Copyright © 2011
It came to me today while watching an episode of BBC One soap opera Doctors . This is a soap opera that my husband and I enjoy and each day we make a special effort to watch it accordingly. The storylines have touched on varied topics and it has for me being born in America and now living in England with a different environment, set of standards and processes; has served as a cultural educational awareness and understanding of current dramas that are continually in the news. The past few episodes have treaded on racism, and very troublesome to say the least coming from and being born in a country where I have witnessed the leaders and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement.
28 minute Episode of Torture
BUT on today’s episode titled, ’You People,’ for me and my husband went too far!
It tormented, ridiculed, was hurtful and painful and lived up to it’s meaning according to
“ In crime and law hate crimes (also known as bias-motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, social status, or political affliation.”
It simply went over the top and even having lived all my life basically in racial environments , I had many moments of today’s ‘28 minute episode ’ , that I have never felt in my entire life living in the USA. No matter what I have always felt there was always a source of recourse for such unjust and evil behaviours but on today I too was crying along with the main character and victim , ‘Mrs Winifred Tembe ‘ a proud native of Botswana with deep Christian values is Campus Surgery Receptionist , who made her first on-screen appearance 5 January 2011, played by Lorna Laidlaw. I was with her in spirit because I along with many others understood how very unjust and unfair her character, ‘Mrs. Tembe’ was feeling…
It was seeing this very stoic unapologetically black lady being reduced by unjust tormented treatment where she felt she had no recourse not even her church to bow beneath her knees on the floor in the corner crying all because she simply lived in England and wanted call it her home. It was feeling that the BBC and the producers and writers seemed to take joy on presenting not one but a string of racially motivated programs that would do nothing toward the betterment but on the contrary evoke more hatred , anger and bitterness in the minds of ignorant and uneducated individuals. It just all began to look to easy for them. Attributing during prime time television to million of viewers showing support and endorsement to continue elevating an already monstrous and evil atrocity. Where in America, the title alone, ‘ You People,’ evokes a negative connotation pointed toward racism and if even said the wrong way or fingers pointed could easily result in an unwanted circumstance that could result in a crime. Today’s fingers were pointed blatantly and the verbiage and descriptive languages used to ridicule and bruise the existence of other black groups were intolerable; such as the attack on ’Rastas, referring to the religious black group Rastafarians, of which my husband and I are proud members and it is a recognized religion here in England.
Why did the BBC show the ‘You People‘ Episode?
No, today, was simply unbelievable for me that the BBC would even show it and I am still asking why? I consider myself a very educated and highly intelligent individual by all standards and regardless of what anyone else feels about me, I am proud of myself and my values and on today this episode did it. I found myself for a moment thinking as ‘Mrs. Tembe,’ because of all the realities that were being flashed before my eyes these 28 minutes of torture. Was the BBC wanting the shows ratings to go up? Why, just kept going on in my mind because , being a writer myself, I know that it did not have to be written or produced like this to make a point about racism here in England.
Immigration laws for non-British are continually changing and as I learned studying to take the Life In The UK test to be able to remain living here regardless of the fact that I am spouse and had married a British Citizen . I had to pass, of which I did on my first try, and I learned a lot about the history, customs and culture including the 2009 census breakdown :
Black or Black British : Caribbean 561,246 1.14% 609,400 1.2%
Black or Black British: African 475,938 0.97% 787,500 1.5%
Black or Black British: Other 95,324 0.19% 124,500 0.2%
These questions of why are lingering still and what messages if any were the BBC trying to evoke with showing these past several episodes , especially today’s, ‘You People? Was it the reality of these simple bottom-line facts this episode wanted to bring into current focus? Was it the truth that exist almost everyday in most situations Blacks are continually confronted with, that if you do not rise above you are made aware in some way , if you are not a born White British Citizen, you simply do not belong here in England and should go home? Was the message for Blacks such as my husband who was born here but because of the colour of his skin, he should not call England ‘ his home’ because it is not? Was the message for Blacks such as myself, who were born elsewhere such as America, Caribbean, Africa, etc, who have now settled and gone through all legal systems and processes not really settled in their minds and should not call England their home? Was the message for other groups considered to be Minorities and/or Religious groups and/or others that attend the Church of England being Black as ’Mrs. Tembe’ not welcomed and have no right to attend because you simple do not exist in their minds and such , leave and go home? Was the message simply to support and endorse the mindset of ignorant people who simply like to bully to allow themselves to feel superior and further evoke hatred ?
Applauds to ‘Mrs. Tembe!’
For a couple of brief moments in watching the episode on today especially, I found myself being no better in thoughts than those I saw before my eyes and this went against every grain of me and my values and what I have been taught to believe all my life. And then, just as ‘Mrs Tembe’ seemed to have found her inner spiritual peace and solace remembering what her mother had taught her as a young child, so did I.
As angry as I had become, suddenly, I remembered all my ancestors and other ancestors who had to endure this type of treatment and in the end their words and their spirits echoed loudly, basically the same message Mrs, Tembe’s mother had told her. “ Simply look them in the face, because you have never and will never be afraid of them…”
I would like to say to you, Lorna Laidlaw for your honest and emotional portrayal of such a worthy fictional character , Mrs. Tembe! Whether the tears that we saw from your eyes rolled down as those of Lorna Laidlaw or Mrs. Tembe, matter not because you both are unashamedly and unapologetically black as my husband and myself. Whether you playing that role in the midst of so many who may have been fiction or reality, matters not. Whether you will ever get the recognition from your peers and others for such a heartfelt and soul wrenching part matters not, because we and others alike who know the truth and all it encompasses by living here in England we say to you,
“THANK YOU, a job well done. Stay here and continue your works here in England, because this is, Your home, just as it is Ours too”!!!
Final question Pondering?
Please know I do not applaud the BBC, their producers and writers in how or why they chose to portray these past several episodes on racism. Their manner in doing so in my opinion has and will only elevate the real bullies who thrive on programs such as those they have shown to increase the ‘hate crimes’ here in England. It is not all British , White or Black and the ones that want to make a betterment will speak up and out as others have in the past.
As for both my husband and I ,we are very proud to be here in England and we will always speak up and out and look these bullies of ignorance in their eyes with no fear because It is the right thing to do.
We will always believe in and echo the words, from the hearts and minds of those who have also witnessed such crimes that have existed before us. Leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King , Nelson Mandela, H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I and so very many others who have paved the ways and opened the doors for us, and know justice will never be served as long as a person is treated unfair and unjust simply because of the colour of their skin.
I am proud my husband has complained to the Ofcom and the Equality commission and I will do likewise demanding, “… that the BBC be called to account for the blatant promotion of racial hatred through their particular brand of broadcasting re the Doctors Story. “
As I chose to find threads of positiveness out of all these episodes depicting torment, hurt, pain and humiliation a new question has surfaced and I am now pondering,
“ Is the BBC a real Hate-Crime Bully?”
Co-Founder of Diablotin Television Ltd