Edmonton Black Community Have Been Marginalised

Dear Joanne,

Thank you for replying and explaining the GLA’s commitment in improving the lives of our young people living in Edmonton.

However, I am extremely concerned that you did not address important points that I raised in my previous communications with the GLA and the leader of Enfield Council.

Although the children, like myself, of the Windrush generation have lived in Enfield for the past five decades, we feel marginalised by the leader at Enfield Council and also by the newly elected councillors in Edmonton. We are still coming to terms with the fact that our previous hard working black councillors were deselected after they complained about racism within the Labour Party.

The least representative borough for black Londoners is now Enfield, which is beyond unacceptable given that over 30% of Edmonton’s population is made up of residents of African and Caribbean heritage. Another concern is that the Enfield Council Cabinet does not represent the diverse communities living in Edmonton especially those from African Caribbean heritage. This is both an insult to and exclusion of this group. The Windrush generation and their children have contributed so much to the development of Enfield, yet we cannot be included in the decision making process. This is outright marginalisation.

This marginalisation is heightened by the fact that the leader of the council is not relatable. In previous meetings, the black community has found her to be disconnected from the issues raised by us. With such disconnection how can she then serve the community and ensure that our needs are met? There is so much that the black community needs so that we can begin to live fulfilling lives across generations. Too many of us have to “make do” to get by.

There is an urgent need for a community centre for the Black British children of the Windrush generation to participate in extracurricular activities after school. Yes, you may say that there are community centres close enough for everyone. However, the cultural barrier continues to affect our community as the black community does not feel included in these spaces. Windrush elderly do not have a place where they can meet on a daily basis and this is needed—a place where they can express themselves and enjoy the rest of their days in community. With a community centre, young people can receive mentoring and advice about issues that are affecting their lives. It will be a place where those experiencing mental health can receive support.

The leader of Enfield Council urgently needs to engage with Enfield black community to address the high level of poverty, chronic youth unemployment and serious youth violence that our community is experiencing in Edmonton. This can be achieved by having regular meetings with the Edmonton black community and setting socioeconomic milestones and outcomes to be achieved by Enfield Council Economic and Regeneration department.

You stated in your correspondence that “we all need to work together to make sure that the future is bright for all our young people, especially those most disadvantaged.”

I totally agree with you. Unfortunately, I have been reaching out to Enfield Council Youth Service for the past year but have not been successful. My hope is to work in collaboration to tackle the serious youth violence and chronic youth unemployment that has alienated many black young people living in Edmonton from society. However, the youth service shows no willingness to engage with black grassroots organisations. You have been responsive and have mentioned this importance in your communication. Hence, I would appreciate your assistance on this matter. Could you please contact Enfield Council Youth Service and communicate their need to work together with the local hard to reach communities who may not be part of the network? With their help and resources we can reach young people who are not in the mainstream provision living in Edmonton Green.

Due to the barbaric murder of Mr George Floyd by those white supremacist police officers, there has been protest around the world to address systemic racism within Government institutions. Systematic racism is something we have been trying to address for years. In my own work I have been trying hard to address this issue in Edmonton but still cannot seem to get through to government. Protests weren’t excluded in Enfield because we too have had enough of constant marginalisation which significantly affects our quality of life. The Enfield black community have set up our Black Lives Matter organisation to protest being marginalised by the Leader of Enfield Council and certain councillors. I have already explained why we are feeling marginalised by the Leader of Enfield Council.

I have been organising events to find a solution in tackling systematic racism at a local level. I have dedicated years of my life empowering black community members so that they can compete in a world where the odds are stacked against them. Poverty and crime is so closely linked and unless we address poverty we cannot alleviate crime. Like you rightfully said, we can achieve this together.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to attend one of our zoom meetings so that you can also contribute in helping us find well needed solutions. Help us help the black community. Together, our efforts can ensure that black people don’t continue to feel marginalized.

It would help significantly if you could address the points missed in my last communication.

I hope that you will agree to join the meeting. Thank you for considering our request. I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours sincerely

Colin Lee-Own
Enfield Caribbean Connexions
Promoting Equality in Enfield