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Posts by Richard

The not so beautiful game

29 October 2012 by Richard

Fans watch a football match

Racism still exists in football despite initiatives like Kick it out.


Surely I’m not the only one to have a feeling of déjà vu? In January of this year I wrote a blog about allegations of racist abuse in football which had overshadowed various anti-racism campaigns and initiatives such as Kick It Out. Well here we are again, same old, same old.  Is it too much to ask that those people in the higher echelons of English and European football finally take firm and decisive action around blatant racism on the terraces and on the pitch? 
Read more…

Olympian achievements

16 August 2012 by Richard

photo of museum display

Jesse Owens on the International Slavery Museum’s Fight for Freedom and Equality Wall ©Lee Garland


I could not miss the opportunity of an Olympic themed blog.  I enjoyed these past few weeks (I now know about ippon and not to pop out of the room before the 50m freestyle) and am looking forward to the Paralympics. That being said, I am not sure whether the Olympics warranted the lead news item most evenings.   The world does not put everything on hold for such events.

On several occasions the discussion focused on the achievements of Black athletes, in particular sprinters form the Caribbean and the US. A recent programme which featured Olympian Michael Johnson called Survival of the Fastest looked at whether African American and Caribbean athletes are successful as a result of a legacy of transatlantic slavery. Johnson met sport and science experts and leading historians to examine the link between transatlantic slavery, genetics and plantation ‘breeding programmes’. Did the physical stature of many enslaved Africans forced to carry out backbreaking and deadly physical labour have a role to play in altering the genomes of their descendants? Read more…

Museums modernus

24 July 2012 by Richard

At the end of May I left these shores to give a public lecture in Copenhagen as part of the MeLa European Museums in an age of migrations project. MeLa is a four year long research project which aims to define new approaches for museums in relation to the conditions posed by the migrations of people, cultures, ideas, information and knowledge in the global world. Furthermore, the project will evaluate how these changes can interfere with such organizational issues as communication strategies, physical structures and exhibition places. I was invited by the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) who organized this particular event and who presented some very interesting and innovative design solutions focusing on visitor studies. Read more…

Consciousness and the Rainbow Atlantic

24 May 2012 by Richard

photograph of a peaceful ocean

© FreeImages.co.uk


Like many of you I am pleased that the people of Liverpool in the recent Mayoral elections gave a clear message to those of the far-right persuasion that their brand of politics was not wanted. Less than 2% of the 100,000 plus people who went to the polling stations voted for such candidates.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of work to do at many levels, to counter the rise of extreme nationalistic and far-right ideologies across Europe. Their vague and utopian ideas of national identity, including Britishness (which rarely includes BME individuals whether or not they were born in Britain…like me) has no factual basis. Read more…

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

20 March 2012 by Richard

family at a museum craft session

Craft session in the Anthony Walker Education Centre at the International Slavery Musuem. Copyright Pete Carr


I have been a trustee of the Anthony Walker Foundation for several years, an organisation established by Anthony’s family following his racially-motivated murder in July 2005.
The mission of the Foundation is to promote equality and diversity through education, sport and arts events and to support law enforcement agencies and local communities to reduce hate crime and build safe cohesive communities.

To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the AWF released the following statement:
Read more…

One game, one clear message needed

6 January 2012 by Richard

people watching football match at Leeds

Crowds prepare to watch the action at Elland Road, Leeds

In 2008 I wrote a blog about my experiences as a Leeds United fan and how Elland Road in the early 80s was a haven of racist abuse and bigotry, usually aimed at opposing Black and Asian players and fans.  I explained how I felt uncomfortable when hundreds of people chanted something racist but at the same time I refused to leave or walk away.  I had as much right as anyone to be there, I was a Black Yorkshireman and proud of it.
Read more…

The power of images

2 August 2011 by Richard

woman looking at framed photographs

Visitor at the Living Apart exhibition


Well there have been plenty of things happening here at the museum since my last blog post. We have launched three very successful and eclectic exhibitions: Living Apart: photographs of apartheid by Ian Berry; ’42’ Women of Sierra Leone, a series of photographs of Sierra Leonean women, highlighting the alarming fact that life expectancy for them is only 42 and Toxteth 1981, a community exhibition developed in collaboration with the Merseyside Black History Month Group to mark the 30th anniversary in July 2011 of the 1981 riots in Toxteth, Liverpool. The latter involved members of the Liverpool Black community who lived in Toxteth during the disturbances loaning photographic material for the exhibition. The images gave them a voice which I believe is very important if museums are to be truly seen as a resource by the local community in particular. Read more…

Foundations for the future

25 January 2011 by Richard

mechanical digger digging foundations

A Happy New Year to everyone and as someone with Chinese ancestry it is fitting to wish you all a fruitful Year of the Rabbit. Liverpool has a long established and rich Chinese community, one that adds to the diverse fabric of the city. There has been a Chinese community since the mid-nineteenth century which originally settled around the docks but in more recent times settled in and around Berry and Duke Street. Interestingly Liverpool’s Chinatown has the largest Chinese arch in Europe and indeed outside of China. The New Year celebrations in Liverpool are fantastic and well worth attending.

The museum sector has a number of challenges in 2011 but I believe that the International Slavery Museum will continue to have a strong offer and build on the success of 2010. A year which saw us pass the 1 millionth visitor mark; launch the new International Slavery Museum book Transatlantic Slavery: An introduction; host a series of successful exhibitions; develop our contemporary slavery collection and open our new Campaign Zone.

For many years there has been the debate within the sector as to whether museums should be places of neutrality, islands of objectivity in an often subjective world. I wrote about this in a recent article. Those of us involved in the International Slavery Museum disagree and feel that museums are by their very nature active agents of social change and should actively seek to do so. Janet Marstine in ‘New Museum Theory and Practice’ (2006) has echoed similar sentiments;
Read more…

Breaking boundaries

8 March 2010 by Richard

old photo of a man in cricket whites by the sign for an RAF base

Conrad Benjamin, RAF Steamer Point


I am pleased to report that the February visitor figures for the International Slavery Museum were extremely good and we are now very close to receiving our millionth visitor. A fantastic achievement considering we have only been open since 2007. 

We are always looking to enhance the visitor experience and this can often mean covering sensitive and challenging issues. An example is Missing (2007) by the artist Rachel Wilberforce, a series of photographs of urban and suburban Britain which depict sex-trafficking and prostitution through the interiors and exteriors of brothels and so-called massage parlours. This newly acquired part of our contemporary slavery collection is now on display. Rachel will be giving a public lecture about her work on Wednesday 10 March 6-8pm at the Merseyside Maritime Museum as part of International Women’s Week. Check the International Women’s Day events page for further details. Read more…

News from the Grand Rue

10 February 2010 by Richard

Man holding a bracelet

International Slavery Museum collections development officer Stephen Carl-Lokko with ankle bracelet from Niger


I am sure most people like myself and the staff at International Slavery Museum have been keeping up-to-date with the unfolding humanitarian tragedy in Haiti, a result of the catastrophic earthquake on 12 January. Out of this disaster we received some welcome good news recently that one of the Haitian artists involved with the Freedom! sculpture on display in the museum, Guyodo (Frantz Jacques), along with his family, are fine, as well as several colleagues from the Grand Rue artists collective, but sadly his home was destroyed. We are currently looking to develop a long-term sustainable partnership with Haiti, possibly with an artists collective. Due to the imagination and creativity of Haitian artists this is a real possibility. Interestingly the Ghetto Biennale was held in Grand Rue in December which is a fascinating project and a good starting point for any future collaboration. Read more…

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