England Taxed Black Brits for Their Freedom

The government gave reparations to slave owners, and modern citizens paid off the debt

Adrienne Gibbs
Momentum
Published in
2 min readAug 13, 2020

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Hundreds of people of African descent took part in the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March on August 1, 2017 in London, England. Photo: Barcroft Media/Getty Images

When Nadine Drummond pitched this story to me I was aghast: Black Brits were taxed — as recently as a few years ago — to pay off the costs of their ancestors’ freedom? What?!

On what planet is it okay to pay the slave owners to stop being slave owners, but to not pay enslaved Black people or their descendants for the work that they performed for said slave owners? Oh wait. This planet. The one we currently live on.

Drummond told me that ever since Britain got out of the slave trade that they kicked off, that reparations for those slave owners have been in effect. Millions of people were kidnapped and sold, so the slave owners had a lot of “product” to be compensated for by their government. They came out rich despite being on the wrong side of history. In fact, British citizens of all hues were being taxed to pay off this slave debt as recently as a few years ago.

That’s partly why the 2020 Emancipation Day celebrations across the pond were so important this year. The people marching for once didn’t have to pay for their great-great-great-grandmother’s freedom papers out of their hard-earned taxes.

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Adrienne Gibbs
Momentum

Director of Content @Medium. Award-winning journalist. Featured in a Beyoncé reel. Before now? EBONY, Netflix, Sun-Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe.