Tag Archives: Black Britain

April 6 – The Globe Theatre and a bit of British Black History

6 Apr


We went to Shakepeare’s Globe Theatre as our group activity today. I was more interested in the folks building the set for Romeo and Juliet set to start April 22nd, than I was in the information on the tour.  I spent a great deal of time people watching here today.  I saw a nonverbal example for low level of tolerance for the American millennial and the French teenager.  I think it has a lot to do with the “cloud of sound” (a term coined from my husband’s trip to Poland in the early 2000s) that these groups tend to be.  This is more an observation of behavior clash than anything else.  I don’t think the British are purposefully rude to these groups, nor do I believe these groups to be intentionally troublesome to the British.  It is clearly an expectation violation issue here.  The British culture expects a level of reserve in public spaces and these two youth groups expect the freedom to enjoy the company of their friends however that may happen.  Watching the nonverbal reactions of the groups to one another was quite amusing.  My research ethics does not allow me to have pics of these exchanges, but imagine the church mother spying the young girl in the short skirt walking into church and how they would react to one another during the church greetings.

I decided to go with a group to Greenwich after lunch in Borough Market (Which I highly recommend, there is food for EVERYBODY there.  I had the best vegan burger, vegan cupcake and drink all for less than 10 British Pounds. They are only open Thursday-Sunday though).  At first, I thought I was merely going to be accompanying my students who had research interests in Greenwich, politely exploring the Maritime Museum while they took copious notes and then going back to the hotel.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I walked up to the upper level and ran smack into this door:


Here folks, is where my Black British History moment for the day begins.  This was an exhibit that explains the Salve trade from the British perspective.  What I found most interesting, is much like in the US, the atrocities are  about glossed over and the British role in abolition seem to be at the forefront.  It was almost an inconvenient factoid to mention that the British were responsible for transporting 1.4 million of the slaves in the Ma’afa, because they were in fact “adamantly opposed to the horrors of slaving.”  The juxtaposition of these two quotes found in the museum just a few hundred feet from one another highlights my point:

Found inside the Atlantic Trade Exhibit

Found just before you enter the Atlantic Trade Exhibit

Overall, the exhibit was quite moving.  There were artifacts I had never seen before.  China plates with slaves caricatures, news articles demanding the abolition of slavery, audio accounts of Toussaint’s revolt, actual whips from the sugar plantations and “ID bracelets.”

I took so many pictures!  I won’t bore you with all of them here, but there was so much to read into the presentation, the rhetoric and the artifacts.  The combination of them all is a bit more matter-of-fact than how we “discuss” (we really don’t, but it’s the word of choice) slave history in the USA.  Even though it is still from the perspective of the slaver, there is more of a sense of “we did some bad ish to the Africans and this is what it looked like”  in the UK versus the “Blacks came here as immigrants too looking for opportunity” garbage that we  perpetuate in US History.

I also managed to find a few books in the gift shops. 

SPOILER ALERT for my family. These are some of y’all’s gifts.


Yes.  I am absolutely that woman that came all the way to London and bought only Black books about Britain (even the Shakespeare has a Black tragic protagonist).  But you already knew that about me. 🙂 

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