How the Mother of a Murdered Girl Kept Our Caribbean Community Together
Howe, Darcus, New Statesman (1996)
The Caribbean community in Nottingham gathered this month to take young Danielle Beccan to her final resting place. The turnout--about 1,500 people--was astounding. Danielle was the 14-year-old child who was blown away by a pistol-bearing black youth as she made her way home after celebrating her birthday with friends at a local funfair.
I know the local black community well. We Caribbeans settled there just after the Second World War, increasing in number through the 1950s and 1960s. Our labour was required and, through its education system, British colonialism had given us the minimum needed for serving the owners of capital. We spoke English and were acquainted with British institutions.
The race issue loomed as large then as it does now. There were many physical attacks by white workers, leading to race riots in Nottingham in 1958 at the same time as those in Notting Hill, London.
In spite of primitive policing, we gave as good as we got. That experience, more than any other, drew us together and turned us into a community. We built organisations for our recreation: lodges, blues dances, cricket teams, places of worship. We saved part of our wages in a system known as the "partner" whereby, say, 50 people put a sum into a pot each week and then took it in turns to draw on it when they needed the down payment for a mortgage. …