28 April 2018

Windrush - movement of the people

Last night, before speaking at the London Synod today, I went with friends to the Peacock Theatre in London to see the production by Phoenix Dance Company of "Windrush - movement of the people". I am very unversed in modern dance, so found the performances in the first half of the evening- "Calyx" and "Shadows" - intriguing but rather mystifying.

The second half, however, telling the story of the folk who came to Britain in 1948 on the S.S.Windrush (and on other boats in subsequent years) was mesmerising, powerful, vibrant and poignant.

Of course this is hugely topical as the Government find themselves in disarray about their recent treatment of so many Caribbean-British-citizens who, as the soundtrack to the dance made clear, came because "you called", but often met racism and hostility from the country they viewed as the "Motherland".

A brilliant scene danced by women with white paper faces, using washing lines and underwear, spelled out the unpalatable and shameful slogan often seen in the windows of rented accommodation; "No blacks, no dogs, no Irish".

The energy and passion of the dancers and the injustice and power of the story came over forcibly and the audience received it enthusiastically. If you have the opportunity do try to see it. More information here

The Methodist Church in Britain owes a huge amount to the "Windrush generation" who, despite often receiving treatment in churches which was at best ungracious, and at worst, racist, have nevertheless shown courage and grace in sticking with Methodism and have, in many places, transformed and revitalized church life and worship. That message was clearly reinforced for me today at Synod.

JPIT are publicising the news that the House of Commons will be debating Windrush on Monday afternoon and are sharing advice on asking MPs to attend. Visit www.jcwi.org.uk for more information.

Memories of the loving, generous, hospitable way in which Andrew, Timothy, Peter and I were received when we landed as Mission Partners in the Caribbean in 1994 make me doubly ashamed of our current national behaviour.

Jill Baker

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