So, it’s black history month again and amidst all the Brexit tensions I thought it would be best to write what black history month means to me and what, in the recent months, has interested me about this country’s attitudes towards race.
With any dedicated or anointed day or month like black history month you always get the few people that don’t understand why it’s necessary; but living in a world where you can get shot on sight just for being black and where people of colour are still stereotyped, disrespected and discriminated against I think it’s necessary, even more recently with the Windrush scandal.
The scandal surrounds the Windrush generations of 1948-1971 that are reportedly being refused passports and legal human rights, detained and even threatened with deportation after living as British citizens.
The Windrush generation was filled with people from the Caribbean islands that were excited to be working and living in the ‘Motherland’, some there to get money to send back home and others there to starts a new life. Not forgetting that not all of these people were the poor, desperate black people that are presented so dominantly throughout black history. Some of these people were wealthy and had good businesses back home and genuinely thought of England as an extravagant country with the culture and the means to start a brand-new life.
What these people didn’t expect was the injustice and volatile attitudes of the civilians.
As written in many books such as Andrea Levy’s Small Island (2004), we know the Windrush generation came over with selfless and hardworking attitudes. They helped the country survive post-war taking up labour jobs etc. and even fought alongside the soldiers sent out to the frontline. These people settled down and made families despite their hardships. And in addition to all this, the prime minister still threatens them and their families with deportation to countries that they have only heard their grandparents talk about in memory, and have never visited them themselves
Among all this, there are still injustices with race in the workplace even today in some areas of the country. Sadiq Khan himself commissioned an analysis which found that black and minority ethnic public employees were paid up to “37% less” on average than their white counterparts. And regardless of the most powerful people in the country insisting that this country has no problems with racism and prejudice, some of the most powerful people in this country, and even the world, are still predominantly white.