The government are planning to create a commemorative coin for the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Windrush.
According to minutes from a government meeting, the coin is to be designed by a Caribbean artist and issued in 2023 as part of multiple events planned for the anniversary.
This is obviously a performative effort on the government’s part to pretend that they care about those who came on the Windrush.
The HMT Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury on 22 June 1948, bringing workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean islands to help fill post-war labour shortages in the UK.
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Those who came have worked in the NHS, on public transport and in manufacturing. They were joining their imperial family in Britain. Instead, they have been discriminated against and eventually deported.
In 2018, it was revealed the Home Office had been wrongly detaining individuals, denying legal rights and deporting those who had been here for decades, contributing to our society.
They have been refused their medical rights, lost their jobs, and their children have been threatened with deportation. Many have still not been allowed to return home to Britain.
The Windrush generation deserves far more. Former PM and Home Secretary Theresa May, at first, refused to apologise for the policy that was described as “hostile” towards the Windrush generation.
She only apologised when meeting with Caribbean leaders, stating she was “genuinely sorry for any anxiety that has been caused”.
As far as apologies go, she could’ve done better. And only apologising because you’re meeting with the leaders of the countries you deported people to makes you look insincere at best and calculated at worst.
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Her successor hasn’t done well either. Noted pro-immigration campaigner Priti Patel was accused of being insulting to victims of the Windrush scandal when she called those trying to prevent a deportation flight to Jamaica in 2020 “do-gooding celebrities”, as opposed to black Britons who were concerned about people being deported with little warning.
It is a fear that most children in the diaspora can feel. If your parent is a black immigrant, then you aren’t seen as British, and Priti Patel may have a plane ready to send you back to where your parents came from.
Moreover, the compensation scheme she implemented in an attempt to buy off- sorry to rectify- the situation, has been failing to actually work.
Currently, around 82% of victims of the scandal are still waiting on compensation, so for the British government to think that a commemorative coin is an acceptable exchange for decades of mistreatment is almost laughable.
There seems to be a form of amnesia that overwhelms the government when discussing Windrush. These people didn’t sneak into the country; they were citizens of the empire and by extension, British.
Britain called for them and they came. And the government has created a situation that was completely avoidable due to their xenophobic attitudes.
The government needs to actually start learning from its past mistakes. You can’t promote Britain as a multicultural, post-racial haven whilst sending black people out the back door.
You can’t commemorate Windrush whilst thousands are still recovering from the trauma and still waiting for justice that they won’t get.
Until the government actually starts valuing the contributions of the Windrush generation and acknowledges them as citizens, any commemoration to them is meaningless and insulting.