Scratchylus respects the Windrush Generation

by Sep 14, 2023News

Scratchylus respects Windrush Generation
This is a momentous year for Britons of West Indian descent. It’s been 75 years since the Empire Windrush sailed into Tilbury Docks in Essex with nearly 500 persons from that region. Most of them were Jamaicans.

West Indians who settled in the United Kingdom between 1948 and 1971 are members of Britain’s Windrush Generation. Deejay Scratchylus’ mother went there from Jamaica in the mid-1960s and lived in Harlesden, West London, where he was born.

He has spent a lot of time in Jamaica in recent years, recording with musicians such as legendary guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith. This year, Scratchylus has been working with producer Sheldon “Calibud” Stewart.

They have two songs on the market: ‘Windrush Generation’ and ‘Every Spliff Needs A Lighter’. The latter is a collaboration with Fred Locks.

Born in 1974, Scratchylus has always been aware of the challenges West Indians and migrants from Africa and Asia faced in the UK. He said ‘Windrush Generation’ “highlights all that injustice” his mother and other islanders faced in a country where racism was embedded.

Blacker Dread, Sizzla and Scratchylus
“We came to England to build up their place and they never showed no gratitude. Some people lived in England for years and worked in the system, and never had a passport or NHS number, and when the Windrush situation come up they deport dem without any real gratitude for di work they put in; a whole heap of disrespect and disregard,” Scratchylus said.

That “Windrush situation” refers to the 2018 fiasco in which many persons of West Indian heritage were either deported, their passports seized or denied access to healthcare. The British Home Office blamed this on members of the Windrush Generation not having proper documentation despite living in the UK for decades.

The matter was embarrassing for the British government who have since tried to appease those wrongfully sent back to their countries of origin.

Growing up in Harlesden, Scratchylus respected the Windrush Generation. The pioneers, who arrived aboard the Empire Windrush ship in June 1948, were invited by the British government to help rebuild an economy devastated by World War II.

Thousands of West Indians flowed into the UK during the 1950s and 1960s, bringing with them their culture of percussive music and spicy cuisine.

Jamaicans had the most impact. During the 1960s, ska and rock steady music found acceptance in the British mainstream through Millie Small, Derrick Morgan, Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker. In the 1980s, Scratchylus listened to a lot of roots-reggae, including songs by Fred Locks, best known for the 1975 repatriation anthem, ‘Black Star Liner’.

They have known each other for the past 12 years. ‘Every Spliff Needs A Lighter’ is their first song together.

In celebration of Black History Month in the UK in October, Scratchylus will do a lecture tour of universities where he will, among other things, discuss the impact of the Windrush Generation.

(Photo contributed by Scratchylus)