Windrush Day 2019 - Your Guide
Posted on 21st June 2019 at 12:37
Saturday 22nd June will mark the 2nd annual Windrush Day. A day that has been marked to celebrate the influence and contribution of the Windrush generation.
Who Are They?
The Windrush generation is a generation of people that migrated to the UK from the Caribbean between 1948-1971. They are called “The Windrush Generation” as the first arrivals docked in Tilbury in Essex on 22nd June, sailing upon the HMT Empire Windrush, from Jamaica.
500 men, women and children decided to leave their old lives behind and set sail for pastures new across the Atlantic.
Prior to the swinging ’60s, many of the countries in the Caribbean were under British rule and contributed greatly, with their lives, during World War II. A lot of the passengers on the ship were ex-serviceman who fought in the war and had been invited to the UK to take advantage of the vast amount of jobs that were available. I think it is fair to say that the country needed to be rebuilt and we needed some help.
Not Plain Sailing
You’ll have to excuse the pun, but it certainly was not plain sailing for the people who made the journey. History will tell you that whenever a different ethnic group arrives in a country, prejudice is going to be rife. Racism and discrimination meant that the new arrivals couldn’t acquire jobs, they could find jobs, but a lot of employees were against the idea of employing black workers.
Prejudices are pre-judgements. Pre-judgements are instilled in us from what we are told, taught and shown. It’s easy to see where these prejudices came from when you look at the 1935 film “Sanders of the River” which was a propaganda film that showed the African and Caribbean people as “savages” that needed the British Empire to show them how to be civilised. Again, a quick leaf through a history book will tell you that Mansa Musa I, of the Malian Empire, was the richest person ever in history, and Mali was the richest country in the world at one point. Over in the Caribbean, the Saladoid people in Trinidad introduced agriculture and ceramic pottery in 200 BC. So, it’s clear that humans naturally developed civilisations, medicines and cultures all on their own – without interference (then Columbus turned up!).
The reason for the brainwashing was down to a few factors. Mainly to exhibit a dominant race versus a race that needs our wisdom and education. This made the people feel proud of their Empire and of course feel a certain level of supremacy over the black race. These ideals stuck with the mainland Brits and resulted in racism. It was also a tactic to tighten the hold on colonial countries when cries of independence started to be heard. We must remember that a lot of the mainland white-British people had never met an African or Caribbean person, and the only opinions they had were formed from negative imagery.
I am thankful to say that these ideals have slowly but surely been ironed out of the white-British psyche. With time, everyone will realise and accept that everyone is born equal.
The Windrush Generation has been in the news for the last year or two. But Why?
Well, in 1971, the government passed a bill which meant that the 500,000 citizens that arrived between 1948 and 1971 were given indefinite leave to remain. However, the Home Office wasn’t very organised and didn’t record the details of every person and a lot of them didn’t receive any official documents, a UK passport, for example.
2012 came along with a change to immigration laws. This meant that people needed official documents to prove they were eligible for healthcare, benefits and generally just to be allowed to stay in the country. As previously mentioned, no paperwork was ever devised.
This administrative error led to people being detained in detention centres and deported back to the Caribbean.
Labour MP, David Lammy, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister (at the time), Theresa May, to demand amnesty for the Windrush children. 140 MPs signed the bill and many leaders of Caribbean countries voiced their displeasure at the decision.
More and more stories started to come out about the mistreatment of the Windrush people and the pace gathered. This led to Theresa May issuing an apology and vowing to right the wrongs. The people that arrived prior to 1971 will be given the relevant documentation and those that have been forced to move back across the sea will be given help to return.
Windrush Day 2019
The government has made £500,000 available per year to community groups and local authorities that wish to celebrate and educate the masses about the Windrush generation and their descendants.
50 projects have received funding this year, and here is how you can get involved:
Share this post: