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?