East London in the nineties was a difficult place for immigrants and ethnic minorities because of the fear of racist violence and discrimination. For Bangladeshis in Tower Hamlets, the barriers to establishing a community were compounded by poverty and poor housing.
Rabina Khan, who now lives in Whitechapel, was a community worker in the Isle of Dogs at the same time as a British National Party candidate was elected to the local council. She heard tales of faeces being posted through the letterboxes of Asian residents, and of girls having their headscarves pulled off.
Her latest novel, 'Ayshea’s Rainbow' tells the story of a young Bangladeshi girl who befriends an elderly white neighbour despite escalating racism around them. The story is partly autobiographical, echoing Rabina’s own experiences growing up in Britain in the eighties and nineties.
Community relations, though still tense, have improved greatly in the past decade. Tower Hamlets now has a Bangladeshi mayor, a number of vibrant community organisations and women’s groups.
To watch the interview with Rabina Khan click on the link at the top right of this page.