‘Mangrove’ speaks of the racist past with a present voice

Gordie Jackson
3 min readNov 24, 2020
Fair use: source https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2020/small-axe-mangrove-trailer

Meeting for Worship on a Sunday always provides an opportunity in the silence for the mind to reflect on the week. Maybe 20 minutes in I heard a friend read John O’Donoghue poem,

A Blessing of Solitude

“May you recognize in your life the presence, power, and light of your soul.

May you realize that you are never alone, that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.

May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.

May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here, that behind the facade of your life there is something beautiful, good, and eternal happening.

May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.”

John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

The line that stood out was,

“May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.”

It is such a liberating line encouraging you to be yourself. But not only that in respecting your own individuality and difference I think it must help us to respect the individuality and difference of others.

Tied to this thought where two thoughts from the week.

I watched after the prompting of a friend ‘Mangrove’. I found it reminiscence of the Trial of Chicago 7 in that this was an event before my birth that I had never heard about. The film depicts the racism that Black people faced in Notting Hill, London. It was racism centred around one Police Officer who influenced his colleagues to target Black people arresting them without any cause to do so.

Frank Critchlow proved too much for him as he set up his own restaurant. The Metropolitan Police harassed him and his patrons to the point that Critchlow decided to highlight it through a march. The march was heavily Policed and resulted in nine people being arrested and tried for inciting a riot.

As with the Chicago 7 the significance is what happened in the Courtroom. Two of the defendants decided to represent themselves one being Dorcas Howe the other being Altheia Jones-LeCointe.

The film reenacts how the 9 sought through their trial to expose the Police racism that had them in the dock. They were acquitted of the charge of conspiracy to start a riot although I understand a number of them were convicted of lesser charges. Those convicted received Suspended Sentences.

The other thought from the week was a Sainsbury’s ad. My attention was drawn to it as the Twitter account revealed that some white people were objecting to a Black family being featured.

If anything it shows that division of people of by their skin colour remains huge as many, as seen by their comments, continue to believe that Englishness is synonymous with whiteness.




Gordie Jackson

Speaks with a Northern Irish accent, lives in Hertfordshire, England.