Children of the Windrush Rally Support in Birmingham

Crowds gathered in Birmingham City Centre in protest of the treatment of those known as the ‘Windrush generation’.

Campaign group ‘Children of the Windrush Movement’ organised the rally in High Street on Saturday with guest speakers such as Birmingham City University Professor Dr. Kehinde Andrews, anti-racism campaigner Maxie Hayles and community activist Desmond Jaddoo.

People waved Jamaican flags and placards that read: ‘Windrush generation here to stay’.

Rev. Desmond Jaddoo led prayers calling on people to ‘rejoice for the contributions of our elders’ while remembering those who had been ‘stripped of their jobs’ and whose ‘families had been ripped apart’.

Mr Jaddoo said: “Nobody wants to talk about our contribution. There are those who want to belittle our contributions to this country. We are here today to say enough is enough.

“Unless we unite and start looking out for one another, who’s going to look out for us. We have seen for many years that people are not looking out for us. Until we get proper black representation we will never get the justice we deserve.”

The Home Office has recently come under fire after it was revealed that Commonwealth citizens who have lived in the UK for the last 50 years have been detained, made homeless, sacked or denied health care because they have struggled to prove they are British.


The Prime Minister earlier this week issued a statement that she was “genuinely sorry” for the pain caused to victims while Home Secretary, Amber Rudd apologised for the ‘appalling actions of her own department’.

Dr. Kehinde Andrews, founder of the Organisation of Black Unity (OBU) and co-chair of the Black Studies Association, said: “We need to send a message to Theresa May, a message of amnesty and reparation. There are plenty of people that can’t come back to this country because of what this government has done.

“When we were invited here, we were invited not as citizens but as subjects. They only let us in because they were desperate. The country was gone. It was run-down. They had no people to build it. So, they asked our parents and grandparents to come from the colony and to rebuild the NHS, the housing, the drains – the whole country.

“For the last 50 years they’ve been trying to get rid of us and this is just the latest example of that.”

He added: “I was born and raised in Birmingham and I’m still a subject – subject to police brutality, subject to poverty, subject to racial discrimination but it’s not going anywhere.”

“Racism is as British as a cup of tea. It is what this country is built on.”

Maxi Hayles, said: “We must put pressure on this government. Who is next to be deported and denied rights? Are they going to turn on my daughter who was born in Worcester? Are they going to turn on my son who was born in Birmingham?”

“This government has endeavoured to murder and humiliate our people. We cannot allow this atrocity to continue.”



Love Island: The Revolution Televised

On the official launch night ITV2’s Love Island, returning for its second series, quickly amassed over two million viewers as well as an additional one million followers across respective social media platforms. Yet even with its popularity among diverse audiences, it manages to remind me that ‘old sins cast long shadows’. Love Island and shows of this nature often present themselves as a distraction from the mundane, our source of escapism via our television sets. Part of the allure lies in the choice of exotic location; a taste of the fantastical while giving us a glimpse into the lives of people playing out before us. Love Island appears at times to be unintentionally giving us a microcosm of where society lies at present. An island where rampant licentiousness is promulgated over our television screens begs the question of whether programs like these help in lowering moral standards within society. When contestants are encouraged to flaunt their sexual exploits to an audience all too happy to celebrate this behaviour, then should we also view the fascination with love island as a by-product of social movements like the sexual revolution that took place in the 1960s, which sought to influence and shape how we view issues of morality and sexuality in society?

Love Island is a show centred around contestants (islanders) thrown together in a villa located in Mallorca. Just like all good reality TV shows today, the star of the show is the ever watchful video camera, the Orwellian ‘big brother’, capturing surveillance of the islanders’ every move and relaying back to audiences every sordid detail. Within Love Island the term ‘survival of the fittest’ takes on a literal meaning, as these contestants couple up with each other motivated by first impressions, which often boils down to whether a person is fit or not, ‘love’ (or whatever constitutes love nowadays) or friendship, while not forgetting the small sum of £50,000, the ultimate prize these couples hope to attain if they survive the island without being eliminated. Far from being a model for promoting healthy, monogamous relationships, the couples within the island have the option to ‘re-couple’, essentially swapping out partners as they feel, leaving the jilted partner vulnerable and open to elimination. Ultimately, as with the general trend within the world of reality television, the public vote often is a huge factor in determining  a couples’ fate on the island, with the couples who receive the fewest votes being sent home.

It is difficult to avoid the stark parallels and not view the sexual revolution of the swinging sixties as the precursor to this. The ‘sexual revolution,’ also known as the sexual liberation was both a social and political movement that aimed to challenge the conventional attitudes and social mores of the previous generation. The post-war babies of the 40s and 50s had now become soldiers and revolutionaries in their own right, conscripted into a battle to redefine sex. It built itself on the premise that sex could no longer be repressed by church and state and instead advocated for greater sexual freedom. Once liberated from being confined to the marital bed, it was now enjoyed by those unmarried. This resulted in an increase in divorce rates whilst simultaneously giving way to a dramatic decrease in those seeking marriage. With this new attack on the intimacy of sex, it quickly became a public affair as people took to the squares, parks and public spaces as communal sex was practiced with increasing fervency.

If the sexual revolution was to succeed in setting the world alight, it needed the right amount of fuel to ignite it and found it in abundance. The introduction of the birth control pill in 1960, giving women unprecedented access to new methods of contraception meant that they were now free to practice casual sex without ‘consequences’. Innovations in the world of medicine also allowed greater sexual freedom as sexually transmitted diseases such as syphillis were now treatable with penicillin. Of course, with heightened promiscuity among sexual partners, venereal disease was still rife. However, with the shift in attitudes this was celebrated in active rebelliousness and defiance, worn like a badge of honour immune to any social stigma and ridicule. Television also became a useful tool through out the sixties. As the social and political struggles of the sexual revolution gained momentum, television, still in its infancy granted an easier and more accessible method of transmitting the views and values of the movement. People felt the sense of interaction with the social shift occurring now that television had become an effective machine for normalizing sexual behaviour.

The sexual revolution was championed by other movements of the time, most notably, the feminist movement, who equated this sense of sexual freedom as a way of gaining equality for women. With more women entering the world of employment during this period, many feminists seized the sexual revolution as another milestone reinforcing womens’ right to choose their own sexual partners without conforming to the dictates of family or religious institutions. In retrospect, it becomes difficult to view the sexual revolution as anything more than declaring it ‘open season’ on the continued objectification of women, as often, their male counterparts in this revolution only found value in the fleeting and momentary pleasure during the act of sex. Whilst sexual gratification may have been attained by both parties, it gave men free reign to detach themselves of all feeling and emotion, ridiculing women who sought deeper relationships. Framed in those terms, it seems fair to conclude that the sexual revolution of the sixties never achieved its purpose in attempting to recreate a sexual experience devoid of personal attachment.

Just as television played a crucial role in promoting this revolution to a wider audience, it feels like mainstream media are more than happy to pick up the baton dropped by the ‘soldiers of the sixties’, with television shows such as Love Island, the brainchild of a socially flawed movement. Together with the introduction of social media platforms, media corporations appear caught in a web of their own contradictions. On one hand, often leading the fight in efforts to combat and police the so called ‘dark side’ of the web in an era where with the click of a button, audiences are transported to a world where the effects of the sexual revolution are clearly seen, a world where sexual immorality is exploited all in the pursuit of profit and at the same time, television broadcasters are reverting audiences back to an age that celebrated licentiousness with shows that amount to nothing more than dramatized version of the swinging sixties.




Mexico: A Tale of Two Cities

Colonialism is the immovable stain on the fabric of humanity. A nation free from its grasp may strive to erase its dark past, yet its indelible marks remain on the land and its people. Survival of the fittest, they brand it, the strong devouring the weak has become the blueprint for mass murder, providing ample justification for military occupation, the raping and pillaging of lands, the dehumanization of a people ultimately stripping an entire nation of its identity. Those that opt to defend and protect their homeland face imprisonment and death. The skewed and twisted ideologies borne out of greed, racism and a flawed theology inspire men to lay waste to whole communities.  Only when submission is seen as the only viable option is hegemony allowed to run its course, convincing a nation that their actions are morally justified, its people now contained inside the walls of their invisible prison, enjoying faux freedoms. Despite the efforts to take control of an occupied land and its indigenous people, resistance remains and victory is measured in terms of independence. And yet, as much as any oppressed nation feels a sense of liberation, the shackles of influence left behind are harder to remove.

This is the reality I saw all too clearly while travelling through Mexico City. Five hundred years sit between present day Mexico and the Mexico which the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortés would have encountered in 1519, but its history is in plain view, only for those paying attention to it. There is a strange dualism that exists within the walls of this historic city, two separate cities weaved into one, each relaying their own narrative. It is no coincidence that both the Metropolitan Cathedral housed within the Zocalo that flanks the Templo Mayor or the Catholic church of Santiago in Tlatelolco within the Square of the Three Cultures, are both erected on top of Aztec ruins. Their positioning feels all the more intentional, another statement signifying dominance; Roman Catholicism, the import of Spain superseding the archaic, primitive religion of old. It is worth noting that though Cortés succeeded in desecrating the Aztec temples, known for the worship of multiple deities, most notable being Tlaloc, the god of water and Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, yet the endless canonisation of saints and the worship of Mary, to the point where Jesus appears a mere afterthought seems to have replaced the old religion only to end up with more of the same. Though Roman Catholicism now accounts for roughly 80% of people residing in Mexico, there have been huge strides within archaeology to excavate the majority of the Aztec sites. It feels much like the resilient spirit of a people, proud of their heritage and ancestry displaying their history for the world to see.

Whilst the Mexican people relish in their rich history, I often wonder whether time has been somewhat kind to the memory of Cortés. After five hundred years, he still cuts a splendid figure, his legend unmarred by the atrocities he committed in the name of the Spanish crown. Should the slaughter of thousands of innocent people and the theft of their homeland based on an ideology rooted in ethnocentrism be seen as piracy or even better still terrorism? Then again, the Spanish colonial period could also be seen as a balancing of the books with history coming full circle. After all, the Aztecs, after initially migrating to what is known as the Valley of Mexico and founding Mexico-Tenochtitlan (modern day Mexico City) immediately implemented a system of expanding their sphere of authority and influence by carving for themselves an empire consisting of neighbouring tribes they conquered. Ultimately history is decided by its winners.

Much of ancient Aztec worship was rooted in their sacrificial system. Human sacrifice was a constant feature based on the belief that blood was the an essential component needed to enable the sun to rise every day, and became the theological framework by which they fought wars against neighbouring tribes, taking prisoners for human sacrifice. New discoveries in archaeology are beginning to shed more light on the culture surrounding Aztec human sacrifice.

It is a notion which continues to be one that we gaze upon with utter disbelief and one that seems to offend all our moral sensibilities. Our common response to these seemingly inhumane, archaic, primitive forms of worship is to look upon them with disgust and to vilify this ancient civilization that has much to teach us. As i visited these sites, I began to wonder just how the Aztecs would view our willingness to sacrifice our children on self made altars of ‘financial burden’ or the ‘altar of inconvenience’ all in the name of reproductive rights. When placed in juxtaposition with the Aztec sacrificial system, is abortion any less inhumane because our tools are sterilized or it takes place under the safe haven of a clinic?







Donald Trump, the 45th President

The crowd that descended on Capitol Hill to witness the swearing in of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump seemed sparse in comparison to the turnout in 2009 for the outgoing president, Barack Obama. But for Trump and his sea of supporters, this was a victory nonetheless. On the inaugural platform, in the spirit of democracy, Obama and Trump seemingly put aside their party politics and greeted each other with pleasantries and for that moment at least, the whole of Capitol Hill remained calm and oblivious to the acts of vandalism and revolt from anti-Trump protesters that engulfed much of Washington. In that sense the various choirs that participated in the inaugural ceremony such as the Missouri State University Chorale with their beatific voices helped to drown out the deafening sounds of dissension that has beome the defining anthem for much of Donald Trump’s political campaign. Unlike the voices that commanded a sense of stillness and tranquility to the proceedings, Trump and his administration will now take on a fractured and divisive country in the most turbulent period of America’s history.

The inaugural address, lasting the duration of twenty minutes recaptured earlier themes of nationalism, protectionism and the patriotism of the American people while delivering a verbal assault on the Establishment that has dominated Washington, reminding us that “Today we are not merely transferring power from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington DC and giving it back to you, the people”. Does this transferring of power include the segments of society like women and the disabled that were often denigrated and made to feel powerless, or should we now cast all of Trump’s previous statements in to a box and file it away under “locker room talk?”

The tone and delivery of his inaugural address appeared intentionally devoid of all the ambiguous language that is commonplace amongst previous presidents. Trump seemed to dispose of the political prose in favour of straight talking in a dialect aimed at reaching all America. Though his lack of prowess on the podium of politics has become an indictment of being unqualified for the newly assumed position, in time it may prove an aid in pointing out the dissimilarities between his government and the Establishment he hopes to topple. The address was very heavy on promises, without the slightest indication on how he was to deliver on them, and on numerous occasions, the new president resorted to his default campaign catchphrases such as putting “America First”. I suppose just how he plans to implement his policies will become much clearer in the days and weeks that follow. Hopefully, statements referencing “the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen so many lives” will not just be reduced to clever soundbites, but instead we will begin to see the ways he seeks to combat these issues. Often the address took a more socialist slant with an eloquence similar to that of his predecessor suggesting that “whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky and they are infused with the same breath of life by the Almighty creator. At this juncture it is difficult to discern whether this reimagined utopia Trump speaks of is just mere hyper-patriotism keeping with the traditions of the inaugural address dating as far back as 1789 in Washington’s own address.

There is undoubtedly an air of uncertainty when considering what shape a presidency under Trump will take. Perhaps this was communicated early in the inaugural ceremony when the Missouri senator Roy Blunt recited a letter from Major Sullivan Ballou addressed to his wife, Sarah. Written in 1861, the letter speaks of Sullivan’s resolve in the heart of battle. Certainly Blunt referenced this letter, hoping to stoke the fires of patriotism and nationalism lying dormant in the citizens of America but the line that unintentionally seems to capture the shared sentiments for those in America and elsewhere with a heartfelt poignancy is: “Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure – and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me”…