Titled “Sorry We Don’t Help Darkies,” the short film centers on a Caribbean family living in London’s Notting Hill during the tension and violence that led to the 1958 race riots. The family comes to a brutal realization that life in post war Britain is far from the warm welcome they thought they’d experience, as they had been told, in order to get them aboard the Empire Windrush boat to help England.
In brief, the Empire Windrush’s voyage from the Caribbean to the so-called “Mother Country” took place in 1948. Very few of the migrants intended to stay in Britain for more than a few years. If it hadn’t been for the Second World War, the Windrush and its migrant passengers might not have made the voyage at all. During the war, thousands of Caribbean men and women had been recruited to serve in the British armed forces. After the war, as Britain was starting to recover from the ravages of WWII, housing was a huge problem and stayed that way for the next two decades. Caribbeans first clashed with the natives over the issue of accommodation. But alongside the conflicts and the discrimination, as they were excluded from much of the social and economic life around them, they began to adjust the institutions they brought with them. And eventually, they began to also participate in institutions to which they did have access: trade unions, local councils, professional and staff associations.
June 22nd 1948, the day that the Windrush dropped off its passengers in Essex, England, has become an important date in the history of modern Britain. Since then, Caribbean migrants have become a vital part of British society and, in the process, transformed important aspects of British life.
Travis Watson is the writer, director and editor of “Sorry We Don’t Help Darkies.”
Watch the 10-minute short below; and after it, watch a news report on that June 22, 1948 Empire Windrush docking: