Anti-Racism Week

This week, Natasha Dahir (Upper Sixth), guest writes on the Headmistress blog about the African and Caribbean and South Asian Societies anti-racism campaign.

The African and Caribbean and South Asian Societies have kickstarted this term with an important message. That is: be anti-racist. Our anti-racism campaign aims to raise awareness of racism in society and educate all of us about how we can prevent and respond to incidents in our school community and beyond. Furthermore, this week has been dedicated to progressing the conversations surrounding racism and prejudice towards marginalised communities. This is an extremely valuable experience for us all, to understand the role we play in providing a safe and all-inclusive space for each other.

We began with a Stephen Lawrence Day assembly on the Thursday 22nd of April. In 1993, eighteen-year-old Stephen Lawrence was attacked and murdered on his way home, solely because he was black. The assembly not only helped raise awareness about this infamous racially motivated attack, but also shed light on how the investigation was mishandled by the police, who were blatantly racist. Lawrence’s murder opened the nation’s eyes to the extent to which systemic racism can affect our lives and the decisions we make. It has encouraged more people to actively work against racism through charities such as Blueprint For All, founded after his death. 

Additionally, the South Asian Society produced a video celebrating the plethora of Asian cultures and their differences. Their descriptions of the parts of their cultures that make them most proud brought a celebratory tone to the week and shows us that anti-racism can also manifest itself in embracing our cultures and identities. 


The work of the late American Civil Rights Activist Claiborne Paul ‘C.P.’ Ellis is really admirable. Originally Ellis was a well-respected KKK member for 12 years. A change in him, which he described as almost being born again, made him decide to spend the next 30 years of his life fighting against racism and for the rights of black people alongside other activists. Despite receiving threats from people he once cared for, he said: “I made up my mind that what I was doin’ was right, and I was gonna do it regardless of what anybody else said”. The Netflix film The Best of Enemies summarises his ten-day journey from Klansman to Activist. I was moved by the volume of emotion this drama film was able to achieve. The message I learnt from this and would like to pass onto you all, is that change doesn’t come without resistance, but if it is for the right thing, then it will definitely be worth it.

The Importance of Digital Fluency

This week, Mr Potter (Director of Digital Strategy) guest writes on the Headmistress blog, and explains how BGS is filling the digital skills gap by being at the forefront of the use of technology in education.  

In a recent article on the BBC website research by World Skills UK highlighted that UK is “heading towards [a] digital skills” shortage as schools were not investing in providing young people with the right skills for a future jobs market; the demand for skills in AI, robotics and cloud are rapidly increasing in the workplace, as identified by Accenture, however young people are not being equipped for these areas as part of their education. 

In a week where a team of Year 8 students represented BGS at the semi finals of the NCSC CyberFirst competition and two Year 11 are taking part in the Lockheed Martin CyberQuest competition, I read the article with interest, as it seems we are clearly bucking this trend!  

As a School, we have always been at the forefront of the use of technology in education; we are looking ahead to anticipate which skills our students will need as they move into an uncertain world. We were very early adopters of iPads in education and the digital literacy that our students display was recognised by last year’s ISI inspection report as ‘outstanding’ as a result of their embedded and flexible use of iPad across their learning. However, technology does not stand still and we must continue to look to the future and anticipate the next technological breakthrough which will add real value to our students.   

The extensive use of iPads across learning helps us embed technology skills discreetly and continually throughout their education ensuring that our digital fluency is keeping pace with the changing in technological advancements and that our students stay ahead of the curve, and that these skills become part of their everyday learning. Students in the Junior School use Sphero robots to see the physical results of their coding. They code elements of a Shakespearen play, enabling characters to move around the stage and recite lines using code. As they transition through to Senior School in Year 7 they learn how to apply these skills into text based programming to solve more challenging problems as well as looking at networking, computer hardware and cybersecurity. 

To further our students’ interest and understanding of robotics, we have recently invested in a humanoid robot capable of machine learning. A group of Year 11 students will be able to use the robot to investigate social robotics – how humans interact with robots with human-like characteristics. Our students are adept in collaborating  with the use of cloud technology through Google Drive being second nature to them, to give them flexibility and ownership over their work. Students in Years 10 and 11 have access to Seneca Learning which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help tailor their experience in using the platform. It works effectively to highlight areas within a task that a student is finding more challenging and present these back to them in different ways to help them work on their understanding. We also operate a ‘BGS Hackers’ Google Classroom which is a mine of information about future careers in tech, challenges and competitions (access code rflztd2 – shhhh don’t tell anyone!).

Outside of the classroom, BGS is involved in many technology competitions and challenges, run by GCHQ, Lockheed Martin and Cranfield University. These give our students an insight into what it is like to work in a major technology company and the skills that are needed to succeed. We have also hosted lunchbox lectures with industry professionals in cybersecurity and robotics, providing role models and insights into the amazing jobs that many of our Alumnae are in. This year, we have also started mentoring programs in industry with some of our students lucky enough to be mentored by staff from Cardiff Metropolitan University Robotics lab and IBM. We recognise that these links with industry are hugely important as we look to be at the forefront of giving our students the technology skills they need to thrive and succeed in whatever they decide to do.

We believe that this dual approach of teaching skills and ensuring we are building links to wider tech communities, employers and universities will give our students the confidence to tackle any opportunity when they step out into the workforce as the next generation of  innovators and problem solvers. 

Speaking Out

At BGS, one of our key values is being bold, as defined in the Cambridge dictionary as “not frightened of danger”. We believe this is an essential characteristic for our students in this uncertain world. We are able to help them foster this courageousness in a safe and secure environment. Our students know their views are valued and we encourage them to question the world around them and stand up for what they believe in. 

However, we are fully cognisant that unfortunately for our young people they may at times have to confront danger. It is up to us as educators, in conjunction with parents, to not only help protect them, but also instil in them guiding principles around how we should behave towards one another. Growing up is a learning curve and no matter how well we guide them, young people will inevitably have errors of judgment. It is important that we call out when a young person falls below these standards whilst also supporting them in moving forward positively from their mistakes.

I suspect many of us have read with horror the news about the killing of Sarah Everard and what it exemplifies about the treatment of women in our society. Concurrently, alarming stories about peer-on-peer abuse and misogyny in schools has been highlighted by many students across the UK and Australia. As a school that encourages young women to have a strong voice, we are impressed to see so many speak out about the issues that are affecting their daily lives; we know this takes great courage. But these young people must also seek help and support. We need to ensure our students not only have the strategies to protect themselves, but that they have the confidence to speak out to a trusted adult, either at home or at School, if any of these issues are affecting them. 

Without those brave enough to step forward the issues will remain. I fervently hope that the world our students go out into will be fairer, kinder and safer. I want to see our alumnae continue to achieve successes in their chosen professional lives, free from gender stereotypes and able to take on any challenges that come their way. I want them to always feel safe and secure in their day-to-day lives; this should be a right, not a privilege. 

Just over 100 years ago, Nancy Astor, the first female MP, said in her maiden speech: “I do not want you to look on your lady member as a fanatic or a lunatic. I am simply trying to speak for hundreds of women and children throughout the country who cannot speak for themselves.” Her words still resonate today and are echoed by the number of female MPs who have spoken recently about the current issues facing women. Jess Phillips said, last week, before reading out the names of the 120 women who have been murdered by men in the past 12 months; “In this place, we count what we care about. We count the vaccines…We love to count data of our own popularity….However, we don’t currently count dead women…Dead women is a thing we’ve all just accepted as part of our daily lives. Dead women is just one of those things.” Powerful words indeed.

I urge our students to continue being bold: to speak out if they see injustice; to come forward when they need support; to strive to take on leadership roles in all areas of society so they can make a difference; and most importantly, to always support one another as we are, without doubt, stronger together.

Holocaust Memorial Day

This week the School community has been commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day with an informative assembly by Mrs Cruse (Head of Years 7 and 8) and a creative activity based around the Jewish custom of leaving pebbles on gravestones. The most striking part of the assembly for me was an extract from a letter written by Holocaust survivor, Haim Ginott, who said:

“Dear Teacher, I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness. Gas chambers built by learned engineers, children poisoned by educated physicians… So, I am suspicious of education. My request is: help your students become human. Your efforts must never produce monsters, skilled psychopaths… Reading, writing and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more humane.”

And what a vital message this is for educators not only here at BGS, but around the world. At a time when schools are daily in the newspapers, it is important to remember that education is not just about passing examinations, though naturally that is a part of what we do. We teachers are in such a privileged position getting to work with young people, and particularly such wonderful students as your daughters. The students at BGS are impassioned, inquisitive and compassionate. Through my conversations with them and reading about all their achievements, they are clearly determined to make a difference to the world around them. They want to fight injustice, raise funds and awareness of charities that are important to them, protect the environment and go off into the world as adults committed to being agents of positive change. Naturally, they gain much of this from you, their parents, but I am confident that this is confirmed through our teaching and co-curricular activities, and the ethos that permeates BGS. 

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme is “Be the Light in the Darkness” and I can’t think of a more apt statement for our times. The world has felt like a very dark place over this past year with COVID, multiple lockdowns, continued issues around racial discrimination and political unrest, but our students do provide us with bright spots amongst all this uncertainty and challenges. Their humour, determination, resilience and care for one another are the epitome of hope for the future. Through community events, such as this one, Black History Month and Rainbow Laces Day, we have demonstrated our commitment as a School to not only ensuring we are an inclusive environment for all, but also to standing up to discrimination and bias. 

I have had the privilege of hearing many Holocaust and other genocide survivors talk over the years and the horrors they describe cannot be readily imagined by those of us who have been fortunate enough not to live through it. The magnitude of what they suffered is overwhelming and it is distressing to hear, but it must be heard if we are ever to ensure that humans don’t allow these types of atrocities to occur again. This is why we take our responsibility as teachers so seriously; we have the opportunity to help children make sense of the darkness in the world, but more importantly we can help guide them towards the light: to be the defenders against discrimination; to be brave enough to make the right choices;  to be passionate enough to make a difference; and to be caring enough to show empathy and understanding to others.  

As always I shall leave you with a quote, this time from Elie Wisel, a Holocaust survivor, and I hope that it inspires all our students to stand up for what they truly believe in:

“ I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” 

Reni Eddo-Lodge Lifts The Curtain On A Country In Denial

Introduction

By Meranie Kairu (Lead Ambassador of the African and Carribean Society)

Last summer, during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book, Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race graced many bookshelves across the UK. This included the bookshelves of a staff member and student who were inspired to share the book’s vital message with the rest of the BGS community.

Mrs Harrold (Head of Psychology) shared her deeply personal and thought-provoking perspective on the book in The Muse (Legend in their Lifetime) last summer. It is clear that for both Mrs Harrold and Mia Dowie (Lower Sixth), Eddo-Lodge has had a life-changing impact. In this review, Mia Dowie – a member of the African and Caribbean Society (ACS) – takes us through an honest and insightful account of how this book transformed her worldview. It moved her to advocate for change against the denial and ignorance of racism in the UK. 

By Mia Dowie (Lower Sixth)

I came across the book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, a London journalist, during the time of the Black Lives Matter Protests in May. These protests led to my eye-opening research of race, into places where I, as a white student, never realised there was an issue. I was searching for something that went beyond the mainstream discourse that focused on America and the civil rights movement. I found Eddo-Lodge’s book during my research on racism in the UK and realised there were issues all over our nation. Among the sea of complex titles, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race stands out. Its extreme title attracts lots of attention: some positive, some curious and some defensive. 

The text moves away from the general consensus that seems to have blanketed our society. The idea that racism is not an urgent issue in the UK, in comparison to other places, like America. The author explores the timeline of racism in Britain throughout history. Eddo-Lodge explores ideas of structural racism and she shines a light on a few of the harsh realities that the ‘nation in denial’ must face. She explains all the privileges a white child may have in comparison to a child of colour whose life will be ‘warped at every stage’, despite their level of skill. A reader may come out of it viewing society in a whole new light. 

Eddo-Lodge reinforces her idea about how Britain’s relationship with race is not a neat narrative with a feel-good resolution. She expresses what many people try to deny, that a post-racial world is not in sight, yet she is not without hope. Eddo-Lodge emphasises that to fight racism there is a large change that must occur and it will be an uphill battle which requires people to feel uncomfortable. To say the world is in a post-racial society creates an excuse to bury the discussion of racism, which then halts change. It is a vital realisation that is needed in order for us to be committed to fighting against racism.  

After reading this book I realised it was not one I wished to be left on the bookshelf collecting dust. This book is the wake-up call that people need. All that I have learnt this year about racism and the challenges my peers face has motivated me to make a change in myself. As a result, I decided to join the African and Caribbean Society (ACS). 

The ACS is committed to change. We aim to make BGS a place where students of African and Caribbean descent can express themselves, feel heard and celebrate their culture. However, our work extends beyond that to reach a point where students of all cultural backgrounds feel safe and cared for. A key part of what we do involves raising awareness of racism. Students and teachers must be able to recognise and understand racism in order to speak up for others. If pupils or staff are looking for a better way to understand and help, this book is a great first step. It is clear that if there are people who wish to learn more about racism and how to fight it then there is hope and a pathway to change.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas

A Christmas message to all BGS students.

“It is such a shame that we have not all been able to come together in the usual way this year, but I hope the recorded Carol Service and fun events of the last few day has provided you with some much needed Christmas spirit. 

And our holidays may look at little different too – perhaps you usually go to a pantomime as a family, or you may attend midnight mass to celebrate Christmas or gather with your family to celebrate Hanukkah, or perhaps these holidays are simply an opportunity to catch up with friends and family from around the country or further afield. You might usually throw a big party on New Year’s Eve or go to see a firework display. Although things will not be the same, I believe we can still all look forward to these holidays.

As we have seen over the past year, we humans are a resilient bunch and we have still found ways to make key events special: families have still come together either in person -socially distanced of course –  or virtually to celebrate things such as Chinese New Year, Eid, Diwali, Easter, Halloween, weddings, births and birthdays. These events might have been smaller, but they still allow us to connect with each other and remember what is important to us. 

So over these holidays, whatever your beliefs, use this time to cherish your family and friends, and to think to the future with hope. We might not be watching fireworks on New Year’s Eve or attending parties, but we can still reflect on the year that has just passed and what a momentous time in history we have all just lived through. Although it is not completely over yet, with the news of the various vaccines on offer, we can look forward more positively, congratulate ourselves for getting through 2020 and remind ourselves of all the wonderful opportunities to come in the future.

I want to wish you, your families and all of the staff a wonderful break over the Christmas holidays. I also want to thank you for making my first term at BGS so memorable, you have welcomed me into the BGS community with open arms and despite all the challenges we have faced, I feel incredibly fortunate and proud to be your Headmistress.

I hope you all stay happy and healthy. I look forward to celebrating the start of a new year, and a new era, with you all in January.” 

IB – Focusing on Language Acquisition

I am a big fan of language acquisition and believe it is central to every student’s education. I am pleased we embrace languages at BGS and I will always encourage our students to keep studying a language, or two, throughout their time at school.

I also believe that part of the fun of learning a language is starting something new, the thrill of starting with the basics and putting the words together to make sentences for the first time is always exciting. I am therefore delighted that we will be introducing an additional language option in the Sixth Form for IB Diploma students from September 2021, where students who have not studied it before will be able to take up a course in Italian. Who would not want to be able to sit on the terrace of a bar in Rome and order a meal with a perfect Italian accent, or ask for directions to The Colosseum without relying on a google translate?

Having worked in Asia for five years, the vast majority of the students I taught there were fluent in at least two languages. Many had three or four languages under their belt; they were always open to learning a new language to communicate with their new friends from other countries. In the Languages Department, they used to have a poster which stated:  “monolingualism is the new 21st century illiteracy” and I couldn’t agree more. In our interconnected, globalised world, it is imperative that we are able to communicate with one another. This is one of the elements of the IB Diploma Programme which I most love, the focus on language acquisition as a link to understanding and connecting cultures.

I studied French at A Level, and was able to study in France for a year at university, work in Brussels as a lawyer and then I had an excellent grounding for learning Spanish, whilst traveling around South America when I took a career break before moving into teaching. Learning languages has opened so many doors for me; it has changed my views on the world and created a network of friends around the world. It has given me the confidence to travel, to work abroad, to walk into a room and not be afraid of starting a conversation. Learning languages has been an important part of developing my self-confidence.

There is plenty of research that also highlights how language acquisition encourages brain development, which has extensive cross-disciplinary advantages. Languages are puzzles, the logic of learning and putting sounds and words together can be applied to other subjects, Maths, Music and Sciences. These key building blocks are fundamental to a holistic education and develop enquiring, problem-solving mindsets.

I hope our students seize this opportunity to experience a new language and through it appreciate the importance of understanding others’ customs and cultures.  As the American Law Professor and author, Amy Chua, said: “Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery”. So I encourage all our students to take these words as inspiration, to be bold, to step out of their comfort zones and to open themselves up to a world of new possibilities.

Black History Month: A Reflection

Written by Meranie Kairu (Lower Sixth) and Aisha Njomo (Upper Sixth).

Reflecting on Black History Month, Mrs Gibson (Headmistress) has invited the Lead Ambassadors of the African and Caribbean Society to guest write her blog.

As our Black History Month campaign comes to an end, we take a moment to reflect on the work we have done. Our goal was to celebrate the achievements of the Black British, Black African and Caribbean population and educate students on their heritage and history. The foremost aim of this campaign, however, was to spark conversations in our school community that would encourage students, and staff, to think about the diverse nation in which we live with a greater understanding of its people. 

Our whole school assembly highlighted the importance of Black History Month to Black Britons and others in the UK. For Black Britons, knowing your history deepens your understanding of who you are and helps you to acknowledge the power in your identity. Power in our identity provides us with a strong sense of pride and belonging. This is a powerful tool that can equip our minds against the negative stereotypes imposed on us both consciously and unconsciously by society. For our communities, we are only strengthened by appreciating the achievement of Black British people and recognising the influence they have had on British society.

Our House competition gave students and staff the chance to put a spotlight on the most influential Black woman to them and we received lots of excellent entries that will be displayed around the school. Through a range of form time activities, students have explored art in the Nairobi Gallery, the presence of Africans in Roman Britain and recollected familiar Black British Actors. Decorative displays have also showcased the fabrics and flags of African and Caribbean countries and detailed their achievements. As well as this, a series of form time debates engaged students in thoughtful discussions on topics such as cultural appropriation and hair discrimination in schools.

This Black History Month campaign marks the beginning of a cultural shift in the BGS Community. By engaging students and staff in necessary, thought-provoking conversations on the erasure of history, race relations in the UK and the single-story many have of Africa and the Caribbean, we have taken our first dive into previously uncharted waters.

However, the end of Black History Month does not signify the end of these conversations. As lead ambassadors of the African and Caribbean Society, our mission is to keep these conversations ignited. We will not leave it to October to celebrate the achievements of Black Britons that have shaped our society into what we see today. We will continue to keep these ideas and topics fresh in the minds of our community. It is only once students become comfortable with the uncomfortable, that they find the confidence to go out into the world and take action. We are hopeful for the future of BGS and believe that our work will contribute to the building of a more inclusive environment for all.

Sixth Form Options…Follow Your Passions

We have arrived at the time of year where Year 11 start thinking about making some big decisions about their future; this should be seen as an exciting opportunity to reflect on their current post school aspirations. I have used the word ‘current’ in relation to what they want to do in the future. No doubt for a lot of the girls, there will be many evolutions of their plans over time and in some cases there may even be abrupt changes of direction. And that is fine! Research shows that in the next generation “individuals are likely to have three or more different occupations and/or careers during their lifetimes” (Wilson, D.N: The Education and Training of Knowledge Workers) and that around 65% of primary school aged children will end up in jobs that do not yet exist. So focusing on relevant skills and attributes is far more important than agonising over subject choices.

For instance, if I reflect on my own career path, the skills and attributes I gained as a lawyer have often stood me in good stead as an educational senior leader. My years studying the law were not wasted even though I didn’t stay in the profession; at the very least they opened the door for me to teach Law at A Level, hopefully inspiring another generation of young lawyers and frankly there is nothing more satisfying than that!

This leads me to my best (and simplest) piece of advice for choosing Sixth Form courses: follow your heart and focus on the subjects for which you have a passion or interest, because through those passions you find the drive and determination to develop the attributes you will need to unlock opportunities and to find the right career path.

Sixth Form should be such an exciting time, but it won’t be if students don’t emotionally connect with their subjects. Sixth Formers have to be independent in whatever courses they take, they must have a desire to learn more about their subjects and be willing to read around and to find links between different areas of study. It is not possible to be successful by simply turning up to lessons and reading one textbook, as the novelist E.M. Forster, said: “One person with passion is better than 40 people merely interested”. If you can’t muster up passion for chosen subjects, so that you cannot vehemently argue your point during class discussions, then it is not the right course for you. There should be real academic joy in being a Sixth Former, being able to submerge yourself in subjects you love and to start to consider yourself an expert in your chosen fields.

At BGS, girls are lucky enough to have two pathways open to them: A-Levels and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB). We always recommend all students consider both pathways before making their final decisions. There are merits to both of them and each student must decide which is best for them. With A-Levels, students have the opportunity to narrow down their focus to three subjects, which they will cover in depth. For those students who are already very sure about what they want to do in the future, this is a good route, providing expertise and depth of knowledge in specific subjects for students with very clear direction. 

Nevertheless, many argue that only studying three subjects at this age is too limiting. In fact the new leader of the Russell Group Universities, Dame Nancy Rothwell states “I worry that in the UK we specialise very early for young people and I think we miss out”. She supports the idea of restructuring A Levels so they are a bit lighter and students could take a broader range of subjects giving a more balanced education and in her view be better prepared for university. This is where the IB Diploma comes into its own, allowing students to keep that breadth for longer, to cement key skills, whilst still allowing students to immerse themselves more deeply in their passions in the form of their Higher Levels. With the IB’s international mindedness and focus on education for a better world, it really does help equip our students for their exciting careers (plural) to come, as they balance interdisciplinary skills and learn to view the world through many different experiences. I am in no doubt it prepares them extremely well for being global citizens and moving into the wider world. Over the next few weeks, girls and parents will receive lots of information about how to make the best choice for the future. We are here to support each girl through this process and to ensure that it is an enjoyable one. With this in mind, I shall leave you with a quote to have in the forefront of your mind when making these decisions from the American Pastor, Bishop TD Jakes “If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.”

The Windrush Generation: Revolutionising British Music

By Nina Leech and Etienne Maughan (Year 11)

Continuing our focus on Black History Month, Mrs Gibson (Headmistress) has invited members of the African and Caribbean Society to guest write her blog, as they explore the role of Caribbean influences in British Music.

In the 1930s, the ship ‘HMT Empire Windrush’ was built and designed for the German Navy. However, it was built purely for war so its future purpose was undetermined. In 1945, after World War II had ended and Germany was defeated, its purpose was now very different: this ship would be used to rebuild Britain’s damaged industry. In 1948, what we now know as the ‘Windrush Generation’ travelled to Britain and would come to have a profound and positive impact on British culture as we know it today.

Caribbean communities arrived with a diverse music spectrum ranging from Latin American to Asian and African influences, which had a large impact on the British music scene. These styles fused with British music, which consisted of primarily swing and dance bands at the time, creating a unique blend, which eventually led to genres such as Drum and Bass, Garage and Grime. In the 50s, few nightclubs were open to black people, so small clubs in Soho and Brixton began to adopt genres such as Ska – a predecessor to Reggae. The legacy of this led to a second-generation wave in Coventry with bands like The Specials, pioneering multicultural Post-Punk Fusion. Birmingham was also central to politically-led, British Reggae, with artists writing about hardships faced by young black people, led by bands like Steel Pulse. The evolution of Soca music in the 1980s created the blueprint for many music styles that dominate the UK charts today. Two of these music styles, Hip Hop and Grime, have generated success for many black artists such as Stormzy and Dizzee Rascal. Popular British bands such as The Police, Culture Club and The Stranglers all used riffs inspired by Reggae. The impact that the Windrush Generation had on helping to construct Britain’s varied history will continue to shape and influence the music of the future.

The Caribbean communities diversified British culture, shaping and creating a new British society with new music, culture and charm. The Windrush Generation was not only key in pioneering change in a predominantly white country, but also helped in creating a sense of belonging within the young population of black teenagers. The music that many produced allowed the younger generation of the African and Caribbean communities to relate to the struggles of racism and hostility towards them, and provided a sanctuary and escape for them. Unable to prove their legal right to remain in the ‘mother country’, as they had arrived before it was a legal requirement, many were afraid of what was to come for them in Britain, so the music created by black artists showed power within the black community.

Unfortunately, an escape was hard to find, as the racism that the Windrush Generation faced was extensive. Even now, more than 50 years after the first ship arrived, those who are part of or descended from the Windrush Generation are told they do not belong; many have been detained and are facing deportation. Regardless of our skin colour, we must advocate for all black lives. The work we do during Black History Month to celebrate and uplift black people should not stop here, but continue each day of the year.