Post by Kate B Post by Nick Odell Post by Mike Post by Kate B Post by SODAM
My father (peace be upon him) told me that he gave some pennies to the
Lenten Alms for “the black babies” when he was small. He was distressed
when Easter came and he wasn’t given a black baby of his own.
That would have been about a hundred years ago, I realise with
We did this in my Catholic primary school, rather less than a hundred
years ago. There was a very large picture of Our Lady at the top of some
steps, and each of us had a little black paper baby. Every threepence we
gave entitled us to pin our baby to the next step up. If every baby
wasn't on the top step by the end of the Lent term the atmosphere became
very un-holiday-like and words were had with the collecting parents.
I'm not sure whether any of us actually expected to get a baby at the
end of this exercise, though. The nuns were quite strict and there were
very few rewards for anything much.
I have always felt this form of moral blackmail is particularly nasty - and
certainly well below any organisation working in the name of a religion or
I don't wish to be ungallant towards Kate but I believe we are talking
about a time fifty or more years ago and people's ideas then about what
was good and what was right were very different. This was only a little
after the time that the British government thought it was a good idea to
bundle up children who had lost their parents - and some children who
had not - ship them out to Australia and give them away to anybody who
would take them. I'm not aware that the general public thought that a
bad idea at the time.
We've had to come this far forward to see now that these and so many
other practices and attitudes were wrong and I dare say that fifty years
into the future people will look back at things we now consider normal
and say how barbaric we all were back then.
Thank you, Nick. It was indeed umpty-cough years ago, perhaps only a
decade or so after Windrush. Even in Brixton there were still very few
black people from anywhere.
I might add that being made to think of the poor starving black babies
in Africa is not a bad thing in itself. And as for the competition
involved in getting to the top of the steps, this is still rife - a
school is raising money for a charity I work with, donating via
individual fundraising pages on a website (BT MyDonate, much better than
Justgiving, doesn't take any cut). We had a panicked call from one
beleaguered mother who had given money direct to us rather than via the
page, so her daughter was well below her peers. In the end we gave her
her money back so she could restore parity via the fundraising page.
So the moral blackmail is all still flourishing, only the nuns have
A ladder of gifts given by kids is very bad. So what do the poor