Paulette Wilson – The Windrush Scandal

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Paulette Wilson arrived in Britain 1968 the year I was born 52 years ago as a child.  She was educated here, worked here had children here yet her life was turned upside down as a result of the ‘hostile environment’ inflicted on the innocent, hard working people of Britain’s ex colonies.  The injustices endured by Paulette and many others is painful because throughout her parents’ education in Jamaica they were taught they were British citizens; they learnt the whitewashed history of white saviours.  When they were asked to fight wars for the Mother country they signed up in their numbers to fight for King and Country.  So when they were invited to help rebuild the mother country many did not hesitate and they answered the call again.

Her grandparents arrived to find the streets weren’t paved with gold and there was no open armed welcome but cold hostility ‘no Irish, no blacks, no dogs’.  Undeterred they endured the hardship, the inequality and the injustice after all the ends justifies the means.

Interestingly, Paulette arrived in Wolverhampton the year of the Enoch Powell ‘rivers of blood’ – the beginning of going back on all the promises made to the Windrush generation.

Paulette had no idea she was ‘low hanging fruit’ easy to find in the system afterall she paid her taxes for 37 years, yet invisible due to the shredding of landing cards under the Labour government. One minute you’re a legal citizen the next you’re denied housing, employment and health care it reminded me of the film ‘Enemy of the state’ with Will Smith.

Imagine being threatened with deportation to a country you left 52 years ago as a child without money, clothes or any means to support yourself. Imagine having to prove you have a right to remain in this country in the face of barrier after barrier. Imagine, when the government is finally caught out and promises to pay compensation but you die without receiving a penny.

Paulette found herself in this horrific storm but she was selfless in her campaign for justice for the Windrush victims of a ruthless and cruel policy meted out on people who weren’t criminals, but made a massive contribution to the rebuilding of this country.

How many more will die before the reluctant government does the decent thing and fully compensates fighters like Paulette Wilson?

Pandemic Summer Holidays

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This year gets stranger and stranger.  I’m in the third week of the summer holidays and I have no plans to fo anywhere or so anything.  Some people jumped on a plane to Spain no less only to find they must be quarantined for 14 days on return.  Perhaps plunging themselves into further financial hardship.  The speed and volume of the government announcements only lead to frustration and confusion as we can’t plan from one week to the next.

I say all this to say you have to find beauty in your surroundings local parks, woods your own garden. I’ve been taking photographs in our local woods once you leave the main road you’re transported to another more simpler world. I can forget I live in a busy overcrowded city.

Les Blancs Lorraine Hansberry

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The National Theatre has not had an audience of theatre goers for 4 months so they have live streamed performances of some great plays.  I am new to Hansberry’s play ‘Les Blancs’ even though I’m very familiar with ‘A Raisin in the  Sun’ as I’ve taught it for a few years now.

The play opens on a dark, smoky stage creating an eerie and solemn mood.  The audience is pre warned of racially motivated violence so I prepared myself for some pretty difficult messages to sift through.

I liked the American journalist device an outsider looking in hoping he has the answers to ‘300 years of struggle’.  The role of ‘Christianity and the mission is centre stage.  A crude hospital has been set and children are offered a basic education.  Interestingly, grown black men are referred to as children throughout.  In the white settlers minds they never reach a state of maturity and independence.

By Act 2 the didactic style lessons until you become fully immersed in this story that reveals to the audience and the protagonist you must pick a side. Tshembe personifies Africa ‘the rape of a continent’; ‘still yesterday for Africa’ and ‘great gashes’. The three brothers battle for the future of Africa: Eric the revolutionary, Abioseh christianity and Tshembe pacificism.

Reverend Neilsen is an important but absent character throughout the play well meaning but a weapon of oppression in the colonists arsenal. He uses the Bible to keep them in their place any sense of fairness, equality, independence is seen as a disturbance to the ‘natural order’ in his mind. The play is extremely didactic in Act 1 but I believe its absolutely necessary to fully engage with Tshembe. The characature of Colonel Rice helps to present an alternative point of view of the colonisers not written in the history books the use of the words ‘Kaffir’, ‘savages’ and general dehumanisation of black Africans is rather hard to digest.

The final scenes show the descent into bloody overthrow rather than ‘civilised’ talk and compromise. Madam Neilsen presents a dilemma for the audience she is frail physically and metaphorically blind. She has a degree of empathy for Africans but she realizes her privileged viewpoint is part of the problem. She inspires loyalty in Tshembe as she has effectively taught him to love rather than hate but eventually she inspires him to take up the fight for independence.

I thoroughly enjoyed the play as it was good to see colonialism from the point of view of the black African. It fits in so timely with the Black Lives Matter movement and the lynching of George Floyd in the USA. Hansberry emphasizes seeing and listening to each other to prevent blood shed but she also shows the lack of value placed on thousands of black African life in comparison to one white life.

‘A Raisin in the Sun’ starts to explore African independence through Beneatha and Asagai, ‘Les Blancs’ reveals Hansberry’s education and research into these unseen, unheard voices.

Look at this… 👀

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Look at this… 👀 https://pin.it/5OFwxc6

Celebrating Windrush Day

My dad travelled from Jamaica to England in 1960. He came equipped with some skills in carpentry and gardening.

He worked in low skilled jobs factory work, salt mine, pottery and tyres. He found God early in his journey and started a church in Wellington. He taught, evangelised and preached.

He planned to stay 5 years and then return to the island but in the 4th year he met and married my mum.

The children came fast and furious 4 children in 5 years. 6 children, 12 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren later. Together they built a beautiful family and community.

They sacrificed their dual nationality in the 80s to become British citizens in fear of the carnage that has been revealed from the ‘hostile environment’.

Solidarity to those who have suffered and hope that they will be properly compensated for the brutal, callous, ruthless treatment from the home office.