They Paved The Way For Us

This is a poem dedicated to all the Caribbean’s who paved the way for future generations like me. Being of Jamaican heritage my Grandparents like most others came to England to build a new life. I’m forever thankful to each and every one of them.

They volunteered in WW1 and WW2
Fighting for Britain still under Colonial rule
Volunteering to serve the ‘Motherland’
After the war was won some of them stayed
In Britain and some went back to the Caribbean

But the country needed rebuilding
After the war so this Mother
Beckoned her children to come back
From the land of Wood and Water
They made an 5,000 mile journey from Jamaica
Still under Colonial rule

In 1948 the SS Empire Windrush docked at the Tilbury gates
An alien land which they thought they knew
They learnt so much about Britain in school
But little did they know
That what they were taught was untrue

Streets dem paved with gold
That’s what they were taught in Jamaica
That’s what they were taught back home
But when dem reach its a different story
This motherland was not a glory

No warm embrace from this Mother to her children
But dem here now so wha dem ago do?
Better go look job ah factory
If dem will even accept you

What a wikid country though eeeee
Same one invite you
Same one who turn him back
With him Rivers of Blood speech
But Jamaicans are born resilient
Enoch Powell nuh ready fi dat

Refused housing so dem start a pardner
Enabling them to buy their first house
The jubilation they must have felt

The front room took on a new dimension
Paraffin heater Radiogram Jim reeves
In their front room they took pride

But for all their hard work
And sacrifice they still weren’t
Accepted no matter how hard dem try

Then dem bring in SUS laws
The right to stop and search
Tensions rising

The second generation said
Enough is enough
Discriminated against and
Tired of not feeling accepted
So riots erupt

Of course the media uses
This to their advantage
I’m third generation British born
Never even step foot in Jamaica
But I know one day I’ll reach for sure

This is just a little poem to
Remember those that paved the way
For themselves and for us
They encountered many barriers
But in Britain they made a life
67 later their presence is still alive

I will always remember and
I would urge you to remember too
Always spare a thought for the West Indians
That paved the way for me and for you
If they did it we can
Society hasn’t changed that much
Things may be a little more undercover
But the struggle is the same

Strive for better time to stop
Playing the blame game
Let’s build on the foundations they built
Its not easy I know
But with strength and determination
Our community will further prosper for sure

Resilience Through Testing Times

How resilient are you? – Sometimes resilience is the only choice we have.

I often sit back and reflect on both my teenage years and early adult hood. The time I wasted, missed opportunities and frivolous spending.

I coasted through life, with no sense of direction, depending heavily on my Mum. But in July 2010 my life changed forever! when my Mum passed away, I was 20 and my sister was 10. At these tender ages were hit with a pain that resides in our heart daily.

I became my sisters guardian and head of the household. The responsibility was overwhelming! I went from a 20 year old with not a care in the world, to a 20 year old with the world pressing down on her shoulders.

My zest for life was snatched from me. The woman I would always turn to for guidance, and protection, my confidant was gone. My Mum the person who loved me more than anyone else ever will.

The sense of despair I felt is unexplainable.

I would often lay in bed for hours, not wanting to accept the responsibility, still longing for my Mum. Having no sense of direction before my Mum passed away was inexcusable. But after she passed away that lack of direction became ten fold.

There were some days I had the mental strength to deal with household things,  but other days I just didn’t want to know.

Year after year I became less constructive, securing the odd job here and there, but never on a long term basis.

In 2013 I got a job in a phone shop which was going fairly well, but the company went into liquidation. So I found myself unemployed, yet another challenge,  coupled with the never ending mourning for my Mum. I began to drift again.

Feeling like I wasn’t setting the right example to my sister, and wondering what my Mum would think of her daughter wasting her life away, especially when she worked so tirelessly to for us to have a brighter future. The burden became heavier.

Then in 2014 I had an impromptu visit from my family this taught me two things 1) always hide your mail and 2) keep your room meticulous as you never know who will turn up on your doorstep unannounced.

But above all this visit was a big wake up call, they said what I already knew. I was 24 and going nowhere fast, my future seemed bleak if I was to continue with this lackadaisical mentality. For the very first time I felt compelled to take ownership of my future.

Which I did, applying for over 200 hundred jobs online, but to no avail no feedback nothing. But with this new sense of determination I wasn’t going to stop.

There were the odd days when I used to sit at home and do nothing, frustrated with the lack of success I was having. But most days nothing could stop me, and of course no hardship lasts forever.

So fast forward to 2015, and I have made significant progress. After volunteering for a little over a year with a wonderful women’s charity, who advocate for disadvantaged young women. A position came up and I’m now an employee.

I was also selected onto a Leadership Programme in my local area, which aims to address the under representation of BME’s in Civic life. I have written blogs, given speeches sharing my story hoping to inspire others, and more! And of course now I have launched my own blog. (Finally)

Despite all the hardships I have faced and the lack of direction I had for myself. I have taught myself how to be resilient, in every situation. I will never stop grieving for my Mum.

But I know I owe it to my Mum to make sure I excel because I cannot let her sacrifice go in vain. She made it her lives work as a Mother, to provide both me and my sister with everything we need so we can achieve the life we want, and the life she wanted for us.

I will end by saying “no matter how hopeless the situation may look, keep going allow yourself to wallow briefly but remain resilient! Be sure to acknowledge your progression in life no matter how big or small. I was a slow starter but slow and steady wins the race.”

What it means to be Black in Britain

It means:

• Being three times more likely to be tasered by Police
• 50% more likely to be detained under the mental health act
• 28% more likely to be stopped and searched by Police

This is the harsh reality of being black in Britain and it’s easy, to want to shy away from these shocking statistics. Although I knew that we are still heavily discriminated against and are still viewed as the inferior race.

I don’t think I fully comprehended, the true severity of the situation until a few weeks ago, when I came face to face with what it truly means to be black in Britain.

On the 3rd October 2015 I attended an event in Brixton, which commemorated the 30th year that Cherry Groce was wrongfully shot by the Metropolitan Police in 1985. Police raided Cherry’s home claiming they were looking for her son, the shooting left Miss Groce paralysed for the next 30 years of her life.

In 2014 (29 years later) a jury found that there were eight failings by the Police. The inquest revealed that the Police should have never raided the property in the first place. Cherry Groce died in 2011, her death, linked to the gunshot wound she sustained in ‘85’.

After the inquest Bernard Hogan-Howe Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, apologised unreservedly to the family. For the irreparable damage caused, he vowed he would support the family in getting full acknowledgement for their suffering.

After extending his support to the family, then, and in the months that followed, Bernard Hogan-Howe’s lawyers informed the family in March this year, that he will no longer be engaging in any conversation with them, with no explanation.

Please sign this petition
https://www.change.org/p/sir-bernard-hogan-howe-30-years-on-and-still-no-justice-for-the-death-of-cherry-groce, to help the family meet their 25,000 signatures, so the commissioner and the Police have to accept accountability after 30 long years.

Being present at the commemoration event moved me in such a profound way, tears filled my eyes as I watched Cherry’s Granddaughter weep. I questioned how the Police could be granted the permission to carry out this act of brutality. In this case leaving 5 children (8 being the youngest) to physically care for their paralysed Mother.

I cannot even being to imagine the sense of pain and despair, witnessing this happening to your Mum the protector and provider. Yet this innocent family has been left to mourn and challenge the system at every turn, to hold those responsible accountable.

Although I felt sickened and deeply saddened by what the Police did. This event emphasised to me the solidarity we have as a community. As I heard of the initiatives and campaigns that started as a result. I felt uplifted and hopeful to see first hand, the unity and mental strength of those that were on the front line, working tirelessly to achieve equality and justice for Cherry Groce and for our community.

We could be perfect strangers yet bound by the colour of our skin, united in our mission in achieving justice and equality. I left that event feeling even more proud of being black and I made a promise to myself that I would be more active in my work, in trying to gain equality for my community.

Since, I have joined the London Campaign against Police and State Violence, who are working to hold the Police accountable for police brutality and murder.

Other cases I would like to raise awareness of are:

Cynthia Jarrett – died in 1985 when four Police officers unlawfully raided her home looking for what they claimed was stolen property but found none. Miss Jarrett suffered a heart attack whilst the raid took place,and died upon arrival at the hospital. The police stated ‘the raid had gone without incident’.

Joy Gardner – died 1993 after the police raided her home, wanting to deport her back to Jamaica. They restrained her with 13 foot tape of adhesive wrapped around her head, handcuffs, leather straps. She collapsed and suffered brain damage, she died after suffering a cardiac arrest four days later. Three officers stood trial for manslaughter but were found not guilty.

These are just a few cases of many, although two of the tragedies took place before I was born, the last I make reference to, happened in 1993 when I was only four. Oblivious to the injustices, and years later some of us are still oblivious to the suffering caused at the hands of the Police. These cases have been swept under the carpet so neatly, Police Officers who should have been held to account have been granted freedom, freedom which they so heartlessly took away from innocent victim’s such a Cherry Groce.

I now look at society differently, as that’s what it means to be black in Britain.