All 2 entries tagged Integration

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January 17, 2007

Big Brother? Big Bullies more like…

There’s no hiding from it: Celebrity Big Brother fever has taken over. With the allegations of bullying and racism making front page news, and the issue being taken as far as Parliament, this has become about something more than just a reality tv show. I’ve been contacted by two BBC radio station this week to give my viewpoint as a viewer and as a British person of Indian origin, so I thought it was about time I shared those views with the Warwick Blog community.

First things first, I think that there is no doubt that Jade, Jo and Danielle are bullying Shilpa. I’m sure many people, Asian or otherwise, will relate personally to the way in which they have singled her out and are bitching and picking on her non-stop. I do, however, doubt that she was singled out because of her colour. I think that they were looking for a target whatever, and she’s became it because she’s the most different to them. They took her honesty about her status and success in India for arrogance, and things have snowballed from there. And there’s Jade who’s famous for her initial embarassing behaviour in BB, and Danielle who’s famous for being a WAG who feel unsettled by this. I think that if they’d placed someone else in there who was displaced from the world they know (e.g. an opera singer), she would have faced similar treatment. And yes, she: this is definitely a female thing.

But, the other day a line was crossed which put the three cronies on dodgy ground. When they were running out of things to mock Shilpa about, they turned to her ethnic background…when they maliciously mocked her accent and made sweeping, bitchy statements about ‘how things are in India’ I felt a pinch. She has never judged what they do, or how they conduct themselves, let alone said anything about life in England. How dare they make awful assumptions about India?! I was listening to a discussion on the BBC Asian Network yesterday and someone made a very important point: you don’t need to understand someone else’s background and/or culture to just be nice to them.

So, what needs to be done? Let’s get one thing straight – Shilpa doesn’t need our help. She has her moments, but overall she is handling them really well, turning the tables on Jade in the argument shown tonight. She’s been paid to be in the show, and if she couldn’t take it, she’d walk out, but she’s determined to rise above the bitchiness. As Jermaine said, “You can’t reason with stupidity.”
But, Channel 4 do need to do something to let those dreadful women know that what they’re doing is unacceptable, not for Shilpa but for all the people who suffer bullies at school/college/work. These people endure similar treatment, but there aren’t any cameras watching them, there aren’t thousands of people ready to make a stand for them. I was a lucky one, but my brother endured bullying at primary school to the point where he had to change school. Just like Shilpa, not even the ‘good guys’ stuck up for him and the teachers made it out that he was exaggerating.

CBB has become uncomfortable viewing, and by letting Jade, Jo and Danielle’s behaviour continue Channel 4 are giving the message that such bullying is ok. Well, it’s not. And anybody who has suffered (or continues to suffer) discrimination, segregation and abuse deserves some intervention to let the bullies know on national television that what they do is just wrong.

V xx


December 11, 2006

Integration, integration, integration

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6219626.stm

“The right to be different, the duty to integrate, that is what it means to be British.”

Tony Blair raised eyebrows, and also some tempers, with his Downing St speech stating that people entering the UK must be prepared to be tolerant or not become part of society.

We’ve heard time and again how apparently it was because they ‘didn’t feel a part of society’ in the UK that young Muslim men went off to the Middle East and Asia to train with extremist groups and then fight for them.

It’s funny, that as a member of an ethnic minority I didn’t even think about the concept of integration until recent terrorist acts threw the issue into the limelight. I’ve never questioned my loyalties to this country: it’s home and always will be. My parents have been here since the 70s and identify themselves as British, let alone my brother and I who were born and brought up here. This doesn’t mean for one minute that we don’t hold on to the religion and culture that my grandparents brought with them when they immigrated. We’re practicing Hindus, I’ve been taught to cook traditional food, we listen to Indian music, and God help my brother and I if we dare to speak in English in the house!

But with all the fuss going on at the moment, I’m starting to wonder if I’m in a strange sub-minority of the ‘well-integrated’. It wasn’t easy for my grandparents’ and parents’ generations when they first arrived, the mindset of the time meant that there were (of course) those that felt they shouldn’t even be here. Yet, I dread to think what my life would’ve been like if my family had carried those negative experiences with them rather than moving on. Because sometimes I think that’s what’s happened with all these ‘disillusioned’ people we keep hearing about: the first immigrants into the UK had it tough and they’ve passed the hurt and resentment onto their children. The result of this is a generation who despite being born here, carry a chip on their shoulder about the country they should be calling ‘home’.

I look different, my religion is different, I speak some other languages. I still had the benefit of the same free education as the white person sat next to me. It was still the National Health Service that cared for my grandfather when he had a stroke, for one grandmother who had cancer, and for the other who had Alzheimer’s. My childhood was an intermingling of two cultures but they weren’t fighting each other. My parents saw that you couldn’t be in a country and cocoon yourself from the life it lived, so they’ve done their best to embrace it – without sacrificing anything they brought with them thirty-odd years ago. They strike this strange balance which has made things so very easy for my brother and I.

So here I am, this Hindu girl who went to a Catholic school, spent her Saturdays at the temple learning to read Gujarati, but her lunchtimes practicing hymns with the school choir. An unashamed Take That fan, yet an equally unashamed Abhishek Bachchan fan, who deliberates on a Saturday night whether to watch an old Bollywood film with her mum or Match of the Day with her dad. I just put up my Christmas decorations, a few months after filling my house with lamps for Diwali. And I’m thinking that perhaps the key to integration is some good old fashioned respect.

Respect by the ‘host’ community for the differences that ethnic minority communities have, and in particular the difficulties faced by those just beginning a new life in the UK.

Respect by the minorites for the culture of the country that you chose to come to, that you willingly made your home.

Maybe I’m being too naive, over-simplifying something much more complicated, but to me integration means respect and understanding on both sides.

What does integration mean to you?

V xx


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