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Meet the collective challenging the Windrush narrative

DISCUSSION AND DEBATE: The talks were set up by Black Conscious Coventry members Nathaniel and Jerome Prescod, Cherelle Harding and Jerome Lammy

A COLLECTIVE OF young professionals in Coventry is hosting events to correct the negative narrative around the Windrush Generation, in a bid to secure the future of an iconic community centre.

The quartet which became Black Conscious Coventry (BCC) – Cherelle Harding, Jerome Lammy, and brothers Nathaniel and Jerome Prescod – saw the potential of organising conferences and screenings to support the West Indian Centre in Spon Street, which looked set to close down.

“The centre is a hub within the community, which so many people went to when they were growing up,” Jerome Prescod, 32, told The Voice.

“It’s in the city centre where many bars and facilities are, so is in a key location. The time had come to do something. The black community had become dispersed: Nathaniel was about to have a child and Jerome (Lammy) already had three.

“Black people who often grew up sharing rooms have become the middle class, but we are seeing life expectancy falling, while economic and political policies are being imposed that will stop our young people from getting on in life.”

BCC drew close to 100 people to its debut event, which screened the black historical documentary series Hidden Colors. It was followed by a conference called Who You Calling N****r? – which discussed the use of the expletive. BCC’s provocative approach began to gain traction.

The BCC quartet have already taken part in a number of events

“Our online following grew and the elders from the centre were giving us a lot of respect,” added Prescod, who works in insurance.
“We have a diversity of opinions within BCC – we don’t all feel the same way on issues, so we can feel the people’s pulses.”


More events were to follow, including Is the Black Woman God?, and all but the last three were hosted at the West Indian Centre.

Three years on, BCC is coming off the success of its latest effort, Black & Brexit, which analysed how the implications of the UK Government’s departure from the European Union for the black community, in the esteemed company of Professor Gus John.

Themes included the younger attendees’ feeling an attachment to Europe and belief that it was ridiculous to leave the EU, and the presence of the far-right in influencing thought.

“Some people thought black people don’t have a stake in Brexit, so discussing this was a positive thing to be done,” added Prescod.
“It was nice to hear the professor speak – he has such a wealth of knowledge. In hindsight, perhaps people were suffering from Brexit fatigue.”

Aiming to better engage with the under-30s, BCC is recognising the role of discussion and debate as a safety measure against future turbulence.

“It is important that we don’t focus on the negatives,” concluded Prescod. “Many of us are doing positive things, there has never been a better time to ‘do black’. There will always be challenges, but we must keep doing it anyway.

“If we are not careful, there could be another Windrush- type scandal in 40 years – ‘they’ may come for us, so we need to overstand what’s going on so we don’t become victims.”

Follow BCC on Twitter – @blkconsciouscov

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