A presenter of a new documentary about slavery has rejected the idea of selling art and artefacts with links to the trade, to compensate descendants.
“I don’t think the sensible way to achieve reparation is to sell off national heritage,” Afua Hirsch said.
“I want people to see it and engage with it. The more accessible it can be, the more it can be used to educate.”
The writer and broadcaster is fronting Enslaved with actor Samuel L Jackson. The series starts on BBC Two on Sunday.
Hirsch, who writes a column for the Guardian and penned the book Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging, told The Radio Times: “I’m not about destroying history at all. I want people to see it and engage with it.
“But I do feel quite critical that until now these things have been held in a way that neither educates nor enlightens us about our colonial history.”
She was responding to a question about the National Trust, which has identified 93 properties with connections to colonialism and historic slavery. Hirsch said she applauded the organisation, but that their collections should be used to tell a more complete version of history.
She added on Twitter that the interview “left out the part where I said the amount owed in reparations MONUMENTALLY exceeds the amount that could be raised by selling off National Trust collections”.
Enslaved used new diving technology to locate and examine sunken slave ships in the UK, the Caribbean and Florida, retrieving artefacts such as a large ivory tusk 45 miles off the coast of Devon. The four-part CBC/Epix series has already been broadcast in the US.
She added that history taught in British schools should acknowledge the country’s role in the slave trade rather than just celebrate its abolition.