Earlier this week, Bunty and I had the pleasure of going along to a wonderful and lively discussion at Asia House about stereotypes in Asian literature.
The panel was formed of leading figures in the creative arts: Yasmeen Khan (writer and broadcaster and shoe-horned to unofficial BBC Representative for the evening!), Daniel York (actor, director and writer), Anna Chen (first British Chinese comic to take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival), Niven Govinden (author) and Bidisha (author, journalist, broadcaster and Booker Prize Foundation trustee) who was the delightful chair for the evening’s enthralling discussion.
A capacity audience listened intently to the questions, answers and anecdotal experiences giving an insight into a world that many of us are not part of but consume with fervour! I don’t watch Eastenders but it was interesting to note that the producers of the programme consult Yasmeen Khan when necessary for their storyline. Yasmeen also spoke of her frustration at being forced to represent ‘her community’ time and again when we know that ethnic communities are diverse and it is not possible for one person to represent millions of people and often conflicting interests. She unfortunately received the brunt of other panel members’ frustration towards the BBC’s stereotypical representation of Asians…poor Yasmin!
Daniel and Anna observed that in their opinion many in positions of power in the media were racist and if we will not act together to change and complain about their behaviour representation of Asians and ethnic minorities will stay the same.
Niven Govinden felt that the creative industries had to work harder to inspire and recruit young people and new graduates into the arts.
I feel that, whilst the Goodness Gracious Me gang did an amazing job to expose the South Asian community and allow us to laugh at ourselves, they have monopolised the BBC budget for new ethnic minority programming and their narrative is increasingly boring, negative and irrelevant.
I am third generation British and my experience of family and life in Britain must be worlds apart from Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar’s as I don’t understand their continued stereotyping of families in the 1970s/80s in the recent Kumars at No 42 aired earlier this year. But they must be a safe bet as commissioners seem not to want to give a chance to new talent which is just such a pity.
Bravo, Asia House for another delightful evening! Do check their website for more events such as this.