by Ahmed Sule, CFA
Happy Valentine’s Day. Let me begin by congratulating all of you on the continuous humiliation of the Windrush Generation. Over two years after it was revealed that many Windrush generation members were wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights, these citizens are yet to get justice. Victims have not been adequately compensated; some Windrush campaigners and other victims have died. The hostile attitude towards black and brown immigrants continues.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” In 2015, Ambassador Matthew Rycroft at a Security Council open debate said, “How a society treats its most vulnerable is always the measure of its humanity.” When one looks at how the British Government has treated the Windrush Generation; when one looks at its role in the Grenfell Tower fire; when one looks at its dehumanisation of asylum seekers — one has no choice but to conclude that Britain is a shameless society with no drop of humanity in its blood or soul.
But should we be surprised? Not really. Britain has a long history of dehumanising black and brown people both within and outside of the country. It has no shame riding on the back of black and brown members of the Windrush generation to extract wealth and labour only to disregard them once it has enriched itself. Though I was born in this country and have a British passport, I do not regard myself as British. Instead, I see myself as a Nigerian who happens to reside in Britain. It is time for so-called Black Brits to realise that they cannot be both black and British.
The government speaks with two sides of its mouth. It has no shame telling the Russian government to “Respect and comply with its international commitments on human rights, and release citizens detained during peaceful demonstrations.” Simultaneously, it builds Category 3-style prisons to detain people who have had their UK residency applications denied.
Your colleague Dominic Raab recently stated to the House of Commons, “We will continue to speak up for what is right, and we will back up our words with actions. Faithful to our values, determined as a truly Global Britain to be an even stronger force for good in the world.” This so-called force for good excludes the old and frail members of the Windrush generation amongst other black and brown folks. It excludes Sarah O’Connor, a Windrush campaigner who died in September 2018, “They made me feel like I’m not British.” It excludes Paulette Wilson, the late Windrush activist who faced deportation, “I felt like I didn’t exist.” It excludes Hubert Howard, a black man who spent the last two months of his life fighting for British citizenship from an intensive care bed, “They messed up my life. It excludes 84-year-old Ivan Anglin, “I was like a lamb to the slaughter.” It excludes Roy Harrison, who now lives in a bin shed, “The Home Office just wants me to lie down and die.”
Britain has lost its moral compass (assuming it had one in the first place). I often wonder what the government’s game plan as far as the Windrush generation is concerned. Is it to play the waiting game until every member of that generation is dead? Perhaps the British government should rid itself of its hypocrisy and make it plain — BLACKS ARE NOT WELCOME HERE. Obviously, it will not do so. Instead, it will continue to use the prevalence of its high ranking black and brown government officials to gaslight us about the non-existence of racism in Britain.
Forgive me for sounding emotional. If your relatives and people who look like you were dehumanised in the manners mentioned above, I am sure you would be less restrained. I guess in response to all that has been written; the government will put me on some watchlist, blacklist, red list or whatever type of negative list used to surveil and punish those critical of its policies in response to what I have written. If that is the price for telling the truth, so be it.
In conclusion, please bear in mind that history is replete with the bleached bones of short-sighted nations and empires that ill-treated and ignored the cries of its most vulnerable citizens.
Ahmed Sule, CFA
14 February 2021