‘Law abiding’ is the narrative that works, it holds currency as well as the public imagination. But people who have been labelled as criminal are not considered the ‘right’ kind of citizens. Our siblings are being deported on flights chartered by the government, and managed by security personnel (one need only look at the case of Jimmy Mubenga to see how this can end). It’s become a conveyor belt: an industry capitalising on the transportation of human flesh. The flights are conducted in secret, men and women dragged from registration centres and detained and then deported. There is no room for enquiry or to be able to challenge the decision. Children are left behind.. people have died awaiting justice when ‘mistakes’ are brought to light.
Men and women, many of whom have been here since early childhood, are being told that to be labelled a criminal, makes them instantly not British, not a citizen, not quite human enough to be treated like a white person. They have been charged with predominantly minor offences. This does not take into account that Black and Brown people are more likely to be convicted in the first place and serve longer sentences than white counterparts, or that some of the ‘crimes’ are a direct consequence of migration status. This is a systemic farce to justify deportation! The charter flights are nothing new, the loss of loved ones like this has been going on for some time, but there’s a change in pace.
What are those countries such as Ghana and Jamaica gaining by accepting these flights? Surely if they refused, the British government would have to make alternative arrangements. And it is clear that those governments do not care about the long-term impact the deportations are having, both upon the individuals and the communities of the deportees. Many of those who face deportation are experience high levels of depression and other mental health issues, they are subjected to rejection and in some cases violence, forced into communities they often have no connection to. After living here for so long they are themselves ‘othered’ in a country they are being told is home. As per usual the focus on ‘Black criminality’ as covered by the media buys into the racist notion of Black Crime and the idea that we are inherently more prone to criminal activity.
This is one of the ways oppressors justify their cruelty: it’s still being used today. The criminalisation of Blackness also functions to reduce collective sympathy towards mothers and fathers being separated from their children, and lives torn apart and lost. The statement issued by the Home Office states, Foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes in UK should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them.
Ask any footballer or athlete about British hospitality, as they continues to dodge banana skins, ask any Black and Brown child excluded from school, or harassed by the police. Ask Black women suffering sexist racism in the workplace. Perhaps then, we can talk about British hospitality.
The Racial Justice Network stands in solidarity with those facing deportation, support End deportations’ CALL TO ACTION and we urge this government to end its callous mistreatment of Black and Brown communities.