Sunday, September 25, 2022
Home POLITICS Opinion | I don't cry queen

Opinion | I don’t cry queen

Queen Elizabeth II may have been on the throne to witness the dismantling of the empire. But she was also monarch for the brutal subjugation of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in the 1950s, which Britain recently paid almost £20 million in compensation to the victims. And she was queen when the government supported the Nigerians suppression of Biafra separatists who starved a million children to death in the late 1960s. The power of the nation and the symbolic strength of the monarch have been inseparable from empire.

My paternal grandmother was born in colonial Jamaica in 1914 and raised on the fairy tales of the mother country and the nobility of British royalty. She emigrated to Britain in search of better opportunities in the mid-1950s as part of the so-called Windrush generation, who helped rebuild the nation after World War II. A photo of the Queen occupied a privileged place in her living room and, if she were alive today, she would have wholeheartedly joined in the collective pain. But my father grew up in the 1960s, facing the cold realities of British racism and could never feel sympathy for the nation or its figurehead. When he was 13 years old, he followed my grandmother to the UK. She was not the warmest of welcomes. She had to share a small semi-detached house with four other families, each of whom occupied one of the rooms. This type of crowding was vulgar as blacks were forced to live in the center of cities and were denied decent housing. He witnessed and experienced so much police brutality and harassment that he eventually became a public defender to provide some legal protection for people caught up in the system. british black power movement, protesting and organizing Black-led education, housing and counseling initiatives to help Black communities survive our harsh realities.

For my parents, the Queen came to symbolize the country’s racist ills. Her generation was hounded in the streets by fascists who would shout racial slurs and inflict violent attacks if they caught up with them. It is no accident that these fascists they bathed in the British flag and pledged unswerving loyalty to the Queen. To this day, if a pub waves a British flag outside, I won’t go in. Suffice to say, I can’t even imagine my father, who moved to Jamaica when he retired, having a picture of the Queen, except for parody’s sake.

Even as a child, I was instinctively uncomfortable when we were forced to sing the national anthem “God Save the Queen” at school; I refuse to stop when I listen to it now. The way the royal family treated Prince Harry and Meghan Markle only compounded those feelings. The only time Markle resonated with many black Britons was when he spoke of the pain that racism of being in the family caused. No one but Oprah was surprised to learn that there were concerns in the family about how dark her baby would be. It was recently revealed that at least until the late 1960s, Buckingham Palace banned black and brown people from to be employed there as clerks. It is unclear how long the ban remained in place because the Queen remained exempt from racial and gender equality legislation throughout her life.

That is why it should come as no surprise that the Queen was not a figure around whom the entire nation rallied. I live in an area of ​​Birmingham, England’s second largest city, that was marked by white flight once black and brown people started moving in, much like the US during the platinum jubilee, to celebrate the seventy years of his reign, my neighborhood was an oasis, completely detached from the festivals and the endless flags that my friends from the whiter neighborhoods had to put up with. I distinctly remember seeing more Palestinian solidarity flags than British ones on display during the Queen’s reign celebrations.

Recently, we held the so-called Commonwealth Games, which is essentially an underground Olympics. But Commonwealth is simply a rebranding; the sporting event was originally called the British Empire Games. It is a collection of former colonies headed by the royal family whose main goal seems to be to boost Britain’s self-esteem after the end of the empire. Until recently the games were presided over by the Queen, decked out in her jewels stolen from various colonies, head of an (almost) exclusively white family, who parades with the spoils of colonialism and rules over a vast empire (or what remains of it). Commonwealth). The royal family remains so popular because it is one of the remnants left over from when Britain was ‘great’, a living piece of colonial nostalgia for the nation to indulge in.

The Queen was appreciated as a monarch because she didn’t rock the boat, and there have already been fears about Charles. meddle too much in politics asking. The only practical difference his death will make to many of our lives is that the image of money and stamps will change. The abolition of the monarchy is long overdue. Now could be an opportunity because the Queen was very popular, and the Commonwealth countries are definitely not all interested in Charles. And now, as Caribbean nations renew their demand that Britain pay reparations for slavery, it looks like the monarch will be removed as head of state more quickly in former colonies. Hopefully that will have a ripple effect in Britain.

So the majority of the nation is mourning the symbol, not the woman, and that is precisely why many of us will spend the next few weeks in a state of Du Bois double consciousness, feeling once again alienated from Britain. because of our experiences of being black.

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