The 22nd of June marks Windrush Day – commemorating 75 years since Empire Windrush travelled from Kingston to post-war London. In recent years, following the implementation of pervasive hostile environment policies, Windrush has become almost synonymous with the scandal in 2018 which saw long-term citizens deported due to the goalposts of their rights being cruelly and continuously shifted. It is still unclear how many deportations took place in this period and how many people continue to be deported in this way.
Official remembrances can work to hide these cruel truths through commemorative coins and grand statues, obscuring the effects of Britain’s continued, though changed, imperial power. This time last year Professor Gus John aptly expressed this through the rejection of an invitation to the unveiling of a new statue:
The SS Windrush was not the Mayflower and those whom it brought to Britain were not pilgrim fathers and mothers. They were from the Caribbean but not of the Caribbean. They had had a life experience with Britain before boarding that ship, an experience defined by imperialism, colonialism and racism.
These experiences that John writes about are the foundation of the policies which create the political culture we see today. It treats and speaks of migrants abhorrently, and we mustn’t become desensitised to it. The anniversary of the Windrush calls for continued resistance and learning of the mechanisms of power that have historically constructed the violence of colonialism and the demonisation of migrants.