Thursday, June 02, 2016

Statement on BBC documentary “Last Whites of the East End” from Newham residents

[Newham Stand Up to Racism have initiated the following unity statement. If you are a Newham resident & wish to add your name email: standupnewham@gmail.com]
"As residents of Newham we do not recognise the picture painted of our borough by the programme makers of “The Last Whites of the East End” broadcast on Tuesday 24 May. We fear the documentary will pander to division and prejudice. It was built on the false premise that we are divided and segregated; the programme makers seem to have deliberately excluded the rich and complex realities of community life in our borough.
Throughout its history Newham has been a home to peoples and newcomers of different backgrounds and origin. it is the richer for it. Huguenot, Irish, Jewish, afro-Caribbean, Asian and east European migrants and very many others from all over the world have made their homes here and in doing so have made Newham and the east end the diverse, multicultural community it is today.
The fact that 147 languages are spoken in Newham is something to celebrate. Nor are we segregated into rigid ethnic groups. Some 34 percent of households are ethnically mixed (compared to the national average of 12 percent). Such a multicultural environment enriches our experience and that of our children and young people. Newham is as British as any other part of the country, that is itself, after all, incredibly diverse.
The programme makers of “The Last Whites of the East End” have constructed a highly divisive narrative by selecting a very small number of anecdotal views. Prejudiced viewpoints of “the other” were left unchallenged and there was little if no attempt to seek positive views of the community as a whole.
There was no serious attempt to situate the complex population moves in our inner cities over time. Population moves to Essex, the Home Counties and the outer London suburbs have been a feature of London life since World War Two. That is not exclusive to east London, nor to the white population. Changing urban populations are a feature of London life.
Despite this the programme makers played a theme of a ‘native’ white minority being driven out by waves of immigrants from different cultures and backgrounds. This was a theme used to try and divide the east end in the past; it was a theme played against Jews before World War II and against black communities after the 1950s.
It was a theme that led to serious racially motivated violence in Newham in the 1970s and after. Yet it was in Newham that Asian, white and black united together to oppose this prejudice. Then as now there were divisions to challenge and overcome; but that is how a community is built.
We enjoy Newham for the vibrant, diverse and genuine community it is. We believe that our community is far more than the sum of its parts and we are very proud to live here… together.
Cllr Rokhsana Fiaz, OBE (Custom House ward), lifelong resident
Cllr John Whitworth, (West Ham ward)
Cllr John Gray, (West Ham ward)
Rob Ferguson, Newham Stand Up to Racism
Steve Hedley, Assistant General Secretary, RMT union
Iain Hale, Asst Secretary, Newham NUT, lifelong resident
Dr Ron Singer, retired GP and chair of Newham Save our NHS
Rachel Collinson, Green Party spokesperson Business, Innovation & Skills.
Roger Silverman, Forest Gate, West Ham Labour Party
Yesim Deveci, Snr Lecturer, University of East London, Former Founder & Director of Dost Centre for Young Refugees & Migrants, lifelong resident
Gargi Bhattacharrya, East Ham, professor, University of East London
Simon Shaw - vice president Redbridge Teachers Association
Ayesha Taylor, Focus E15 campaign
Rabbil Sikdar, Newham Labour Party
Paulyne Gaillard, retired teacher
Kevin Blowe
Umair Saeed, former candidate Respect
Brian Richardson, Asst secretary, Unite Against Fascism
Roddy Slorach, Equality and diversity officer, UCU branch, Imperial College
Mohammed Ravat
Shagufta Nasreen
Jill Oxley
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