November 11th 2019 sees 100 years in Britain celebrating Remembrance Day. Of late, unsung Black War Veterans are now being mentioned in the main service held at the Cenotaph in Whitehall as contributors to both World War I and World War II. Do you, your family or friends know who Walter Tull was?
Black History is annually celebrated in October; however I believe Black History should be acknowledged and celebrated throughout the year. Black History Month UK is an organisation which ensures that the greatness of these people is commended all year round.
Blackhistorymonth.org.uk Knowing the impact and influence this race of people had in Britain is a realisation that should be highlighted and not maintained as unspoken or hidden information that gradually surfaces once a year.
I have been fascinated about the lives of those of the HMT Empire Windrush generation who paved the way for the Black community we see in Britain today. June 22nd 2018 saw the first annual event appreciating these roots planted in Britain.
Annual-day-of-celebrations-for-the-windrush-generation My fascination extends to how they coped with the memory of contrasting rainbow coloured clothes, houses and sunny blue skies to the thickness of grey days, grey/brown clothes, sub-zero temperatures and the blinding blanket of fog.
Andrea Levy a lady who has captured this great gathering of patron’s feelings and challenges, Black People faced during this historical time. Levy, an author of several books cataloguing their journeys, challenges and despair captured my attention when I first read ‘Small Island’. Her detailed insight in ‘Every Light in the House Burnin’ depicts the hardship faced in the resettlement, as many paid their own fares to travel and help re-build Great Britain, following World War II.
This vital life line to Britain that saw Black People out stretch their support was never taught in schools of this diaspora. Societies of all races are growing up not realising the importance the Windrush generation were for the rebuilding of Britain. Stories of ‘Streets paved with gold and the Mother Country’ were mantras I would over hear as these pioneering trend setters distinctively retell and off-load their gruelling tales with candour. These tales were the only education taught to the first generation by mimicking bigots surrounded by family, friends and food! Is there somebody listening to them today and however did their mental health endure this?
Black People in Britain were exceptionally creative in supporting each other during the backlash they faced and were to find encouragement and reinforcement in building their own unique communities.
9 Two are better than one,Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up…
These resourceful ventures ensured they were productive during the dark times when British businesses refused to offer their services to enable Black People to integrate appropriately and safely by,
- Aligning themselves with other ostracised communities like the Irish, Eastern Europeans in building acceptance
- Creating financial bodies such as saving associations -‘Pardna, SooSoo’
- Organising churches that mirrored their cultures and traditions
- Playing music with lyrics reflecting their homeland and current positions
- Sports – cricket and dominoes in which most communities would have their own clubs
- ‘Shoobines’ (house parties) and carnivals colourful recreational outlets
Today, I look back to see that this union of creativity paved the way for 2nd, 3rd and up to 5th generations of Windrush Trend Setters. Strong and deep roots were established in their resilience to fighting through racism, rejection and ridicule. This in reality was oppressive rather than an opportunity to helping ‘The Mother Country’.
Fast forward several decades the same struggles but with a different undertone seem apparent. Yes, equal rights and discrimination laws now exists to ensure the practices of the past are extinguish but for some this gesture is in name only. This extends to the mental well-being of Black People who are disproportionately diagnosed with mental illness or not offered access to talking therapies.
Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPTs) is a useful resource to inform those experiencing poor mental health before medication or being detained. England.nhs.uk/mental-health/adults/iapt/ Here individuals can self-refer for free talking therapies and is accessible to anyone over 18 years old and registered with a GP. Familiarise yourself and your church of services and be another facet of information for this under-represented group not exposed fully to mental health resources.
The Government have produced figures (see below) highlighting groups which are being detained under the Mental Health Act.
Here The Mental Health Organisation shares alarming information on mental health within the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community.
These reports are not just detailed but lengthy and doesn’t make good bedtime reading. However it is important to know how and what is happening within your community and/or identify ways in which you and your church can are best useful in creating relevant ministries reflective of these disparities.
Although the government are aware of these observations, there still appears to lack information as to how, what and when these changes will take affect or even look like. Many governing agencies who can make a difference continue to only add strong contributing factors and recommendations while real changes still remain unclear.
Most of these agencies makes no mention of the Church, other than those detained should not be restricted to attend a multi-faith room. So, how are we as a church in raising awareness of this inequality amongst this influential group of people who are being represented in this way?
Today see communities of the Windrush legacy still charismatic but despondent on how far they have come as race. Can they see how the roots planted all those years ago have now grown and developed into strong beautiful fruit? There is still a lot of work in relation to ‘Knife crime and youth gang culture’ among the Black community, let us give thanksgiving praises to God as these blessed roots are now being recognised for their skill and beauty as Senior
- Business Owners
- Church Leaders
- Law Enforcers
- Medical Practioners
- Music Moguls
LE – Mental Health Matters is passionate in ensuring that the Church re-connects with the community on unsaid issues like mental health, racism, homelessness and poverty. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10 (NIV)
What roots are we supportive of and thankful for as Christians?