Jade LB, author of ‘Keisha the Sket’, talking to Nanette Benn, her aunt and artist. Credit: The Black Curriculum
It’s been 75 years since the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush ship on the shores of Essex, England on June 22, 1948.
On the ship were hundreds of Caribbean citizens, migrating to the UK after World War II. Between that day and 1971, around half a million people(opens in a new tab) travelled to England from Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Barbados. Those who arrived are collectively as “the Windrush generation”.
Despite being invited to permanently live and work in the country as Commonwealth citizens — and taking on crucial jobs(opens in a new tab) left vacant by a labour shortage, such as construction, public transport, and building the National Health Service (NHS)(opens in a new tab) — the Windrush generation faced discrimination and hostility in their new lives in Britain.
This isn’t something left to history; as recently as 2017, the British government’s shameful Windrush scandal(opens in a new tab) revealed thousands of people who had migrated to the UK from former British colonies weren’t given the proper documentation (or it had been destroyed). Many were subsequently denied legal rights, like housing, benefits, and employment, and many others were wrongfully detained and deported(opens in a new tab). Through investigative reporting by the Guardian(opens in a new tab), it was found in 2018 that “the Home Office had destroyed thousands of landing card slips recording Windrush immigrants’ arrival dates in the UK, despite staff warnings that the move would make it harder to check the records of older Caribbean-born residents experiencing residency difficulties.”
This unjust treatment of the Windrush generation has had very real effects(opens in a new tab) on thousands of families.
Today, the impact and influence of the Windrush generation remains immense on British culture — on politics(opens in a new tab), migration(opens in a new tab), music(opens in a new tab), and society(opens in a new tab). Two new podcasts, Objeks and Tings(opens in a new tab) and A Letter Home(opens in a new tab), are tracing and reflecting on this deeply embedded history, examining the legacy of Windrush 75 years later.
Objeks and Tings
The podcast focused on sentimental objects, representing history and heritage of the Carribean. Credit: Message Heard / Museumand.
A collaboration between podcast company Message Heard(opens in a new tab) and Museumand(opens in a new tab), The National Caribbean Heritage Museum, Objeks and Tings dives into the objects that represent Caribbean history, heritage, and joy. Hosted by Museumand’s founders, mother-daughter duo Catherine Ross and Lynda Burrell, the podcast runs for 12 episodes and tells various stories with the help of guests.
Objects examined in the podcast include a map of Barbados, a suitcase, and a Dutch Pot, the latter of which is the focus of the first episode. The introduction of these sentimental pieces of the past are used to tell wider stories about the Caribbean.
Mother-daughter duo Catherine Ross and Lynda Burrell host the podcast. Credit: Museumand / Message Heard.
The hosts said they curated the podcast to reflect and represent “various nationalities and Caribbean islands, classes, experiences and perspectives” of British-Caribbean people.
“The podcast will connect Caribbeans and others drawing them closer to the culture of the Caribbean, and is a great opportunity for everyone to share in. We hope people will listen, celebrate with us and take away a clear understanding of Caribbean history, heritage and culture.”
How to listen: Objeks and Tings is available on Apple Podcasts(opens in a new tab) and Spotify(opens in a new tab).
A Letter HomeLed by young Black British hosts of Caribbean descent, A Letter Home: In Praise of Windrush 75 is a four-episode podcast from social enterprise The Black Curriculum(opens in a new tab) and Spotify UK. Each 15-minute conversation delves into education, business, literature, food, and music passed down from the Windrush generation to young British people today.
NattyCanCook and his grandfather, who arrived in the UK at the age of 24 from Guyana. Credit: The Black Curriculum.
The podcast features JadeLB, author of Keisha the Sket, chef NattyCanCook, rapper Christale, and menswear designer Bianca Saunders. Two of the podcasts see hosts in intimate conversation with members of their families, including Natty’s grandfather(opens in a new tab) and Jade’s aunt Nanette Benn.
Cristale, a rapper and storyteller, in conversation with artist Linett Kamala. Credit: The Black Curriculum.
“These podcasts showcase some of the best of young Black British talent,” Lavinya Stennett, the founder of The Black Curriculum, says. “Seeing the seismic impact, the Black Caribbean communities continue to have on British culture and trends is a cause for celebration but also a time to reflect on challenges faced by the Windrush generation and what continues to need to be done to build a more cohesive and anti-racist society.”
How to listen: A Letter Home is available to watch on YouTube(opens in a new tab).
Meera is a Culture Reporter at Mashable, joining the UK team in 2021. She writes about digital culture, mental health, big tech, entertainment, and more. Her work has also been published in The New York Times, Vice, Vogue India, and others.