Picture the scene, all as it really happened. On a cold January evening this year, coming out of the City Chambers on Edinburgh High Street I was startled to hear a very loud voice and vivid lights. Turning round, I saw that they had just started the poem with hologram projected onto the front wall of the Chambers. See it here https://youtu.be/ObS3vzQHg40 I’m sure you’ll find it very powerful.
A chap joined me and we realised we had been at university together 25 years ago – we weren’t particularly friendly, but we recognised each other and we had a good conversation. He pointed to his curly hair, which I had never really noticed. He said a great-grandmother of his was a black slave.
So, we have to hand it to Edinburgh Council for putting this on several times a day during most of January, long before Black Lives Matter became fashionable. The wall on which it is projected was built, as I put it in my book, “subsidised by the proceeds of Empire: the theft of assets around the world, the trade in sugar, tobacco and slaves…” I was pleased with that sentence at the time of writing, and I’m proud of it now.
But we need to take note of Irvine Welsh’s (and a few other folks’!) point that it’s easy to mouth platitudes. Where’s the beef? We’ll need some re-structuring, and some of it might not be comfortable to the comfortably off. That includes me. And probably you.