Although Black unemployment was high around 1920, the UK authorities made it harder for blacks to gain employment. A measure was put in place that would later be manifested as the Immigration Acts of 1962, 1965, 1968 and 1971.
The immigration Act meant that in order to get a job, all one has to do is provide proof of nationality.
Easy isn’t it, all you need to do is provide proof of British nationality and you can get a job. This was a problem because when the law was introduced, the majority of black people at the time were not British nationals.
Black people were brought to Britain by the British government to help fight the first world war. They were brought to Britain to help rebuild the country after the war or were originally brought over in slave ships.
Now they are ‘freemen’, the government puts in another hurdle for them to find work. It seems like this an act was brought in to appease the nationals and ensure they always get preferential treatment over the foreign nationals.
When standalone, that seems fair. Remember, it WAS British government who brought the foreign nationals from around the Empire into Britain.
The British government did not award them with the promises that were made, and instead the black population were left exposed in a new country to fight for themselves.
The locals did not like this new influx of foreign people coming to ‘take our jobs’, and therefore started to campaign against the foreigners. What if the people knew the whole story? Would the people come together and revolt against the government?
Is ignorance to an issue an excuse? We are all different and therefore handle situations differently, but upon entering adulthood I realised that if there were situations I was not happy with, I had to look into it to find out the cause and then I have the information to inform my next steps.
Information is out there for everyone to be informed on the issues. What if the news was out there to disguise the classism that is present in our society keeping us divided?
Famous activist, vegan and poet Benjamin Zephaniah wrote a poem that wills the people to come together and understand that the government incites separation.
He frequently references this poem in his interviews and cites the story when he was confronted by National Front (NF) members who accused him and other minorities of stealing their jobs and homes.
Zephaniah proceeded to take the NF members to the area where the minorities were living, and after asking them how they thought the properties looked, they responded “shit!”.
Some have the privilege of their country not being conquered and destroyed. Therefore they did not have to travel to foreign places looking for money and medial work.
That must be a humbling experience. Living your whole life in your motherland, but have to move in search for money and/or safety. Once you have found refuge, your next battle starts. The national press then start to vilify you and other migrants for stealing jobs and houses from the people in the country.
As people of this country, we have a choice to make. We can listen to the words told and blame immigrants for the lack of jobs, houses, rise in crime and whatever they get blamed for. Or we can come together and stop bickering among ourselves and rise as one class of people.
There is much to be said of the way this government behaves, and I mean in the sense of what they make public knowledge and what they do in the background. But also the policies they approve what important parts of the text is hidden within the legislation.
I understand that the government should be making its own people a priority, but I believe that there are better ways to go about things. Ways that do not divide the country, ways that do not mean sending out narratives that it is the foreigners fault that the nationals do not have a job.
The government should just hold their hands up and admit their faults. It’s not as if we, the people can do anything about it anyway.
What are your thoughts on the Immigration Act?
Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem titled fight:
If you get uptight and you want to fight,
Fight dem, not me.
And see things not right,
See dem, Not me.
I came, I saw, I live here and I have my tribulation to
If you live in a kitchen and you can’t afford chicken,
Blame dem, not me.
If the tax you pay is high and you’re living in the sky,
Feed dem, not me