This Monday, Britain celebrated the Third ( of I hope many) ‘Windrush Day’. The years where many from the former British Caribbean colonies (now known as the commonwealth) immigrated to Britain in a call to regenerate Britain after the Second world war.
What is the Windrush generation?
The ‘Windrush‘ generation are those who arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1973. Many took up jobs in the nascent NHS and other sectors affected by Britain’s post-war labour shortage. The day aims to celebrate the Caribbean community and their contributions to British society.
In June 1948, the ship Empire Windrush landed at Tilbury Dock. They were the first large group of Caribbean migrants to arrive in the UK.
The Windrush Scandal
With the recent Windrush scandal plaguing the British government, it is important now more than ever to celebrate the black community and the hardships they faced coming to the country. Many have recounted stories of what they faced when they arrived, like in the video below.
Many migrants travelling from the Caribbean and then settling in Britain faced a lot of discrimination and racism. Many could not get jobs, they were not even granted a meeting with the manager and often found it hard to find anyone willing to grant them accommodation.
In 2018 news broke that some of the Windrush generation were told they were illegally living in Britain under the Conservative government. Although many of them had been living and working there for the majority of their lives, the law changes meant they were required to have certain official documents to remain in the country and the even gain access to healthcare. Some have been deported back to countries they barely know.
My grandparents made the journey and eventually settled in St. Albans, Hertfordshire. The raised six children and their nine grandchildren have all been born and grew up in Britain (only I now have moved), and yet how much really changed in this time?
Three generations since the Windrush and we are still plagued by systemic racism. That is evident in this newest wave of the Black lives matter movement and the injustices people in the United States are dealing with daily. Britain still like to believe them are exempt. But they are not. Do the research.
Some years ago, my Nan recounted a story of being spat at by a patient, whom she was trying to bathe in their hospital bed and having patients scream because they did not want her to touch them. I have never been spat at. I hope I never am. Those stories pain me, because ultimately I would not be where I am today without my grandparents pain, sacrifice and struggles. I strive to cultivate and create a life for myself off of the back of the prejudice and hardship they received.
Trust me, my Grandad really was a man whom would give anyone the shirt off his back. He was always so kind and loving towards everybody and I often find myself thinking some of that would be to people who did not deserve his love and kindness as they showed him none.
So, I just want to say Thank you Nan and Grandad. You came to Britain and struggled and fought to make a life for your future generations. For your legacy. We may still be struggling some 71 years later, but we no doubt have it a bit better than you ever did. You fought for me and now I fight for the next generation. Thank you.