“The government shredded landing cards and other documents that would have outright proven these people’s right to stay. These folks, mostly the children of the Windrush generation, are and always have been British citizens, heck, the passport my father came over with even says British Passport on the cover!”
From Emma Kathryn
When I watch video footage of HMS Windrush docking at the small Tilbury port on the 22nd of June 1948, I get goosebumps. I can’t help but imagine what it must have been like for all of those people aboard, their dreams and hopes of starting a new life. Many of those on board would have left children at home to be sent for when they had their houses and were working. They came to help rebuild Britain after the war, at the invitation of the government.
They were already British citizens.
My grandparents weren’t aboard the Windrush. They came later, but not much. They came in 1961 and were some of the first Caribbean settlers in Nottinghamshire, the county where I live now.
Life here wasn’t easy for them at first. When I think back to the hardship and blatant racism they went through, it makes my blood boil, and I half wish I’d been there to fuck some people right up, but hey, they made it work. My grandmother, my nana, was fierce and strong, like my aunts are now, and carried herself with pride and dignity. My grandfather worked hard for his children, and some of my best childhood memories involve my cousins and summer days in their massive garden (the land where there house was used to be an orchard, with pear and apple trees, and outhouses to explore and hide in).
Anyway, life went on, as it does, and over the years the Caribbean community has become a part of British life. When people talk about all of the ‘foreigners’ coming and taking our jobs, I often call them out, and tell them that my grandparents were the ‘foreigners’ once. They say but that was a long time ago, or, yeah but that was different. It wasn’t, at least not for me, but the point I’m trying to make here is that the Jamaicans and others who came then are a part of our culture now.
Or you would have thought so, until now that is.
If you live in the UK then you will no doubt have heard about the latest government scandal (or one of them anyway, Governments are always getting caught out doing something shady), the one where they’ve tried to deport people who came to this country legally. Not only that, they’ve used it as a cash cow, increasing the cost of citizenship and naturalisation by way over inflation. If you are unfamiliar with this story, then you can read about it here.
This one though, really hit home for my family. It happened to my dad two years ago, before anyone even had a whiff of this scandal. Who’d have thought then, two years ago, that my father’s case would have been the tip of the iceberg. We certainly didn’t.
Naive, I know.
He’d gone to work as normal and was told that the company, as all companies have to, had to do checks on their staff, that they had just been chosen randomly, and that he would need to bring in his birth certificate and passport to prove that he had the right to work here.
Even then we didn’t think anything of it, and set about getting him a new passport. It was only when he received a response from the passport office saying that he had to prove where his grandfathers grandfather was born, in order to support his claim of citizenship, that the first tendrils of worry wrapped themselves around us. The letter went on to say that he would be deported, but not to Jamaica where he’s originally from, but to Barbados, a country my dad has no links to or with at all.
My 61 year old (at the time) father thought he would be deported to a country he’s never been to. And even if it had stated Jamaica, the fact is my father came here when he was seven years old, grew up here, has his family here, his children and grandchildren. His parents are buried here. This is home.
The following months, yes months, not too far off a year in fact, were terrible, and that’s just from my perspective, so god knows how my father felt; the threat of deportation hanging over him, the thought of being sent to a country he has no links with, unable to work, all made so much worse by the callous lack of help and care from the government. Hell even its own staff couldn’t tell their heads from their arses.
I would ring the number on the letter and ask them what my father was meant to do, I mean they kept saying he needed photo ID for this and that, but of course the problem was that he had no photo ID, since coming over he’s never passed a driving test or been anywhere else. That department would pass me to another and so on and so forth until I was passed back to the first damn department. An absolute shambles.
In the end, my father went to see his local MP, who did actually get things done, but my father still had to pay, still had to go through the citizenship test (a crock of shit if ever there was one!), and go to the ceremony.
I can’t tell you how relieved the whole family were to get this sorted out, and truth be told, we couldn’t wait to put the whole mess behind us and forget about it.
That is until about a week or two ago, when the scale of the governments shameful treacherousness came to light. I’m not surprised, not really, especially when you consider the governments hostile policy (self-styled too, I might add) when it comes to immigrants.
The government shredded landing cards and other documents that would have outright proven these people’s right to stay. These folks, mostly the children of the Windrush generation, are and always have been British citizens, heck, the passport my father came over with even says British Passport on the cover! The government can’t even tell us how many people have been deported. They’ve taken innocent citizens and had them locked up in immigration detention centres – prisons is what those places really are. It’s almost beyond belief. When people have travelled back to the Caribbean for holidays or to see relatives, they’ve not been allowed back home.
It’s almost like it was all planned, don’t you think?
Everyone should see this as a wake up call.
It doesn’t matter if you are British, or not, or if your ancestors were British. It doesn’t even matter what country you live in, or what government is in power. Governments are not to be trusted.
You might be thinking, well this could never happen to me, and you may well be right, that your citizenship is never questioned, but look at the bigger picture. Governments treat us, the people, with utter disregard. They really do. They couldn’t give a shit about us, so long as we are all good little people and do as we are told. So long as we follow the rules and never question what we are told.
They do not care about people. They care about themselves. Look with open, truly open eyes at the world in which we live, and at how governments all over it treat people. We invade other countries, being told that it’s humanitarian, that we are helping people, but that isn’t true. Not at all. If it was, then why do we sell arms to Saudi Arabia, who then use those weapons against the people of Yemen? Why do we invade other countries on the pretense that we are helping the people by removing dictators and still sell arms to other dictators? We argue about the use of chemical weapons, all the while turning a blind eye when our allies use them. I could go on and on.
Well to answer those questions, you just have to dig a little deeper, and it is only a little too. They can’t even be bothered to hide their shame. Recently a number of countries, America, France and Britain, decided to take military action in Syria. Guess who’s husband’s company is the largest shareholder of BAE? That’s right ladies and gents, Theresa May’s, that’s who.
Governments put money and property before people, any people, there can be no denying it, and for me, this whole Windrush scandal solidifies that.
The bottom line is governments cannot be trusted.
My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!
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