Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds I came here on a ship called the Ascania in 1962, from Trinidad and Tobago. And for the first time in my life, I was adrift on a sea of circumstance, having to take care of my own self and that was a rough time for me. I had to face certain realities, and some of those were in housing. You know the ads in the shop windows still said “No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs”. I think laws that outlawed discrimination in public places were very important, and they came about because of the challenges that we face as immigrants and the response that we had.
Skip to 0 minutes and 58 seconds You come to a place where you’re looking for a house or a room to rent that has been advertised and the person says “Why not try that other place around the corner?” “My other tenants might object” “Very sorry, it’s just gone” Or something like that. When you hear that three or four or five times you begin to think, “No, it’s not just gone. You don’t want me to stay on those premises, but you’re afraid to say that” So there were all these excuses that allowed racism, covert racism, to go on unchallenged. Once that legislation was in place, people found it a lot harder to do what they had been doing before.
Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds I think it still went on to some degree because laws don’t change the minds of the people, not immediately anyway but when there is legislation in place, people think twice and they begin to think “Am I wrong?”, “Am I doing wrong?”, “Are these people really, are their rights being violated?”, “Can I do something different?”, “I have to think differently, otherwise I would fall foul of the law”. So I think that legislation changed things positively for the better.
Case study: My life as an immigrant in 1960s Britain
Having arrived from Trinidad into Britain in 1962, the playwright, director, journalist and activist Shango Baku recalls the discrimination he faced when trying to find accommodation and the positive law changes that prevented it from happening in the future.
I think laws that outlawed discrimination in public places were very important and they came about because of the challenges that we face as immigrants.
Since the 1965 Race Relations Act, the UK Parliament has continued to pass laws that make the lives of people across the UK more equal, but it’s an ongoing process. Wherever you live, no matter who you are or your background, laws passed by the UK Parliament will affect and shape aspects of your life.
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