image

I don’t know where to start with Last Whites of the East End, except to say that it only took about three minutes before someone mentioned the grave problem facing the indigenous species of Newham borough. Those immigrants, them Muslims, basically anyone whose skin is darker than milk.

As always when a controversial show as appears on TV, twitter goes into overdrive and while I was part of that; that only tells half the story.

Social media allows us the forum to vent, rage and moan about the world’s ills, yet many last night were left biting their tongue unlike the stars of the show.

We had the born-and-bred East End family who were devastated that one of their own was moving away. They tried to change her mind, they cried and blamed the increasingly diverse nature of the region. Her sister talked about the pain of losing her only best friend.

Where was she going?, I hear you ask. Australia? America? Canada?

No, she was moving to Raleigh in Essex. Admittedly it would take ten times the 6-min walk they had now, but it isn’t the other side of the world. Just the other end of the central line.

The mover explained her concerns to us, it was because she had boys that she was moving.

“I want my boys to mix with their own kind, like we did.”
I’d like to tell you that she meant humans, but…

They blamed Newham’s immigrant population, but admitted that they didn’t want to mix with them anyway. That said, they were lovely to the foreign lady doing their nails in the salon. Maybe she doesn’t live in Newham…

About 15 minutes before the end when I turned off for fear of spontaneously combusting through anger, it occurred to me how odd it was that we – the unwanted, for want of a better term – were mincing our words. There were people talking on camera about how they wouldn’t want their child marrying someone brown, while in the next breath saying that they loved a curry. *cue hysterical laughter from said family*

image

Yet I, and others were deleting draft tweets because we didn’t want to offend anyone, or we were concerned that 140 characters wasn’t enough for context. The morning after I still can’t explain why we care, when many others clearly don’t.

And they may laugh at such comments, but it isn’t funny. Just like it wasn’t funny when black and Irish people were turned away from places in the sixties, it’s not funny now.

And I wish I could say I wasn’t offended by their small-minded, bigoted comments; but I was. I was because it reminds me that nothing has really changed, just that the racist comments are less public unless there is the chance to be social media famous. A conclusion that has only been backed up by my twitter feed today. Whether you call it racism, bigotry or just plain discrimination; it hasn’t died, it merely disappeared for a while. Like Take That and Nike Air trainers.

Then we had the pub with all its characters, with names like Fat Tom, Cheeky Charlie and Dim Dave. There used to be loads of places for them to drink, loads of pubs where they could escape the wife. But not any more, and do you know why? Not the recession or the smoking ban. “It’s coz of all the Muslims, it’s cos they don’t drink.”

But before I get too maudlin, I’ll leave you with Tony Cunningham.

image

Born and bred West Ham fan Tony wasn’t happy with the way Newham was changing so he had decided to move to Essex with his new missus and their baby. In a positive way this would mean he was closer to the son he already has. Tony didn’t like the look of Newham’s primary schools. He hadn’t been inside, he just didn’t like how they looked from the outside. Which is a reminder never to take Tony to a book store. Tony had lived in the East End all his life and his maternal Grandmother used to have a cat who she affectionately called ‘N****r’.

Oh and I nearly forgot, Tony’s new partner is Romanian and his father was a black man from Jamaica.

Like they said, truth really is stranger than fiction.

Last Whites of the East End is available on BBC iPlayer.

Advertisements