South Asian Heritage Month took place between 18 July and 17 August. It was a time to celebrate and commemorate the South Asian culture and communities that exist within Britain today. Those people and cultures remain among us and it’s no less important to be aware of them, and to respect and celebrate them, during the other eleven months of the year. Which is why we’re still posting about this right at the end of August.
During the month itself, the IP & ME committee wrote about South Asian Heritage Month on their LinkedIn page. We wanted to share their thoughts more widely, so here’s a fuller version of the original post: it recommends some South Asian authors, shows, movies and artists you might like to check out – and of course share with friends and colleagues.
Our thanks to IP & ME committee member Nessa Khandaker (associate at Kirkland & Ellis) for writing the article and sharing it with us here. You can read the original on LinkedIn here – and why not take the opportunity to follow IP & ME while you’re there?
You might also be interested in this post, which we published during South Asian Heritage Month to showcase some popular – and some less well-known – South Asian authors.
South Asian Heritage Month in the UK started on 18 July this year and is coming to a close this week, but we didn’t want to let it pass without a post to commemorate it.
The month aims to transform how people connect with South Asian cultures originating from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, The Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
South Asian and British histories are deeply intertwined; 1 in 20 people in the UK are of South Asian descent but we rarely hear about our contributions to the UK. And yet, we are not equally represented here.
And in our IP community, we are still very much lacking South Asians in senior roles. After all, it’s much harder to be what you can’t see. Of course, what’s important to understand about representation, is that it is in and of itself meaningless unless we actually better circumstances for marginalised groups. To the few of us in this profession, we need to be alive to our positions as inadvertent role models and do our very best to uplift South Asians joining the profession.
This is however a heavy burden. We cannot do this alone. To our allies: elevate our voices, challenge racism in all its forms, engage in media that do not reduce us to caricatures but instead capture the fullness of us as individuals. And be very aware of all the intersections at play – our experiences of colourism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia are all compounded further by our South Asian background.
We want to end this on a celebratory note. We are very much hopeful for the future of South Asian representation. To showcase the full variety of South Asian culture, and in particular the varying experiences of South Asian diaspora, we’d love to recommend some authors, shows, movies and artists worth checking out:
Nikesh Shukla is an award-winning writer and screenwriter and editor of the popular book “The Good Immigrant”, which includes a collection of essays concerning race, racism, immigration, identity written by British writers, poets, journalists and artists identifying as Asian, Black, and other minoritised ethnicities in the UK.
Poorna Bell is an award-winning journalist, author and power lifter who specialises in women’s issues, diversity, fitness and health, including mental health. She has written articles for Stylist magazine, The Times, HuffPost and Grazia, amongst others.
Alok Vaid-Menon is an American writer and performance artist who advocates for LGBTQ+ rights through poetry and fashion. Alok advocates in particular for the safety of trans and gender non-conforming persons from violence and for freedom of expression without being constrained to traditional gendered norms.
Bend it Like Beckham is a British Asian comedy drama that was released in 2002 and remains the highest grossing football film made to date. Directed by Gurinder Chadha, the film tells the story of football-loving Jesminder, daughter of British Indian Sikhs, who balances her sporting aspirations with the expectations of her family.
Miss Marvel is a Marvel mini-series following a Pakistani American superhero called Kamala Khan who protects the streets of Jersey. The mini-series was written by Bisha Ali, a British Pakistani data scientist turned stand-up comedian and screen writer.
Never Have I Ever is a Netflix coming of age comedy drama created by Mindy Kaling. The show follows Devi, an Indian American teen whose father recently passed away, as she navigates school with an aim to improve her social status.
We Are Ladyparts is a British sitcom written and directed by Nida Manzoor that follows an all-female Muslim punk rock band. Although fiction, the show acknowledges/references the presence of Muslim punk musicians currently making music, like The Kominas.
Raveena Aurora is a queer Indian American neo-soul, contemporary R&B, singer songwriter. Her second album “Rush” has been described as “incorporate[ing] spiritual themes with an exploration of her diasporic identity” by Maanya Sachdeva at The Independent, and her latest album “Asha’s Awakening” has been described as “more outward-looking, burrowing into her south Asian roots in bold, fantastical, high-concept fashion” by Tara Joshi at The Guardian.
Joy Crookes is a British Bengali-Irish neo-soul and alternative R&B singer songwriter. In an interview with Arusa Qureshi at Clash Music, Joy describes her debut album “Skin” as being “[…]about identity, and it is as specific and as complex as that. So some of the stories are informed by people that I’m very close to in my life, and some of the stories are informed by my own experience. There’s a longing and there’s a bittersweet nature in the album. And there’s celebration, and there’s reality. It’s a lived experience, it’s my reality, and it’s my identity. And it’s me performing my identity.”
Priya Ragu is a Tamil-Swiss singer songwriter who, in an interview with Clash Music, defines her musical style as “Raguwavy”, defined as a fusion of “Tamil folk, R&B, hip-hop and other sounds that don’t even really fit into a genre”. In response to a question on why representation is so important to her during an interview with NME, Priya replied: “It’s so important because I feel like there should be many more South Asian artists out there doing what I do. There aren’t enough of us, and it shouldn’t be something that we have to accept” and spoke of how relatable and inspiring MIA is to her.
(And check out the BBC Asian Network for more!)
We hope you enjoy some of the above!
#sahm #ourstoriesmatter #southasianheritagemonth