By Asmara Hamilton
The representation of different groups of people and the current issues surrounding them has been a tool utilised by TV programs for a while. My focus this week is on the soap opera, Eastenders. Eastenders is set in East London. The cast is generally quite white-washed with only a handful of characters being of Black and Asian backgrounds. The characters which are of Black and Asian background are depicted in a negative light in fact, two of the six Black Characters on the show are actually children who share the same absent father. One is a teenage boy who’s white mother has looked after him his whole life despite the lack of help or interest from his father, and the other is a nine year old girl who is a part time carer for her severely disabled mother. From what can be inferred, the little girl’s father has only recently showed an interest as her mother is slowly dying.
On the other hand, the other little Black girl who is on the show is assumed to be about four or five. Her father, who is no longer in the show, defied the stereotype and was a good and visible father. However, due to the consequences of his past, and debts, he has been killed. This left the child fatherless and the mother oblivious to the fact that he had been killed, instead, the mother was left to think he had left their family without reason. It is also important to note that the child’s mother (Kim) was jobless and ended up being evicted out of their home as her husband (Vincent) had not told her that he could not afford to pay the mortgage. This left Kim to find a minimum wage job and forced her to move back in with her sister (Denise) and step- father (Patrick). Denise has been made redundant and had lost her council job whilst Patrick is an old age pensioner.
Representation can be discussed in reference to current issues within the world. Not so long ago, a new character was introduced to the show called Dr.Legg, this character was Jewish and died within the show. During his time on the show there were heavy references to the issues which Jews have faced throughout history. However, there have never been episodes devoted to the issues which Black people have faced. From the timing of the episodes, I can suggest the issue was brought about due to the disputes within the Labour party regarding comments about Antisemitism.
However, Windrush and the aftermath of it are still ongoing yet have never been referred to in the show despite the obvious Caribbean background of the few black characters within the show. Media, especially television shows, are a huge platform in order to educate and inform their audiences. Windrush is definitely something which should have been referred to in order to inform people about the real life issues people are facing.
The negative representation of Black and Asain people within the media is nothing new. However, as we are in the 21st century, it is not impossible to believe that there would be a more positive display of us, and that issues we face can be regarded as seriously as others. Instead these issues are constantly being disregarded.
In my opinion, the representation of the issues regarding Judaism shows the development of British society. However, the lack of representation and negative representation of Black people in this particular soap opera signifies a lack of progression and respect for issues ongoing for Black people.
Photo by Matt Pearson