Windrush Day - 22 June 2020:
so where are we now?

22 June 2020

On 22 June, people will come together to celebrate what has now been called, “Windrush Day”. The day is being marked with celebrations around the country, which may well be a challenge given social distancing. However, as a quick reminder, this day is to mark the injustice and scandal that many people faced, predominantly from the Caribbean who, after being in the UK for more than 50 years were asked to leave the country.
 

Some 83 people were wrongly deported to Jamaica even though they hadn’t travelled to the country for many years and certainly didn’t see it as home. They arrived in the UK in the 1950s in response to a call to help Britain rebuild the country after the war. Many became nurses, bus drivers and conductors, all of which were roles that white British people didn’t want to do. In 2017, it transpired that many who had been living in the UK for years were asked to leave due to a mistake by the UK government. The immigration laws in the UK changed and you were required to prove you had the right to live and work here. If you wanted to rent a property, open a bank account you were required to produce a document, usually a passport which confirmed you were British. Many from the Windrush generation didn’t have British passports, some simply because they had never travelled and therefore, never felt the need to apply for a passport. When they did apply for a British passport, it transpired that the proof they required had been destroyed by the UK immigration services and therefore they had no means of proving when they had arrived in the UK. As they couldn’t prove their right to be here, many were put into detention centres and even deported.  It was a human tragedy and ironically even Theresa May at the time as prime minister admitted the government had made a mistake. The irony continued because she was home secretary at the time and had helped coin the phrase “hostile environment” and created the laws which lead to the mistake in the first place!

OK, let’s not dwell on the past wrongs and try to look to the future. So, they say, but it seems incredibly difficult to not hark on about the past when, to this day, the national newspapers, particularly the Guardian, continue to report that many people who were promised the compensation by the government have not received a penny. I read Amelia Gentleman’s article in the Guardian and shortly before the Sitting in Limbo programme was aired on BBC1, Anthony Bryrant was offered compensation. Is that how it’s always going to be? Remembering the wrongs that people of colour have gone through only for people in power to simply “say” they will compensate and then don’t actually do it? We, people of colour, can’t rely on such empty promises. We need to focus on us and what’s important to us. We can and should not rely on anyone else to save us.  

So, today we see the whole world literally rally, marching and coming out for people of colour. Talking about Black Lives Matter, which is encouraging, but is it really? Are we actually saying that our lives didn’t matter before? That’s how I feel when I read that the people who suffered so badly through the Windrush scandal still haven’t received the promised compensation! It leaves us feeling that we don’t matter, perhaps we never have and never will! You can go back years and never get what we deserve or are entitled to.

So, for me, it’s simple. Allies, yes please we need you as we have tried everything else and nothing has worked, so the only solution is getting non-BAME people on side, who will speak up for us. OK, let’s try that. I hope it works, as I have very little faith in anything else. What is it we want from the outcome of the Black Lives Matter movement? Can you imagine that all I want is to be treated fairly and judged on merit and not on the colour of my skin? I can't bear the thought of still writing about this in another few years' time. Allies: we need you, like you need us. This is the time to take action. Please do it.

Further information

You can read a full range of our diversity and inclusion blogs by clicking here.

 

About the author

Marcia Longdon is a Partner in the immigration team and a member of Kingsley Napley’s Diversity & Inclusion Group.

 

BAME bulletin board

BAME bulletin board

Shannett Thompson speaks at Urban Lawyers Careers Conf​erence November 2019​

Urban Lawyers works to makes the law more accessible as a career to marginalised groups and improve social mobility and diversity in the legal profession.​

View Urban Lawyers CC 2019 site

Film screening of The Hard Stop

Attended by KN employees and the Stop and Search Legal Project.

View SSLP's site

Intersecti​onality P​​er-spective - Celebrating Black History Month

Kingsley Napley's BAME and LGBTQ & Allies networks hosted a series of talks at London's Arboretum on 16 October 2019. The focus of the event was to open up the conversation about intersectionality, whilst shining a light on the progress of Black History Month in Britain. The speakers were Charles Irvine, Anthony Francis, Debo Nwauzu and Dr S Chelvan.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2020: BAME heroines who exemplify #EachforEqual

Drawing from the strength of shared experiences, women around the world have been uniting in common struggles such as sexual and domestic violence, pay inequality, reproductive autonomy and climate change. While great leaps forward have been made and women-led movements have been gaining unprecedented attention and support , minority ethnic women are often left behind as these struggles are compounded with the intersection of their race/ethnicity and gender.

View blog post

BAME webinar: Challenges faced at work

Recorded Monday 3 December 2018.

View webinar

Holocaust Memorial Day 2020: “Stand Together”

Holocaust Memorial Day, on 27 January 2020, will mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, where more than a million people perished in gas chambers, most of them Jews. The day is internationally marked in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust and other appalling acts of genocide, including later atrocities in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, and to recognise that the lessons of the Holocaust are still relevant, especially at a time when racism and extremism is on the rise across Europe.

View blog post

BAME book club: The Good Immigrant

Our most recent book is by Nikesh Shukla.

Kingsley Napley Diversity and Inclusion Statistics 2019

Download report

Share insightLinkedIn Twitter Facebook Email to a friend Print

Email this page to a friend

We welcome views and opinions about the issues raised in this blog. Should you require specific advice in relation to personal circumstances, please use the form on the contact page.

Leave a comment

You may also be interested in:

Skip to content Home About Us Insights Services Contact Accessibility