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Writer-Poet | Muses: Black and Mixed-Race histories, inequality, identity, arts et al| Race and Black History Educator | | E:

‘How working with a local community project forced me to rethink the Windrush Scandal

NorFAMtoN continues to show the importance of community organising (Photo Credit: NorFAMtoN)

Previously published by the NN Journal — 29th May 2021

When NorFAMtoN CEO Shereen Ingram asked me to join her project to help members of Northampton’s Windrush Generation, I jumped at the opportunity without a second thought, to give back to the people that raised me. I am still firmly of the belief that the village raises the child and for me, that village was Northampton’s Caribbean communities recalling my sites of childhood like the former-West Indian club on Claire Street. Additionally, watching men like my grandfather play steelpan across Northampton, including Monks Park Working Men’s Club on the Wellingborough Road bringing communities together over the melodies of my countrypeople.

I promised a colleague I would put this together so here it is. Whilst Whiteness Studies is multidisciplinary, I have given vague subheadings to help direct people to themes they are interested in … all these texts may well fit under multiple headings.

bell hooks, 1988. (Photo Credit: Montikamoss / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0)

“[White people] have a deep emotional investment in the myth of “sameness,” even as their actions reflect the primacy of whiteness as a sign informing who they are and how they think. Many … are shocked that black people think critically about whiteness because racist thinking perpetuates the fantasy that the Other who is subjugated, who is subhuman, lacks the ability to comprehend, to understand, to see the working of the powerful” — bell hooks (Black Looks, p167–168).

Saviours, Ignorance, Defense, Habits, and Privilege

Ahmed, Sara (2004) Declarations of Whiteness: The Non-Performity of Anti-Racism. Legal Studies in Gender and Sexuality.

I wrote this poem inspired by the work I have come across by academic Sara Ahmed on Whiteness (and other things). This poem is named for her article of the same name.

I have also found the attached video incredibly useful for people less academic in Whiteness, which brings this to the mainstream.

Sara Ahmed

In order to have Blackness or Brownness, we must have Whiteness

talking about racism puts the onus on the victim

without any inclination to discuss the system

it’s easy to talk in the language of DiAngelo or McIntosh

that keeps it between individuals, not how White power has quashed

and undermined movements like the Black Panthers

and DiAngelo tells a clipped narrative that doesn’t really answer

questions about history and we got to this

since White supremacy is fluid and adapts and disjoints itself to fit

cus terms like “fragility” and “privilege” tend to only flirt

at the frames…

I wrote this poem last year inspired by the these leaflets going around Bristol which got me thinking about Englishness and different White identities. This piece also somewhat comes inspired by a collection of essays called ‘White’ by Richard Dyer.

This would be an opportune moment to direct you to a great piece of poetry by Northamptonshire’s own Will Reid with his ‘My England’

A few months ago

there were leaflets going round Bristol

saying “it’s okay to white”

but that is not the same as being English

race and culture split like Brexit

I have been told I am English

but what is English culture

cus the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh

have theirs, with a pride in self

the etymology of English / England —

etymology meaning word history — comes from

the Old English pertaining to the Land of Angles

who were Germanic in origin

so, when the far-right boast English nation

history replies with songs of immigration


I started writing a poetry book in lockdown about late Millennials / Generation Z, and this is one of the poems I came up with.

Yes, I wrote a poem about Pokémon … fight me.

I have burned untold days

on Leaf Green, Emerald and Heart Gold

throwing balls at battle beasts for lols

just to give myself a shock to the system

that there’s more to life than 9 to 5

kids in 2016 spoke to me about Pokémon

like they discovered it. They stare perplexed

at my guffaw. I was there in its

heyday of 2004 in battles between

Magma and Aqua, and they still lecture me.

Photo by Thimo Pedersen on Unsplash

I couldn’t blame them. Once those ‘mons

latch on that’s you for life. They spoke of this

new magic called Pokémon Go. I remember


I wrote this piece after a fellow student on my masters course posted a poem by Palestinian-American poet-journalist Noor Hindi called ‘Fuck Your Lecture on Craft, My People Are Dying’

Additionally I also found it an incredibly sombre experience to attend a Free Palestine protest in Northampton in May 2021.

Photo by Munro Studio on Unsplash

My degree was a gentleman’s club

of dead poets. Tattooed trees planted by

corpsed hands from the Firm of

of Pitt & Pitt, an England gassed

by the Etonian variant. I wanted to pen

incantations on #MeToo and BLM

but we were forced to write about stems

and rosebuds. So, naturally I wrote of 400 years

in verse and line breaks that bloomed claret

not the sustained incandescence of the Mayflower

in big 2021 … but Black Britain looks cross-eyed

at the British Museum. Despite the

asylum-like White walls, 180,000 Londoners

marched for a free Palestine –

a nation state…

Working with Norfamton these past weeks on the Windrush Doorstep Befriending Team, it was interesting talking to Shereen on how the original critiques of the Scandal did not go far enough in their primary challenges to the Home Office.

My family history in Britain goes back to the 1960s. L-R: Great-Grandma Toiley, Cousin Rita , Grandma Cathy, Great-Auntie Rosie, and Great-Auntie Mona (front) (Source: Noel Family Archive)

Having grown up in close proximity to the Windrush Generation as a grandchild and great-grandchild of Jamaican and Grenadian migrants, watching the crisis unravel since 2018 struck a nerve. Before my paternal Jamaican grandparents moved from Staffs to Spain, I once upon a time would have been roaming around their house to see photographs harking back to their lives in the 1960s and 1970s. But today, I can only easily visit my maternal grandparents to see such photos of Black Northants in this era, in the years that followed numbers of Caribbean arrivals by air and sea.

In 2016, Professor David Olusoga released his documentary series ‘Black and British: A Forgotten History.’ In episode one ‘First Encounters’, archaeologist Dr Richard Benjamin talks about how proud he is of the men that stood watch at Aballava.

Whilst watching the first episode featuring Aballava, we must acknowledge that Olusoga and Benjamin were also not the first Black and Brown scholars to discuss Black history — from J. A Rogers and his work that combatted racist views of history, to Trinidadian Ron Ramdin on the working class, resulting in The Making of the Black Working Class in Britain (1987). A short breath after Peter Fryer’s Staying Power (1984). An argument could be made, though, is David Olusoga was the first to take it mainstream.

Anyone that was came through the British education system would have learnt about…

I wrote this poem inspired from a thread on Twitter I saw not long back all about the language Caribbean people use, something I have oft seen in members of the Windrush.

Source: Twitter (November, 2020)

You know your conversationalist

is a West Indian when they sit

mugging the Queen’s English

growing up I recall

my grandmother and her friends

Photo by Vladimir Soares on Unsplash

proclaiming Will Shakespeare “a jobsworth”

you know them ladies

with their diddly hands

like a cantankerous rex in the front room

instead of calling us kids rude

they would call us “boisterous youths”

or “rascals.” Women with names

like Phyllis that’d say

“I’m jos going out to the veranda”

using words like finicky

as she plays with her needle and thread

labelling her niece, a “craven buzzard”

for taking the last piece of plantain

like “highfalutin rapscallions”

Not wanting to get sucked into the recency bias that comes with new dramas, I waited three weeks to watch Bridgerton.

Writing as someone that watches an awful lot of historical dramas, it is by no means a surprise to see that Bridgerton was attacked for its inclusion of Black and Brown characters by the usual racist hordes in the period drama fandom. Also disliked by some for being ‘too modern’ in its construction, the modern-ness reminded me of what happened in the 2005 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House on BBC One. During the mid-naughties, the Andrew Davies adaptation of the classic Dickens novel took a massive step forward in the way television programmes of that kind were made…

Tré Ventour

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