton and slavery in the United States!

In the Buddha’s teachings, ignorance is one of the three poisons, together with greed and aversion, that cause and perpetuate suffering. Ignorance is not merely a lack of knowledge, but a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of reality and the interdependent nature of all things. So …

“If we want to overcome racism, we need to start by acknowledging the ways in which we are complicit in it, whether through our own actions or through the systems and institutions that perpetuate it.”

Rev. angel Kyodo williams “Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation”

Lest We Remember: How Britain Buried Its History Of Slavery
by Gary Younge
Slavery is a central and indisputable fact of the nation’s past. But our failure to remember what really happened is more than mere forgetfulness

Illustration by Diana Ejaita

When heroic myths about slavery or empire have become thoroughly embedded into a culture, they do not simply evaporate on impact with reality. “Awareness” cannot be the cure for a disease that is not about forgetting, which is why the publication of hundreds of new books about British colonialism every year cannot, in itself, repair our collective memory.

“You already know enough. So do I,” writes Sven Lindqvist on the first page of Exterminate All the Brutes, his exploration of the consequences of European imperialism. “It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and draw conclusions.

Restorative justice

As a result of their research … the owner of the Guardian has issued an apology for the role the newspaper’s founders had in transatlantic slavery and announced a decade-long programme of restorative justice. It expected to invest more than £10m, with millions dedicated specifically to descendant communities linked to the Guardian’s 19th-century founders.

… and in Aotearoa / New Zealand

Back in 2020, news company Stuff researched their own reporting in relation to Māori and discovered a long legacy of biased reporting, for which they apologised publicly.

Illustration by Johnson Witehira

Stuff’s apology to Māori – Our Truth, Tā Mātou Pono

The project began by researching the company’s archives to ask:
Had we marginalised Māori, stereotyped Māori, been responsible for shaping social stigma against Māori? Importantly, had we failed our own editorial checklist of fairness, accuracy and balance with one important segment of our audience, of New Zealand?

And perhaps unsurprisingly, the research revealed that:
Our coverage of Māori issues over the past 160 years ranged from racist to blinkered. Seldom was it fair or balanced in terms of representing Māori.

Apologies are hollow without a commitment to change, to do better in the future. We’ve begun that journey, with much distance to travel.

See here for more information on Stuff’s specific commitments to change

Carmen Parahi on Stuff’s public apology to Māori: ‘One of the most stressful times in my life’

Carmen Parahi (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Hine, Rongowhakaata), the journalist and editor who led the process, reflects on the progress and the personal cost of the project.

It’s now been more than 19 months since the public apology, and while Stuff has made progress on this kaupapa, head of news Mark Stevens concedes mistakes have continued to be made and “we’ve still got work to do”.

Parahi says she’s had to adopt a more realistic timeframe for the deep institutional changes she’s envisaged to come to fruition.

“What I didn’t realise – and what I should have, just from knowing the stories of our tūpuna and what they’ve been through to take their fights forward – was that it’s not going to take two years to change the whole world.
I actually thought it would. I thought that after the apology, when we got our work programme sorted out, that we would resolve all of the issues of the past and that would be the end of it.
No, it’s going to take a generation or two. I’m just here to start it and help it along its way. But it will be for others to benefit from it, and it will be them that will take it to the next level.
But she’s confident things are moving in the right direction.

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