Will New £100m Fund Help Repair The Damage Of Slavery?

After discovering it benefited financially from the transatlantic slave trade, the Church of England (CofE) recently announced it is setting up £100million fund to be donated to communities adversely affected by slavery. Keep The Faith asked Christians their views on this development and how the funds should be spent.

I think the Church of England has made a very bold move to right the wrongs of the slave trade with this new fund. Whilst most denominations seeking to address this issue are still exploring what reparations justice might look like, they have given us a precedence and something to think about. I think if part of the compensation can be used to fund the training and mentoring of racial justice advocates across the parishes and dioceses of the Church of England, that would enable the Church to continue to address issues around racial injustice.
Rev Dr Israel Olofinjana — Director, One People Commission, Evangelical Alliance

The CofE’s actions follow initiatives by the Baptist Union, the Quakers and the United Reformed Church, banks and universities. It’s an example to others of the need to address historic wrongs when it is clear that present society both benefits and suffers from what previous generations have done.

Reparations for slavery should not be paid to individual descendants of enslaved African peoples, but directed towards economic, educational and infrastructural development in Britain and in the former colonies. Nothing should be done to impair the agency and self-determination of Black communities who are not resting on their laurels, waiting for handouts. It must always be up to Black communities to determine how any funds are spent, and that their use fits within their ongoing self-determined construction of the future they envisage for themselves.
Bishop Joe Aldred — Retired Christian ecumenist, writer, speaker and broadcaster

The Church of England’s move to set up a £100m fund to address the past wrongs of the slave trade evokes mixed feelings for me. On the one hand, restitution is a key part of the Christian conversion experience. We see Zacchaeus in Luke 19:8, a man who had harmed many people by exploiting his power as a chief tax collector, being converted and declaring: “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” Yet, on the other hand, you must wonder why has it taken the Church of England 300 years to make this restitution? This money should fund education, especially the historical and damaging legacy slavery has had on people to this day. This money should also be used to address social and economic issues that affect Black people today, including medical, housing and social justice.
Pastor Clement Okusi — Eternity Church, Croydon

The CofE recently committed £100 million to reparations for the evil of slavery, and I believe this is a start on the journey towards repair. It’s important to unpack what reparation really means. When we consider the generations-long atrocities committed against those brutalised enslaved, and the lasting impacts of slavery today, is this amount even a drop in the ocean?

So how will the Church seek to repair the trauma caused, communities torn apart, tribes separated, power taken, languages lost, the dominance over others…? How will it join in the resistance of racism? There’s serious work to do, but this is a necessary start.

I believe the money should be given to community leaders and grassroots leaders — both in the UK diaspora and in the Caribbean — to freely decide what they would like to do with it.
Dr Lisa Adjei — Founder, The Sankofa Collective

This £100m fund is a good start in rectifying wrongs done to Black people, but there are problems. We have to ask why is the Church doing it now? I think this is an example of political expediency rather than moral courage. This fund gets off to a problematic start, if the descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade have not been engaged, as the narrative has already been created. In the broader context, although £100m appears to be a big sum, it doesn’t even cover the pain and suffering of enslaved people. Reparations isn’t just about money; slavery was not just economic. It was spiritual; it was the destruction of world views, lifestyles. Can the money to do the job? No, because it has to be married to and placed alongside other kinds of repair. If a nation or family is the benefactor of unjust actions or unjust gain, they have a responsibility in the present to atone for that. The notion of historical injustice requiring recompense is a deeply biblical idea.
Professor Dr Robert Beckford

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