Brick Lane has been described by many as the ‘heartland’ of the Bangladeshi community in Britain, representing five decades of the struggle to belong and be recognised as part of the global city of London and the wider multicultural nation. Perhaps the most visible testament to this presence is ‘Banglatown’ – the short stretch of Bangladeshi-owned curry restaurants, cafés and other retail spaces that crowd the southern end of Brick Lane. The story of Bengali Brick Lane is a lens onto a vibrant but little-known history of the East End, of London, of Britain and its former empire – which is one strand in the tapestry of modern multicultural, post-imperial Britain. It is a story, too, of the street itself, and its iconic place within London and Britain’s history of migration.
It can be a struggle to answer the inevitable question: ‘Where are you from?’ when you’re not quite sure. A young woman of mixed heritage searches for an answer by looking back over three generations of her family. Documents, family stories and of course the British staple of tea and biscuits help her figure out a way to reply.
A personal look at questions of identity, at a time where migration, political isolation and reclaiming history are hot topics. Is it important to look to your own past in order to better respond to wider issues present today?
Talking about race, although hard, is necessary. This resource has been created by the Smithsonian for educators to help with opening a discussion about race. It looks at the historical foundations of race, being anti-racist and building a community, as well as providing the tools and guidance to explore this topic whether you are teaching infants, adults, or any age in between. There’s no quick or foolproof way to talk about the complexities of race. But, it’s a conversation we all need to have, no matter your race, background, education or experience. What and how the history of race in America is presented is an opportunity to engage in thoughtful, respectful, and productive conversations.
Exploring our family history can help us uncover amazing things about our family and ancestors – and these stories often feature migration.
Here is a helpful guide to help you begin to explore your family tree and the stories hidden within. How much do you know about your parents, grandparents or relatives? Do you have someone in your family who migrated somewhere?
We have created some questions for you to ask your relatives. You will also find a family tree outline to print off and fill in! You can even pin stories, drawings and photos to illustrate it. Fill in the names and draw the connecting lines – or draw your own tree. We have also highlighted some great online resources to help you dig even further.
In these times of social isolation, it is more important than ever to reach out to those you can’t see via phone or video chat. And being at home for an extended period of time is a great opportunity to find out more about your family and relatives. Tell us who you got in touch with and what type of technology you used to do it.