RACISM AND DISCRIMINATION

Interviewees recalled experiences of racial abuse, violence and discrimination. Racism appeared in all areas of life and took different forms. Several interviewees spoke of the hostility they encountered as they looked for accommodation:

"You see in those days it was open people would say, quite straight, if they advertised, no coloured, no children and we had an added thing - no Gentiles, you see, in a Jewish area. So we had all sorts of things to contend with. I'd get to a place and before I'd get there I'd 'phone they couldn't probably tell from the voice...As soon as I turn up, bang, they'd slam the door in my face." Mr Windsor on his search for accommodation in London in the 1950's.

"the person I was going to buy the house off, said to me, 'I told a neighbour that a black woman was buying the house and he said, Oh why are you selling it to a black person?' He [the vendor] said, 'No, no she's nice, she's really nice, she's a nurse and she's really nice.' But when he said that in such a blase manner, does he understand the gravity of what he just said?" Anon, Trinidad.

Others told us of prejudicial and racist treatment in the workplace.

"There was discrimination, the first discrimination was with us, who came from a Sikh family. I had to cut my hairs and shave and everything, and then I got the job, otherwise they were not giving the job with turbans... My hair was up to here...I was very, very disappointed...but I could not get a job...so... I said alright." Mr Hothi, who came from the Punjab, India in 1963.

"...a few years ago I had to take one of my employers to tribunal for discrimination and racism...I came through that experience because the people who supported me was the Council for Racial Equality...I couldn't prove it because people like the doctor who knew it had happened...and had been subjected to racism decided that she wasn't going to give evidence because she was from Sri Lanka, she said I want to stay employed by them, I know what will happen. I met her years later in a clinic...and she said...what I had complained about then, she was still experiencing it.." Anon, Trinidad.

Participants remembered verbal abuse at school:

"...The common thing was...'You're a Paki kid, get out,' and things like that and first of all obviously when we were little we came to accept it but sometimes...you didn't accept it and you end up having a fight over it...the teachers explained to me, as you grow older you're going to find this on a daily basis...you can't have a fight with everyone every day so you just have to...control yourself and just walk away from things, that's what we've learnt...we've learned to walk away from things as much as we can." Mr. Patel, a Ugandan Asian.

Others told of attacks on family members:

"The incident that has really had impact on my life is my son, when he got beaten up. Badly, his face was swollen for three days...and nobody did anything.... Why? Why wouldn't anybody do anything...? I keep on asking that question, it's been two or three years now but I still ask that question...I'm here but not here, my heart is not in this country, it's gone back to Africa." Anon, Ghana.

On homes:

"...on several occasions rotten eggs were thrown, our kitchen windows were plastered with mud, all sorts of things happened but we didn't react. In some cases I didn't even tell the police because that would have aggravated the situation further and people realised that we were calm people. We hadn't come here to fight them or steal their rights for ourselves." Mrs Babraa.

And on places of worship:

"...in Woolwich the Sikh temple suffered from graffiti, fire, dirt being thrown into the compound, all these things. Although the police tried to tackle it nobody found out who these people were who were doing this, so people knew that they were being targeted as a community by the white people whether they were National Front or not. That fear was there." Mrs Babraa.

In contrast, others told of the support and warmth from neighbours and the wider community.

Having been verbally assaulted in the street Mrs Westcombe recalls:

"...there was a white woman, she turned around and she said to me 'don't take any notice of the stupid man love'... so she kind of apologised by saying don't take any notice of these stupid people and gave me confidence in that you know, it's fine you are different, so what."

Another woman reflected on the positive impact of moving to the UK:

"...it was only when I came here that I started reflecting and realised that the African wasn't beneath us and we were all the same and that it is something that England taught me. Which is unusual, isn't it, when you think about it...of course I was still young but...it was England that made me realise that we had to accept all different nationalities." Anon.