8th July 2014 19:50

Painting inspired Belle

If you haven’t yet, please do see Belle, the British drama directed by Amma Asante, written by Misan Sagay, and produced by Damian Jones.

This is the wonderful, true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay and an African woman, probably a slave, from a Spanish vessel in the Caribbean.  On her mother’s death Sir John places Dido in the home of her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield who happens to be the Lord Chief Justice.  Their relationship plays a key role in the abolition of slavery.

The film is inspired by the painting of Dido with her cousin and companion Lady Elizabeth Murray at Kenwood House. There are painful scenes of the two women shopping for potential husbands with both men and women appraising each other according to social rank, financial status and skin colour. That is until Dido meets an idealistic young vicar’s son with the conviction and focus to change society.

Apart from the uplift of enjoying a wonderful story I’m left convinced that if we can upgrade and abolish slavery there is absolutely no reason we cannot do the same in current day. Upgrade and abolish energy that is polluting, upgrade and abolish banking that is corrupt, upgrade and abolish business that is diseased by corporate greed and exploitation.

And I’m reminded of the important role that women have in leading the way. If Dido Belle, a young mixed race woman can be brave enough to speak out and take actions for a better world at a time when this was unheard of what are we waiting for?

And I’m reminded that the way of the upgrade is Love.  The film suggests it was Lord Mansfield’s love for Belle that lies at the heart of his decision and ruling on a case that led to the abolishment of slavery. Love gives us the insight and courage to take the brave action beyond the patterns we are accustomed to that is so needed in times of upgrade.

For as Sir John Lindsay says in the movie: “What is right can never be impossible.” No more excuses, only courage.

Thank you Dido Belle Lindsay.

 

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