Alison

Alison was born in Grenada, and immigrated to Britain at 16 years of age. In her working life she worked as bookkeeper and then manager. Alison is a Mother and Grandmother, she currently lives in Ardwick.

"When I came to britain, I didn't want to know anything about where I was from, it was a defence mechanism"

My Journey to Britain

"Once I came into this country I put up a wall, washed everything out of my mind, because I didn’t want to come here. But my parents said: ‘you are going’.

 

I just put this dislike I didn’t want to know anything about where I am from, because as I told my Aunty ‘you made me come, I didn’t want to come’.

 

I had no choice, but back in the west Indies you do as your told. 

 

On the Saturday morning, mum said: ‘Get dressed’. I had to put my Sunday best on and I said where we going it’s Saturday its not church?’

 

And my Auntie said: ‘you are in for a surprise you are going on a plane! You are going to meet your Dad’

 

I didn’t know my father.

 

My Auntie said: ‘when you are going for the plane, turn back, because you might never see some of these people again.’

 

And I said ‘I am not turning back because I don’t like anyone of you, because you made me go!’

 

So, it took me 20 years before I went home. I was 32 when I first went back home.

When I did go home, people opened their arms to me. It was shocking because I did not get that in England. 

 

Whenever I go home I am welcomed with open arms, when I come back here I am nothing.  

My Parents

 

My dad was here because he worked with Kennings Motor Company, when I was born he was in Aruba, so all my life until I was 16 I was with my mum. Everybody had their mum and dad and I only hand my mum and my uncles.  To me my dad was dead - nobody spoke about him at all - till I heard I am coming to England to meet my dad.

 

I think that experience made me feel hatred for everybody, and then when I came to this country I saw, the way that white people are treated in my country, and we didn’t get that in England. I have been spat on, the kids have been spat on.

 

People telling you ‘go back to the jungle, go and climb the trees’ and I am thinking ‘that what they speaking about?!?’

 

My dad said ‘get used to it’

 

I said ‘why did you bring me here’.

 

There was no love in this country when I came here.

 

My mum was nursing she was very timid and I had to protect her. She is the sort of person if you hit me on one cheek I will turn the other - where I was rebellious. I had to fight and that is why I had to put a barrier up and it made it hard to relate to my past.

 

I know I had a really good life, being an only child, being the youngest, I was spoilt. Anything I wanted I could get it from my uncles or Grandad in Trinidad.

 

I didn’t speak to my relatives back home for years.

 

It was survival because I see people laughing and even people in the church, hypocrites. I am mellow now but unto about 5 or 6 years ago I would call myself a snob because certain people I wouldn’t speak to I just walk past.

 

It was my defence mechanism because I was not welcomed into this country. It was like ‘so you don’t like me, well I hate you too’.

My Experiences of Racism

 

When it comes to education they categorise us again. One incident happened with the kids at school. Both my kids won a scholarship for English literature - they both came first out of the whole of Manchester, Salford. So when my first daughter won it the headmistress said: ‘we were shocked, we didn’t know black people were clever’ and when my second daughter won the scholarship they were the same. And I thought: ‘I am not putting up with it.’ So I reported them to the education board, because they are thinking that black people have low IQ. We should be servants and what not, they just see us and categorise us.

 

The deputy head was suspended and then she left, and they had to apologise to us, the thing that annoyed me was they said: ‘oh we just learning, and we didn’t know’. I said: ‘we are just the same as you, we think education is first and foremost.’

 

We have to work five times harder and it doesn’t matter if you have PhD and they have a GCSE, they will get the job and you wouldn’t and that still going on up to this day. When will it stop?

 

Will it ever end, maybe my great, great grandchildren. Our slavery made a lot of people rich and powerful. I can’t understand the mentality of the people who think we are different, you cut us and we bleed the same. Some people can’t understand it. They have the BLM we know what that means, but now you have the WLM, they are saying white people matter, what did you do to matter?

 

Were you hanged? Were you lynched? Where you sold into slavery? Were you thrown overboard? No - so why does your life matter? If someone could explain that I would be very grateful. I can’t see it, whereas with us…

 

…in Grenada at the bottom of the sea is a sculpture, it's the slave they threw overboard. The artist did it where you can see the chains.

 

Somebody praying.

 

Somebody on the desk writing.

 

Children. Everything.

 

So when people come there is a boat with a glass bottom that you can see.

 

Well the first time I saw it, it made me cry. I couldn’t for whole week, every time I closed my eyes, I can see it.

 

Even if you go online now you can see it. It's right at the bottom there."

© 2020 by Windrush Generations.

Positive Steps at Brunswick Parish Church