Minorities in Britain suffer from selective blindness at the hands of the majority. The UK, for such a multicultural part of the world, very easily forgets to acknowledge those citizens that are not white, and the effect of that is a British media that slips into an ignorance influenced by the pursuit of money. When the blinkers are put on and all you see is the white British audience, then advertising, film and TV is produced within the constraints of those very same blinkers. Representation is pushed to the wayside in the drive to avoid change. As Riz Ahmed is explaining now that his talents have scored him the limelight, the inability, or unwillingness, to accurately and fairly represent our nation, is a bigger problem than is suggested. It is recognition that is needed, that Britain is not the sum of its Victorian ideals, but a country defined by its multiculturalism.
Another England, a project with recognition at its heart, is working to pay a considerable amount more attention to those British men and women who arrived from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. These people, who became a part of our history the moment our now-decrepit Empire began to colonise those continents unfortunate enough to find themselves in our sights, have altered the shape and form of the UK. ‘another England has existed in the hearts and minds of those destined to come here. That other England has often differed dramatically from the one that people have been confronted with when they arrived in the mother country. And within the buildings, places and communities that they adopted, adapted and built, another England emerged.’
Another England will chronicle the time between 1918 and 2018, and demonstrate the England that lives alongside the accepted histories. Nationalities merged and altered and challenged, and the result is the country we live in today. The only trouble is, is that this other England is too often ignored, situated just outside those blinkers when the UK is being represented. The project will collect images of the everyday lives of these families, and their individual threads will work to form a tapestry of life from a host of different perspectives.
When people are not represented, when those of African or Asian descent cannot identify with a hero in their culture to emulate, strive towards, or even root for, then there remains only the sense of isolation, of being the outsider. Under-representation continues to force-feed otherness and challenge the acceptance of diversity, and it is strange that, even now, it is a fight for minorities to even be portrayed with sympathy.
Another England is hosting events across England to help collect stories. See more here.
Photo Credits: Historic England