As a South Asian growing up in the UK, being brown was never cool; in fact, it was something to be ashamed of. Our portrayals on TV and film were always tokenising and perpetuated stereotypes; we were never seen in adverts or modelling in fashion publications. This gave me a warped sense of belonging; a belief that, in order to be appreciated in the arts, we had to be ridiculed.
Establishing yourself as a brown person in the west, not to mention a creative brown person, is difficult, to say the least. From a young age, our parents would have our future lives planned out: take academic subjects at school, study hard, become a doctor or lawyer, and then get married. Taking up the arts isn’t seen as a proper career path, so it’s not an option. Then there’s the problem of brown people being accepted into these spaces – we’re not exactly meant to be there. As Nikesh Shukla writes in Brown Baby: “White is default and because that default is pernicious in its execution, especially in terms of who it others, it becomes a standard that you always have to be in the opposition to.” The absence of brown people in the industry can be draining, as you always feel the need to prove yourself even more.