Camden New Journal – 19 April, 2018
Open letter to Sir Keir Starmer QC MP, Labour, Holborn & St Pancras
I am writing to you as a resident of Camden of over 25 years. I am extremely concerned about some of the social and cultural measures that disproportionately affect those with African, and especially, Caribbean heritage.
I know that there were times, less hostile and economically divided, where people from English backgrounds and children whose parents were Commonwealth citizens, rubbed together well enough.
Time, however, has not seen the Caribbean communities easy-going ability to interact and contribute to a unified multicultural environment, beneficial to us.
The disproportionate number of black men, in particular, accessing mental health institutions, incarcerated, underemployed or roaming the streets of Camden, aimlessly, is a borough-wide crisis that has never really been addressed adequately.
The knife crime scenario is an alarming combination of cultural ills, yes, but also an undeniable result of deinvestment in community, and low aspirations borne of low self-esteem.
The scale of the problems within this demographic may seem insurmountable. Yet we are a resilient people. History has shown this to be the case.
However, I would like to ask you – against the backdrop of sweeping immigration diktats that seek to expel those with little or no net worth – what Camden’s response is?
Black History Month is one example of an initiative hard won, that has been conveniently dropped in the borough. This was a tool for education and an opportunity for black and white people to see images and hear historical stories that are in contrast to the normal media fare.
I have written and spoken to the contact I was finally referred to in order to talk about the matter – and I have yet to gain a coherent response from her or anyone else at Camden.
All of these recent episodes regarding ethnicity and race in the borough are really causing a trauma for people from my community and probably fatigue from those who are at the other end of the social spectrum. This causes further community alienation, distrust envy and retaliation.
This is not a cocktail that we want to promote, in a borough that has a proud history of black luminaries: Mary Seacole, Paul Robeson, Bob Marley to name a few, and a movement that was to spur independence across the African continent.
I would like to meet in person and see if my ideas as a cultural producer and community activist can contribute to creating an environment where the Camden motto “Not for the few, but for the many” can be demonstrated in reality.
Director, Arc of Triumph CIC
Caribbean Community in Camden