"You Can't Say Anything Anymore!" by Diversifying Group

Let's talk about growing up British Asian with Uzma Chaudhry

May 27, 2021 Diversifying.io Season 1 Episode 9
"You Can't Say Anything Anymore!" by Diversifying Group
Let's talk about growing up British Asian with Uzma Chaudhry
Show Notes Transcript

You'll probably know that it is Asian Pacific Heritage month this month, however did you know that Asian owned businesses have been hit the hardest in the U.K? Or that fewer than 1 in 10 management jobs are held by British Asians. Podcast host Naomi sits down with Uzma Chaudhry a Diversity and Inclusion Manager  to shed light on some of the challenges that Asians face in Britain.

Uzma is a Diversity and Inclusion consultant, a bit of a free spirit but passionate about making meaningful change. She also studies Politics, Philosophy and Economics part time with the Open University. Listen and learn more about Asian stereotypes and how internalised anti-asian racism affects every day life and how you can support your Asian friends and family.

This podcast is produced by Diversifying.io - Keep up to date on how we're changing hearts and minds on Instagram: @diversifyingjobs or via our website: www.diversifying.io 

Bame Recruitment:

diversifying the IO presents. You can't say anything anymore. A podcast where we bring you the latest diversity news, and in depth meaningful conversations about how we can make the future better for

Naomi:

Hi everyone, My name is Naomi, and welcome to today's episode, this month is Asian Pacific Heritage Month. And as a member of the asian community myself, it's something I'm pretty particularly excited about. We also have a new segment coming up on the podcast. So stay tuned for that. And as always, we have a very special guest today. So if you'd like to introduce yourself.

Uzma:

Hi, everybody, my name is Uzma Chaudry. I am a diversity and inclusion manager, which usually means that the mood of the room drops when I when I introduce my job title, because people get worried about what is.

Naomi:

Haha, it's quite good one. Yeah, so let's just get straight into it. So as I've said, we've got a very exciting new segment coming up. As our title suggests, you can't see anything and more, I've compiled a list of common stereotypes and phrases, and we're going to go through them and explore the sort of ideas behind them. And think about why they might be problematic, and potentially what you can say instead, due to time restraints, we cannot go through every single one of them. So this is just going to be a little highlight list from some of the lived experiences that I've seen from online and other experiences. If you would like though, to suggest a potential other topic that we've missed, feel free to contact us on our Instagram, which is @diversifying.io and feel free to suggest a topic that we could cover in the future. Okay, so let's just run through a list of the ones that I've. So the first question is, where are you from?

Uzma:

And when I hear that question, my brain goes in like any number of about five different directions, I think about the place that I was physically born, I think about the place that I'm living right now, which is different to the place that I was born, I think about the places that my parents were born. And and unusually I ended up asking, I usually end up clarifying what do you specifically mean about, you know, where I'm from. And then sometimes I also just throw all of them in, and I'll say, I was born in Manchester, I live in London, my parents are from Pakistan and from India. Which one of those would you like the answer to?

Naomi:

Yeah, I agree. It's such a complex question, you know, do we say like, give them my life story, where my mom was born? Well, I was born, where I went to school.

Uzma:

And even some of those countries, you know, some of those places, they may not exist in the same way as they did when those people were born. You know, so I guess we're all just, you know, people of the earth? That's a good answer to that question. Where are you from? I'm from as much as you can.

Naomi:

I think for me, personally, my I don't know if it's the same with you. But my kind of feeling with this question is that it's often asked as in the implication of like, you know, if you're not white, might be why they ask you the question, and the implication that somebody who doesn't look like the perceived majority of the country couldn't necessarily be from that. I think that's, that's personally, what I think about it.

Uzma:

I think so i think you're right, I think there's there's, definitely, it depends on who's asking the question of how the questions are being asked as to how I think I interpret it. But, you know, what I will say is that sometimes there's a degree of familiarity, that a person is looking for some sort of like connection as well. And I think, you know, when I think about who's asking the question, I've definitely asked the question, to, for instance, are the people from an Asian background, and I'm sort of trying to work out, you know, whether there's familiarity there, whether there's a commonality that we can kind of bond over? So I definitely think it depends on who's asking the question and how they ask it as to how aggressive I feel, in my response, I'm like, don't ask me those questions. You know, if, if, if it comes from a certain person in a in a really loaded, kind of you have to justify your experience on why you're in this kind of room in the first instance, sort of way. So, definitely depends.

Naomi:

That's a very good point. Actually, as you point out such a good point about commonality, I think, you know, as humans, we're always looking for similarities, and there's almost this kind of like, ease in their eyes, if they if you have some kind of commonality, and they have some kind of understanding and some kind of relationship. So it's a very good point, actually. And it's, it's all I guess, you know, so context dependent. So it's not really clear answer there. If we just move on to the next one then which is "You all look at the same."

Uzma:

Have you ever had that one before?

Naomi:

Me? Yeah, I've had that. So many times, I think I've shown I remember when I was a child, actually, I used to have a picture of myself and some other Chinese friends and and then people just saying which ones you. I remember a lot of times I would be on public transport and there would there would be an Asian person, maybe on the platform and they would say, Oh, yeah, isn't that your mom?

Uzma:

God, that's, that's, that's, that's tricky. I think I think I haven't had, you will look the same directly at me. But I've kind of sort of referenced the way in which I know that we're perceived to look the same. So I have quite frequently been mixed up for the other, like one brown Muslim scarf where even like a job wearing woman in the, in the meeting or the conversation or the kind of space? And so the implication is that, that they've assumed that we're the same because they've missnamed us or they, you know, miss-identified us, for each other. So it happens quite frequently. I don't know if everybody is is confident, just straight up, say or you look the same, but they will, you know, be really comfortable misgendering or miss naming or miss identify? Because, because we all do look the same. So it's implied in what they think. But perhaps they're not always say it directly.

Naomi:

Like, gosh, figure one, the two people hijabi people in the room, wow yeh, wow what a trope? Yeah, I guess with this one, it's really just about lack of exposure is really just..

Uzma:

I think it's sometimes I think it's more than that, I think, is genuine laziness. And I think that sometimes the degree to which, you know, a person may have dehumanised an entire race of people are an entire kind of, you know, ethnic group of people means that, that they don't see you as potentially they don't see you as worth their time or worth their while in learning your face or learning your name or kind of looking at you truly for you as a person because they have sort of rescinded to this space where you know, you're not really on the same level of them as them in the first instance. And so the energy that they put in to learning about you and learning enough about you to know that you that you are as my over here, and that person over there is the only, you know, people often can't be bothered, and they won't say that. But I think that's sort of often what's implied when when they make statements like that, I think, you know, clearly not worth your time or energy to, to know enough about me and to recognise that I'm my own person separate from that other Brown, Muslim youth are aware that, you know, okay,

Naomi:

that's a very good point about kind of dehumanising and sort of uniformity of maybe, you know, you said, just just seeing, okay, there's another brown person, okay. All the same. Not recognising the individual background, just any individual characteristics. I think that's a very good point. If you just move on to the next one now about "Are you a terrorist?"

Uzma:

The version of a terrorist is so sort of predefined. For us, it's been sort of stereotypes to be a very specific type of person. And I think that the, you know, with my kind of unconscious bias, as well within conversations like this, that even I, as a Muslim, that's affected by this sort of assumption, can can, you know, have an initial thought to go, maybe that person is a bit suspicious of why they're wearing it like that, and why they're doing that, and, and I feel really quite guilty and really, like, ashamed that that is my initial response. And it is only like a fleeting sort of thought, and quite quickly to kind of move past it. And I'm, like, shut up, what are you talking about this? You know, and that is, you know, evidence that I'm as human and susceptible to some of these stereotypes and some of these assumptions about communities of people, despite being part of that community, you know, that's quite a significant statement to be making. So I feel quite shameful about the fact that that's how I feel. But it is a very real thing that happens to me as well, because of the kind of bombardment of what a terrorist looks like and how they should act and what they should be wearing on what kind of environments you need to be more sort of aware of terrorism, which is just absolutely bizarre, because we know that, you know, terrorists, actually, the greatest percentage of terrorism happens to come from far right, nationalists, you know, and that's not just in the UK that's in the US as well. So, yeah, it brings up a bit of big kind of conflict of feelings, that particular statement for me as a as an individual, for sure.

Naomi:

Yeah, thank you for sharing that

Uzma:

into that other thing that they feel, but it's real, but how I feel.

Naomi:

Yeah, that's the thing, isn't it? It's, like you said that there's, there's a complete bombardment of this image of we have in our heads. And, you know, it's completely understandable if individuals even from those backgrounds would be thinking or feeling that way as well, just because of how we've been programmed to think about what this looks like, what, these are the signs, the footprints? Yeah.

Uzma:

100%. And I think more than anything, it's a reminder that we are just as, you know, susceptible to to that internalised Islamophobia, or internalised racism as anybody else. And sometimes that is an overlooked point for our community, because we're so busy trying to survive the impact of some of these issues and the impact of racism or the impact of Islamophobia, that we don't often have the headspace to also unpack how we are also perpetuating some of those stereotypes and how we are also complicit in the, in the makeup of of some of these issues as well. So I think it's a it's an important point. And I know it's, it might feel really controversial, but but it's a very real active, I feel,

Naomi:

I think, internalised anything is such a big part of the coversation, I said, a lot of people are just trying to survive and face the external one. And then there's all that work on the inside as well, which is so tough to learn, especially when it's perpetuated by entire communities. Yeah. You know, just move on to the next one, which is, do you have an arranged marriage?

Uzma:

So just for a bit of context, my my, I don't know if we're gonna get into this a little bit more detail later. But my parents are from two different countries. My mom is Indian, my dad is Pakistani. And, and I think I heard this question a lot growing up. And I always used to laugh at it, despite the fact that I've never actually had a conversation with my parents to go, what kind of marriage Are you going to meet? We have never sat down and gone. Like they talk a lot about arranged marriages. Is that what you expect of me and, and I laughed, because my parents kind of union and their marriage was so sort of unique. And so kind of, I guess, maverick for the time that they were growing up in that the idea of me also have me having an arranged marriage at all, was something that I found quite funny, because my parents were from different countries, different cultures, different religions. And, you know, we're able to kind of form a union and, you know, create a beautiful family off the back of it. So, yeah, I'd always ruled this one out before even having a conversation because I was like, Well, if they didn't have an arranged marriage, they actually hackers, for free to have one. And I rejected it straight away before they even, you know, came up as a conversation. And then I spent most of my time in my life after that, trying to explain the difference between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage. And a love marriage as well. But yeah, I think it's definitely one that gets thrown around a lot. I think that it's a fair question in some capacity. And again, it depends on how the person is asking it and who's asking it and why they're asking it. But, you know, arranged marriages are a very real thing in Asian communities. And, you know, more often than not, they are actually really healthy, you can have arranged marriages that are really healthy, and that are not forced, because that is a separate thing entirely. So with this one, I think, an arranged marriage is still something that shouldn't perhaps be sort of disregarded as being an experience of Asian people. But it's absolutely not the only experience. And I think the assumption, even within this question is that the arranged marriage is a bad thing. And that is looked down upon. And actually, there's a very kind of colonial interpretation of arranged marriage that looks like down on it. And, and that's a really difficult starting point, when you're trying to challenge an assumption like this or a stereotype like this, I would say.

Naomi:

yeah, that's such a good point about these implications about what what emerges and expl- You know, the starting point is, we all have this bias in the West. Anyway, this is what marriage looks like. This is how being you know, good married person is and we know what we need to realise is that in different cultures, different rules apply, you know, a parental involvement in your to say marriage is different, and in different cultures, listening to your parents, but who's your mo- is actually a really good thing. You know, you're being good, respectful person, but in some cultures, that's considered not a good thing. And it's basically it's it's, I think, often that you said, it's taken to the debate, but it is too heavily skewed towards Okay, forced marriage, which is it takes up 90% the conversation. But that's that's not to say that that's a lot of people's experiences, obviously, very unfortunate for the people that is, but there's many different complex ones. And it's kind of missing the point if it only goes to that part of the conversation.

Uzma:

And I think right mind kind of issue with this question is that there's an inherent assumption that an arranged marriage is a bad thing, and it feels like a little bit of a charged question. Like, do you have an arranged marriage and tell me more about it, you know, it's a sort of, like weird, exotic, exotic size thing that perhaps people don't understand very much about them. They've seen, perhaps that you belong to this particular community that do arranged marriages and then they make assumptions. And there's a bunch of assumptions that that be made before I think there's questions even been asked that don't always come from a good kind of pure place of, of curiosity and sort of genuine, you know, desire to learn. So, yeah,

Naomi:

but yeah, we'll move on now to another one a personal favourite of mine saying this ironically, "You're english is really good."

Uzma:

no your English is really good. Oh, my days I've had Your English is really good. Yeah, you're really articulate, you know? Well, God I've had. So this one comes up a lot. And I think that that there is a very real distinction between saying somebody's got a good command of a language and is able to articulate themselves well, versus this question or this statement rather than that's really quite evangelising your English really good light. Yeah, cool. I've lived here my entire life, like your English is not so good. And what's your excuse? Do you know? I think this always makes me laugh. I obviously like most people, you know, British born, their English is usually quite good, because they've usually been in the country, but also like, if their English is not really good. I don't know. I think that, you know, again, there's an implied assumption that your English being really good is an amazing kind of compliment when when actually, you know, it's usually some sort of masked sort of statement there to kind of go, Oh, you've kind of done all right, integrating with those. And I think I feel like English is probably an overrated language. There are many, many languages out there. And I think again, it just is really like sort of Western sort of influence on what we perceive to be, you know, impressive and speaking good English seems to be one of them where, you know, there are, I sort of really enjoyed looking into the kind of history of the world and the history of, like, knowledge, really, and where a lot of that came from, and you can trace a lot of that back to, you know, the east, most of it is back to the east most Academia and most sort of like knowledge comes from the east and I can promise you like English was not so great for them. But but the kind of intelligence and knowledge the, the kind of beauty of minds that kind of collided in parts of the East parts of Persia, you know, Baghdad was like a cultural capital of the world. And nobody's talking cuiture at that point, in that part of the world in the in the way that we do now. So yeah, I kind of went off on a little bit of a personal rant, but I have lots to say about the statement as someone that's heard it a lot and is constantly told that my English is really good. As though as though that's a point of impression, you know, it's usually not it's usually a point of backhanded compliment. Your English history was really good. Yeah, that's maybe what they're trying to say.

Naomi:

And I absolutely agree about it being a backhanded compliment. It's, it's really that perpetual foreigner kind of thing. And he said, the influence about that, oh, you actually did kind of Well, yeah, well, actually kind of integrating.

Uzma:

Yeah. Well done for being able to speak the language of the country that you were born. And actually, sometimes, kind of jokingly will be like, yeah, my English is really good. How's your Farsi by the way? How's your Hindi? How is your Punjabi you know, throw a few of those back at them and, and sort of, you know, watch the blankness on their face? How's their Spanish, you know, any language other than English? I know for a lot of people that that hear that statement, English is usually one of a few languages that they're able to speak. So yeah, if I find this one, quite a common question or statement to hear.

Naomi:

So it's absolutely I don't know if you've I I've met I have played along sometimes and sort of gone into a long rant. But yeah, it took me a long time. You can do it.

Uzma:

No, I haven't done that. But I've been tempted in the we'll just move on to the next one quick.

Naomi:

Which is you're good at math, because you're Asian.

Uzma:

So I don't think I've ever been good at math. So it's not a big concern for me, specifically, but I don't know you tell me about your experience. Have you had this one a lot?

Naomi:

Yeah, I think I don't know just I can only speak from obviously an East Asian perspective, but I definitely do i think it's it's very much in East Asia perceptive thing and people. Remember all the time people would be like, oh, but you know, I'm myself. I'm not good at maths. Never have been a math superstar. And the fact that I'm Asian has been bought up a lot and In sort of, oh, how can you not be good at math? You're Asian? genetically, we're just born and we could have you missed out. And I Oh, yeah. And I remember, you know, I told you about the experience before where another Asian person came to our school, and they made a joke. You know, I also wasn't in the further maths group. And they made a joke that I knew I'm Asian, and I'm not in the further maths group. And everybody started laughing, including the teachers. And they all looked at me, because they knew I also wasn't in any, it was just like, why is that? Not? There's no, like, white subject is like, you know, any other, you know, and it's what, why is me not having a skill something referred against my race? It's a very odd thing. And it was specifically maths as well. And it's almost perceived as like, a sort of light hearted joke, or if you aren't good, you know, had actually been good. Yeah. Life, maybe would have been at my success would have been attributed to my race. Yeah, yeah. I think that's a really valid point. Yeah. I think I think that's a It feels like a compliment. But it's not.

Uzma:

I think, one thing I will say about this is that there is definitely within our, our communities a, an expectation that being, you know, good at maths is, is sort of integral to being a good kid. And I do, I do sort of accept that, you know, certainly within the Asian community that there isn't an expectation of your your education being to a certain standard. And, you know, that does come a degree of pressure from our families, from our communities, to excel at things like maths, science and technology. Because, you know, historically, a lot of our our parents and a lot of the people that are giving us that advice, have not had access to some of those opportunities themselves. So, you know, I think that we, as kids have parents that believe in education, generally speaking, not everybody, obviously, but I think there is a degree of extra pressure on us to be good at lots of subjects, math being one of them. And, you know, I think that perhaps feeds into some of the stereotype, I don't know if it was entirely and I've ever really done any great amount of research on that. But I think in some, some capacity, our attitudes towards education, and learning are different. And perhaps that's where some of that, that drive comes from. And that's where perhaps the reason, you know, Asian kids that are good at math is because we have a different attitude towards education. So I think there's a bit of both but to take it, you know, from that all the way through to an assumption that every Asian kid is good at matters is obviously crazy. That's that's not that's not a realistic thing to do.

Naomi:

You make such a good point about the, the sort of a lot of Asian communities have such a high focus on education and race, a lot of a lot of beautiful immigrant families, parents, even their parents had degrees or other things in whichever, you know, homeland, which were not applicable when they came to a new country, and a lot of other things and focusing on education as a part, a path to a more secure life. potentially a lot of stuff is part of it as well. I think that's a good point. Yeah, I just want to move on to the last few ones here.I have to cringe at myself a little bit every time I read these out loud. This one is, I don't know if you've ever experienced this one here. Which is "Don't eat my dog."

Uzma:

So I will say I am also Muslim, and Muslims are not a big fan of dogs, or at least the ones in my circles that are not big fans of dogs. And some Muslims believe that the dogs are not animals that they can have in their house. And so this one has not really affected me too much because most people in the Muslim community are scared of dogs so it's not even a question that they they kind of are dealing with book but like do share what have you have you had this one? A lot of this one that we've kind of had to experience and and how have you dealt with statements like this?

Naomi:

Yeah, thank you again for bringing up about there's a bigger point about different communities and had that before about this communities. You know, a lot of times there's different preferences for pets and different things. I guess you again, potentially this is maybe slightly more aimed at sort of an East Asian focus here is I don't even know how it just became a thing. But yes, there is a festival in China in Beijing, but that is the one city the rest of the country is looking at that city in Thinking, no thanks. For me, and I think I guess the irony is that it's it's almost the way the question is implied. It's almost as if it's, it's seen as the savage thing. Yes, the thing, but, you know, a lot of different countries eat horse, you know, and rabbit and other things, obviously, dogs. Yeah,

Uzma:

I think has a really good point. And I think, again, it's really interesting to have a statement like that kind of thrown at you. Because there's an implication, I can't talk for the specifics of what happened in China, or certain countries that do genuinely enjoy eating, you know, different, different animals. But, you know, you kind of look at if the issue is of animal rights, then. And the concern comes from the perspective of animal rights, then, you know, you've got a question, then some of the practices that happen in the West as well, in terms of caged hens, and like battery, farmed chickens, and all of that sort of stuff, and even the way that cows are bred and, and it's sort of like, Is this an issue of animal rights? Or are you just racist? Or, you know, and when you start to unpick some of the the kind of reasons that a person might ask a question like that, you usually find out that it's nothing to do with the animals welfare itself, it's often masked racism, for the fact that they don't understand enough about a particular culture, or that they look down on particular customs of a culture and, you know, talk from from not direct experience, but certainly, you know, my husband's from Afghanistan, you know, during the time of IID, they will, you know, sacrifice an entire goat, but then eat every part of the goat, including, you know, like, I don't know, if it's me, but hopefully, nobody's gonna be eaten or drink at the same time, but they'll eat every every part of the animal, the eyeballs, the tongue, the brain, everything will be consumed. And that, you know, in theory is much more ethical way of consumption, because you're utilising everything in the animal that you're taking. So I think that there's again, perhaps a degree of hypocrisy when statements like that are thrown around about Oh, you can't eat this animal you shouldn't eat that animals sort of like, well, Where is that coming from? Is that you actually concerned about the the animals welfare, or is this masked as something else? Is there a statement here that you're trying to make, in an assumption like that, and, and I'm a sort of big believer personally, of trying to use the resources that we have in the most efficient way and the most effective way. And if that means you're going to adapt to being able to eat, I don't know, goats brain or chicken brain, for instance, and use the whole part of the animal than I actually know. I'm in favour of that. I think that's a that's a healthy thing, a much healthier thing than eating an animal that's, you know, being caged for its entire life. I would say,

Naomi:

yes, that's obviously a good point about caged hypocrisy. And who's to say what, what practices and you know, can we criticise other parts, you know, aspects of viewing culture? Yeah. 100% 100% we're just two more here. And this one is, I don't know if if you've particularly experienced this at all is, you know, I certainly not directly aimed of me but 100% being an audience to this this exact comment. "Asian guys are not attractive."

Uzma:

Do you think that's aimed more specifically on East Asian men? Or do you think that's sort of South Asian all types of Asian would you say?

Naomi:

I would, again, this is just my own personal note, I've genuinely been heard used. I've heard it be used for all non white men. But I would say that actually, personally, I've heard both South Asian, Southeast Asian and East Asian men. It's common or people saying about those groups of people I don't have all of you this community.

Uzma:

So I've never directly heard that comment. I definitely have heard comments made about communities. And I think I remember seeing something about it Raj from the Big Bang Theory and he the way that he's perceived and portrayed in in that that sort of episode or in that series. You know, he's a sort of like awkward sort of awkward kind of guy that that that doesn't really know what he's doing with like people let alone You know, people from the opposite opposite gender so I think I've seen it I've heard it definitely I obviously massively disagree as a married to one so I'm not ever really heard anybody in my circles openly talk about that being something that's held.

Naomi:

Well that's really great to hear that no one your circles said. That kind of music to my ears. With I guess you Be honest, I don't know if maybe just the circles I've run in, but I've heard a lot. And I'm reasoning of why somebody wouldn't. Somebody from that background, I just, yeah, my heart just sinks when I hear that, and I think it's what was perceived as a non racist thing. Yeah. And it's like, but if you're making a statement about an entire group of people using certain characteristics into a group of people. If you are somebody who's grown up in, let's say, You've grown up in an all area with people with the same race, and you've never met people from that background. Yeah, probably the most people you fancied when you're younger, probably on but you know, we can all be open to things, and I think that discussion of Asian masculinity. And you know, it's definitely improving. Um, we've got Shang-Chi coming out soon, and Kamala Khan, but ideas of like Asian leads, is really becoming a thing that I would definitely say a lot of the times in my life, I've heard people say things like, they'll say that they wouldn't get somebody or that they just don't see them as attractive. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Definitely have had that. Definitely. It's just very sad that there is the field of beauty for men as well. So narrow, and it only contains two kind of looks really? Yeah. Yeah. Sort of lowbrow jokes. On the person 100% a mess with people's self esteem and things like that. 100%.

Uzma:

Don't worry, Naomi is their loss, you know, if they don't find Asian guys attractive. That's, that's their loss.

Naomi:

They will miss out on all the Henry Golding. Fantastic. So the parties will just move on to the last one, which I think is, I don't know about if you've heard this one a lot more recent, I've definitely been hearing this one a lot more recently. Maybe just because I've come up into the world of work, probably didn't have as much of a kid. Which is "Asians don't face any disadvantages, because they're often over represented in management or workplaces."

Uzma:

I can categorically tell you that that is not true. I mean, you know, we're talking about these being assumptions or stereotypes like that is straight up, like not true. It's not a statement that is, I think, backed up in any kind of credible research done. And certainly the companies that I've worked for and worked with, had, that's never been the case. I mean, we definitely have, you know, healthy representation of, of different communities, but very rarely in management, you know, that what tends to happen is, we are over represented in in slightly more junior to mid level positions, and then not represented at all in positions of management. So I, you know, categorically, that's not that is not at all what is happening. And so, yeah, I can't, I don't, I don't know that I have anything else to say about that, other than it's just not true. That comes from,

Naomi:

I think it's kind of, for me, I see it as like, there's probably, you know, one or two Asian managers that make it and then people, the assumption is, well, they've made it, so therefore, it's a fair game for everybody. But it doesn't work like that. It's kind of it reminds me as well about the argument that Asians don't face any disadvantages, because often they are middle class in any way. But actually, when you look at the poverty statistics, 36% of people in poverty are from an Asian background. And then, you know, it's like, I think it's like another 3% from a Caribbean background. It's the idea that Asians have made it in the UK, and they don't face any disadvantages. I think it's completely false here.

Uzma:

I have to laugh, and it's not to devalue the statement. It's just because I can't think of a single instance where that's the case, whether they were an Asian haven't faced any disadvantages, because they're all represented. Often if there are people that are in management and from minority community that they have had to battle like 100 or one extra disadvantages and overcome those, those challenges and those barriers to be in those positions. And sometimes, you know, it does mean that they kind of have loosely held morals that have helped them get there because they've had to compromise on parts of their identity or parts of their beliefs to be able to even be considered, you know, for a seat at that table and, and that's a really kind of quite a sad reality. So yeah, I'm not sure I'm not sure. Myself.

Naomi:

This is a very good point about compromising parts of their personality, because success have been in every single culture and the single background and, you know, you can't, you know, feel so you can't be what you can't see. And then in addition that I think what tends to happening, if one person makes it, they are then framed as like, well, that person made it, or whatever else you didn't need, see, see it is possible. Everybody else who hasn't made it is sort of compared on par with that person. And like I said, but reality is they've probably faced tooth and nail year of disadvantages in that position. And it's just not timing wise, or opportunities wise, available to everyone. But yeah, there we are. So that's the end of our little first segment. And I think that's a good time to take a little pause. So you hear us again, right after the break.

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Naomi:

So we've talked a lot about all the different stereotypes and different harmful assumptions. But when we're talking about Asian Britain, what do you think it means to you then if someone says, you know, British Asian? Hmm.

Uzma:

So I think, actually, initially, the first thing that I think of is the sort of British Asian Asian music scene weirdly enough, I think the straightaway of people like Jay Sean and Richie Rich and some of their kind of like deja vu was like a Hounslow born and bred kind of British agent who, whilst I was growing up, was releasing music, and he was really cool. And he had, you know, like, the cool caps on. And he was doing the rapping thing. And I immediately think of his experience, actually, which is so far removed from, from my experiences as a British Asian, but that's still the kind of the version of the person that I almost go to, I think it's really weird, because both of those terms don't have a sort of set definitions in any real way. I think British and Asian, you know, that there's some degree of like, identification, like, if you look at it from a kind of, I guess, an ID perspective, I think about myself being British and Asian, but I think that that experience is so unique to to my life, that that I can't separate me, from my experiences of being British and my experiences of being Asian, it's just one sort of big blend of an experience, which I refer to as my life. So I think it's a difficult phrase for me to identify in terms of like, what that means to me, because just, that's just my experience, I can't quite like separate, which, which bit of it is, is the British side, necessarily, which bit is the Asian side, I think sometimes, you know, these sorts of labels, make it quite difficult for people to kind of find their identity, because the version of what we believe British to be is, is so sort of separate from the version of what we believe believe Asian to be that the mixed hybrid experience, doesn't have a great deal of off kind of space to sort of exist as, as a hybrid, it sort of usually, like, oh, that person is a bit more British than they are Asian, or that's the British side. And that's the Asian side, when in reality, our life doesn't kind of work that way. We don't have like, three days a week before, and four days a week being Asian, it's just a big, kind of, like hybrid, and I've said hybrid a few times, I appreciate that, but, but that's sort of how I feel. So I think when I think about my personal experience as a British Asian has been, you know, quite sheltered in the context of sort of the Jay Sean's of the world and, and the sort of wrapping music that he was putting out there. And for me, personally, it's meant trying to find some degree of like, psychological safety between my identity as an Asian person and also a Muslim, as well as existing within quote, unquote, those British values that people keep talking about. Nobody really knows exactly what they they mean. I think that, in some ways, I sort of reject both of those labels as as a starting point because I'm just me, you know, I don't have that separation in my own identity.

Naomi:

He brings up such a good point about it's not a dichotomy between being British and being Asian. And you know, I'm sure again, you know, this will go on to more about your experiences being Pakistani and Indian than what they are obviously, for many people, there are different experiences, but for you, it's completely its own separate identity. Mix its own challenges and its own individual experiences, obviously relating to your life. And, you know, when we talk about it as British Asian it, he said, it's almost it's referring a dichotomy, really its entire mixed experience of its own, and coupled with the fact that it's all down to that individual's experiences. You know, there's a lot of mixed British Asians as well. So, you know,

Uzma:

I think I think one of the classic kind of phrases that you often hear in our community is that you're to kind of too Western for the east, and you're to Eastern for the West. And, and that is something that I really, truly have felt, you know, within a lot of my kind of, sort of social circles, there are people and there are instances where I will adopt an almost a different version of myself, depending on the group that I'm with, and then in other instances, adopt a different version of myself then and, and sometimes that almost robs me as an individual have, the opportunity to be my whole self in both scenarios are both kind of communities. And I feel like I am sort of constantly chipping away at parts of myself to fit into that space that I'm in and presenting a different version on myself, because that's what you know, is the kind of cultural norm for that specific conversation. And sort of, you know, make it I think, I think a British Asians or anybody with kind of any sort of mixed heritage. We're really good at chameleon, I think, into the spaces that we're in. And I think that because British Asian are viewed as two separate entities almost, that we're really good at a chameleon into being that British person with, like, a certain perspective of society. Yeah,

Naomi:

I think I think you brought up some really good points about the false dichotomy between the two, and the internal oppression that we place on ourselves to be a certain way in a certain group and to fit a certain traditional model model, whichever model of tradition that is, if we just move on a bit to moment, again, just you know, which comes into this is about what are some of the challenges that you've faced? What growing up, you know, what any big, specifically relating to the label Bush, Asian, with any preconceptions that you had to face? The particular things that people might not think of? Yeah,

Uzma:

so I think I think some of those challenges were were challenges outside of the Asian community, and then some of them were inside of the Asian community. So I think for some context, my parents are from two different countries, my dad is from Pakistan, my mom is from India. And I think one of the kind of initial challenges was, was almost working out what that meant, for me, as a child of both of those countries. And I take, I don't want to take, you know, I don't want it to sound like, you know, the world's smallest violin is playing for somebody from two very similar countries in lots of ways that, in fact, a country that was all one at one point. So I don't think that the differences were so you know, different that that I struggled as, as a child growing up, but I think definitely, parts of me that didn't feel like I understood enough about my Indian side. And there were parts of me that didn't understand enough about my Pakistani side, I definitely had, you know, challenges trying to place myself within some of those sort of different circles, and the culture is different. And the kind of people that I knew were very, very different from both of those countries as well. And then on top of that was the sort of third layer in terms of how to translate that lived experience, to a lot of my non Asian friends, people that I was at school with people that I went to college were people that I worked with, and I think that they had such firm, solid ideas of what, you know, it was like to work, for instance, with an Asian person, that, you know, within a few weeks of meeting some of these people, they're like, you're gonna invite me to your wedding, or you're gonna have a big wedding. I was like, bro, I'm 18 years old, I have no concept of when I want to get married, and if I want to get married, and who are married to, and I think that you do spend, I think any minority spends a fair amount of time in their life trying to kind of dispel some of those those those stereotypes. But I think in a real sort of practical way, some of the challenges that I certainly had was, was trying to find, you know, which part of me identified more with India and which parts of me identified with Pakistan, there was also like immense politics involved with both of those countries. And I had my own perspective on some of those things. And what I ended up kind of doing, I guess, was finding comfort in my identity as a Muslim because I felt that that transcended a country as such it was much more, it was much bigger than I was a kind of way into a community that didn't really care whether I was from India, Pakistan, England, or Brazil. You know, the the kind of religious community or I certainly felt the Muslim community was, was was was much broader than any particular country. And so I think the challenges were multifaceted as they, as they will be, I think there was a degree of kind of questioning of my own identity and, and where I sort of felt I could authentically tell my story from and, and also, to some extent not wanting to glamorise some of those experiences too much. And, and I think, you know, sometimes you're stuck between a bit of a rock and a hard place where you're, you're kind of trying to actively dispel some of the myths that people have about your community. But you also have a responsibility to kind of criticise your own community and, and work with your community to improve some of the issues that you're also experiencing. So I think that I guess if I was to summarise that, I'd say that the challenge that were faced growing up was that wasn't that kind of footprint for me to necessarily follow in terms of, of how I should be and who I should be. Because, because it was such a unique experience, to me growing up, and then you kind of throw in things like Islamophobia into that as well. And, and some of the challenges of being a Muslim visible, hijab wearing woman in Britain at a time where there weren't very many people around. I don't know why, as I say, as though I've been around for like, 60 years, I mean, even in the area that I was in at a school that I went to, I was one of very, very few kind of brown people. So there was a typical challenges of bullying, there's definitely the kind of cliche almost sort of experience of me being like, picked on at school. And, and then I think the way that that kind of landed up into real life was then, sort of consistently being overlooked for for certain roles, sort of being overlooked in in lots of different ways. And, and I think that because of the upbringing that I had, I had a bit of a defiance in me because of the kind of the difference in my parents upbringing. And I think that massively enabled me to overcome some of those challenges by constantly being the minority and constantly feeling like you have to work that little bit harder to be recognised. And I found myself in situations where I was saying yes, to absolutely everything, and anything, for the fear of missing out on those things. Oh, yeah, one of the biggest challenges that I faced growing up was actually, like, people started to identify me as like a talented person, she's gifted, she's got she knows what she wants to say, she knows what she thinks about things. And we're really comfortable then with passing me opportunities that enabled me to talk about some of these issues, like, you know, in, in a private capacity, but also like, publicly, in, in various kind of media outlets, I was on the radio, I was writing for various newspapers, and I really enjoyed that. But I think that I reflect on that, and the impact that that had on me. And what I started to do was, was say yes to everything for the fear of missing out. And then in the process, spreading myself so thinly, and started to kind of position my own identity as as a means to, like support and make people feel comfortable with topics that they didn't quite understand. And I think that when, when, when you are somebody from a minority community that has, you know, an ability to string some sentences together, and it's sort of like, on the money, when, when you do so that you kind of get found, and you bubble up to a position potentially, or a level of status, because you're British, and you're Asian, Muslim, and you've got all of these experiences, and you're also like, able to, like spring, string a sentence together, that you, you know, kind of put onto a pedestal that you may not want to be on and I kind of reflected quite recently on, on how it went from being my job to or rather, how it went from me experiencing these challenges, to articulating these challenges, to then coming up with recommendations on how to fix those challenges. And then also making those light recommendations happen. And that sort of like, become my role now. And I look back on my journey, and I think about how it became my role to go from experiencing it to fixing it. And so the kind of the work that I've had to do in the processes is actually slow myself back down and go, are my needs being met through this particular piece of work. And And if not, then why am I doing it? And I think that that is a quite unique experience to people from minority communities being Asian be that I don't know for from the perspective of gender or sexuality, whatever it is, people from minority communities tend to be much more enthusiastic about saying yes to opportunities, perhaps then put themselves In positions that are actually quite draining, quite exhausting, quite, like emotionally intensive in terms of the Labour that goes into it, and at the end of it getting absolutely nothing out of it. So I've sort of been through a period of growth with that, and I'm getting much better at being able to tell my story on my terms, as opposed to this kind of like assumption that people will make about my British Asian experiencing experience and everything that has come from that.

Naomi:

Thank you for sharing that. I think it's just such an important point. A lot of people face, you know, from all protected characteristics use a gender ability, you know, background is, is the saying yes, and by being alienated Once you are on that pedestal, you know, oh, this person's got something to say. But then it's almost if you don't then create that distance, you know, you're not seen as, as a human that has, limits has, yes, as well has dislikes, likes, yeah, all of those those things. And I think that's one of the fatigue that a lot of people can get, on top of all the other things as well. going on for them. So thank thank you for sharing. I think that's a really important point. Just before we finish now, we'll want to end on a little bit of a little bit of a positive light, should we say is, how do you think these experiences might differ from future generations? You know, what, what changes are you optimistic about?

Uzma:

I absolutely love this question. And the reason that I love it is because I've, I have a little sister, and she's gonna, perhaps blush at the idea of being mentioned. But she's 11 years younger than me, and I have seen her kind of growth over the past 15 years that she's been alive from, you know, birth all the way through to finishing her GCSEs at the moment, and some of the conversations that I have with her and I consider her as a future or somebody from a future generation, the degree to which she understands, you know, some of these issues and the degree to which she is unapologetically herself, is a huge source of inspiration for me, and a huge source of optimism. So I think, and I also on top of that, I'm very blessed with a husband who works in youth work. So I am constantly exposed to the perspectives of young people and, and I'm constantly aware that that young people's voices are absolutely pivotal to the experiences for future generations, and some of the changes that we all look to wanting to build, and I see, you know, young people as being the vehicle to be able to do that. And I think that, in terms of the conversations that I have with her in terms of the the experiences that she's had, versus the ones that I've had growing up, they are already very different, I think social media has, has has absolutely amplified people's awareness about topics that that I had no understanding of at the same age and, and, you know, she won a couple of book vouchers A few years ago, and, you know, went on to Waterstones ordered, ordered his house and books and, and one of them was, you know, a book about why you shouldn't be a feminist and I was like, you're 13 years old? How do you have any awareness of what that word even means? And, and actually, you know, it was quite powerful that, that she didn't necessarily understand everything that she was reading, or necessarily apply anything, everything that she was reading, but actually that the Curiosity was there that that thirst for knowledge and thirst for, there's a better way of doing this was was there and that fills me with huge, huge kind of hope for that for the future. So I think that the kind of shift to, to amplifying young people's perspectives in all of these changes in all of the kinds of conversations that we're having is, is absolutely like fundamental to being able to build a more fairer kind of equitable future going forward. And what's really, really nice about like, looking at it through a young person's perspective is that they have a blank canvas when they come to a lot of these topics. However, when they're presented with the facts and the information, they tend to go towards the thing that makes the most sense, which, which is really interesting, I think, from from for me to kind of witness because I spend a lot of time talking to people that are maybe 30 years older than me, and I are deeply cemented in the views that they already have and deeply kind of rooted already in the kind of beliefs that they have. And I see the the kind of stubbornness that exists within them versus the future generations that come after us. And the difference is absolutely incredible. And, and so yeah, I think I think that the changes specifically that I'm looking forward to are being able to empower young people's voices in as being pivotal to to any discussions about the future, and I think But I feel really genuinely like hopeful that they will be able to carry this in a way that our generation and the generations before us weren't able to do. So.

Naomi:

Yeah, and I absolutely agree with you. It is so amazing. Obviously, there's, you know, there's there's a lot of difficulties, the moment period durations, COVID and things. But I think that one of the things I've been so amazed at is just the difference in experiences and differences in awareness and knowledge. And just even the language that is commonplace. Now, for people to understand, you there was like, I didn't know what it will microaggression was, when I even if I was experiencing, I would never be able to put that into words. But people being open and articulate kind of ironic using them. But being open and sort of focused on these kind of topics, I just think it's absolutely amazing. And I think you bring up such a good point about them being the ones to drive forward. And it's already changing. Yeah.

Uzma:

And I think, you know, in the last 12 months, specifically, as well, I think that the pandemic has sort of like shifted people's understanding of what is possible. And I think, where, where we were sort of consumed with the busy ness of life pre pandemic, the pandemic has sort of forced us all to really slow down and really think about the version of life that we've all been living, and whether that's the version that we want, and I think that that has will create a massive ripple, certainly within future generations, for instance, you know, my youngest sister has been able to work from home for considerable, considerable weeks, like that is a very unique experience to her generation, she started to pick up on habits like checking her emails from teachers, she's 15 years old. That's crazy. That's crazy. And so with a little bit of guidance, a little bit of support, I think that they are in a really like healthy I say they and then future generations to come, are in a really healthy place to be able to absorb some of the learnings from people that have come before us but but actually implement them and actually be really pragmatic about the implementation of some of those changes. And for the first time ever, I'm hearing young people talk about things like a four day work week, I've heard people talk about universal basic income and some of these much bigger kind of social issues that that they're able to kind of tap into now because there's there's just a whole new level of awareness and engagement with these topics. And I think that there's still a risk to some of those conversations, especially for young people being a little bit more vulnerable in terms of their mental health and, and still trying to kind of orientate themselves in the world as this kind of like child that's now emerging into an adult, you know, that's a difficult phase of your life to be in. But, but I think that there's an immense beauty in that journey. And I just really believe in investing in, in young people to make that change with us. As opposed to us making it for them, you know, because we actually, from from like, history, our track record is not so great in terms of improving things for future generations to come. So yeah, I think I'm excited about what they what they'll bring as well, thank you very much for inviting me onto the podcast. I'm definitely a little bit rough around the edges. But I feel very grateful to have a bit of a space to just think about some of these topics. And I think I will say that I think in the in the day to day of life, and then the day to day of kind of working through some of these issues that you sometimes don't take a step back and think about how this feeds into the bigger picture. And were like, what's your story within this? I appreciate the opportunity to be able to sort of think about some of those those questions.

Naomi:

Thank you. Well, I really appreciate you just sharing that with everybody. And I think, you know, as we said before, I loved every single thing you said, I think that it's the kind of moment in these kinds of spaces that really do push the conversation forward. That you know, just take a step back and have a time to think about these and our individual experiences. They help us to, I guess, roadmap to the next space, really. So yeah, thank you so much again for your time. Thank you very much for listening, and I'll catch you in the next podcast.

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