The number 30 red double decker bus took me to Hackney. I alighted at Dalston Junction. Staring at me is the imposing, glassy, multi-storied building housing the CLR James library. At the adult section were seas of black heads buried in activities. There were heads in woolly hats. Some readers with a radical streak hooded up. Some were busy with the computers. They touched the keyboards gently not to offend the next reader. The library was warm, big and well lit. Welcome to Hackney. This is a London borough famous for its black African and West Indian residents. It has many famous land marks. Dirty streets. Sink estates. Mugging and violent robberies. Low level skill. High unemployment rate. High dependency on alcohol and drug. On Friday nights its roads are populated with working girls who could give a quick blow job in many of Hackney run down alleys for as little as £10.00 a session. Don’t ask me how I know. Curiosity may kill your cat.
Poverty in Hackney is reflecting badly on its black population. Black hybrid coming out of Hackney is a cause for concern. Faces look sad, defeated and hopeless. Laughter is weak. Grin is tired. Our characteristic black cheer has disappeared under the mountain of economic and social anomie blighting Britain. This once giant mill, this once proud isle of gold called United Kingdom is turning black strength, talents, creativity and pride into shame. Back to the library. Here, you could see the cruelty of Britain on its black subjects. Insane men and women with bizarre behaviour are here to enjoy the warmth of the library. They appear to be normal until they start letting off howling, disturbing noises. They are victims of drug, alcohol, unemployment, broken homes and jaded dreams. They are Africans. They are West Indians. There are mixed race. They have their individual peculiar behaviour. The African chap who is mentally challenged comes into the library with bags and bags of junk every day. The pockets of his bulging, unwashed jacket are stuffed with paper junks and different kinds of writing pens. His bushy hair is unkempt and the man needs an urgent wash.
The behaviour of the mixed race guy is strange and frightening. You will instantly know that he is mentally challenged with the millions of pieces of papers he meticulously displays on the reading table. That is the beginning. After a while, something goes haywire inside him and them wham, readers are in trouble. He will start to scratch his head with his two hands furiously. Next, he will stand up and begin to bang on the floor with his shoes. The climax is like watching a black Pavarotti on stage. With his mouth open, he will face the ceiling and let out a howling, frightening noise that shakes the library building. He enjoys making this deafening noise. These are the signature tunes of his presence. He does not understand the meaning of silence when in a library. On exit and for maximum effect, he will let out the last howl at the foot of the stairs as he walks away into the womb of a cruel world. The effect is shattering. Everything comes to a shuddering end. There are now frown faces and unspoken mind debate of why such a misfit is allowed into a library. Many black men are being sectioned under the mental Act. Many are victims of their own wild excesses. The so called Cool Britannia is now hotter than hell for many. The British Dream remains true to type: a dream. We have a higher disproportionate number of blacks in Hackney but the businesses and shops are run by mostly Turkish and Asians. The banks will not help. Our credit rating is skewed by racial profiling which depicts blacks as high risk borrowers. Probably we are disproportionally represented in the absconding debtor index. The notoriety of Hackney as a dead end borough of joblessness, lack and misfits has made its redemption impossible.
To many black people, life is like living in a luckless universe. Old veterans who came with the “Windrush” euphoria of the 50s are sorry sight on the high streets. Many are damaged with arthritis. Many walk sideways because of hip replacements. The half century of enduring the western cold is taking its toll. Our children are becoming unresponsive to our plight. Many have forgotten their parents and left them to their downward fate. The natural compassion toward the elderly that define our culture is cutting no ice with our Generation X children. Our children are being lost to western culture and its addiction to individualism, freedom from attachment and rejection of parental responsibilities.
When I see black fathers and mothers in their 70s on the streets, I tend to wonder if there is regret in the decision to come to Britain. Many have not fulfilled their destinies. Many of them are frustrated or going through frustration in their chosen profession. The closely guided secret of British glass ceiling has kept many black people imprisoned as officers rather than managers for all their professional life. Career frustration and racism at work, at play and on their streets are sure harbingers of depression which is killing us daily.
We are becoming the only race losing out in all things that make people happy – marriage, home, job, responsible kids, social life, money in the bank and hope for the future. Man and woman in marriage is becoming unfashionable. Single parentage is the buzz. Runaway dads are hiding next to you. The Polish – well, they are Europeans – have saturated the job market. And cheaply! As they swell Britain, black fortune recedes further and further. Local employers who are mostly white will naturally prefer a Polish who has pigment advantage to another jobless British black. Like attracts like you might say. Our success in Britain is the least when compared to other immigrants. We have less professionals in the proper professions of law, dentistry, pharmacy, medicine, science, journalism, high art, architecture, high finance and estate management. Shying from the big fight of competition and imagined restriction of racism and possibly laziness, our men would rather be pastors. Our women would rather be care workers. Our men would rather invest their time and poor savings in theology schools rather than change their destinies with grilling and grisly investment in a career. The fear of glass ceiling, imagined racism in the society and opaque vision have all combined to put us in the bottom of the scale in Britain. Secret tears are being shed for the state of black British. Some say it is our fault. Some say it is the fault of the white man. I am still investigating that divided opinion….