The presence of South Asian characters in British theatre is not the extreme rarity it once was. Whilst South Asians and people of colour more widely are still hugely underrepresented in theatre – as actors, writers, directors and in storylines – there has undoubtedly been some progress in recent years. What remains less visible, however, is South Asian characters engaging in rich discussions of history in all its complexity, from a questioning, left-wing perspective. If this is not for you, you should probably avoid playwright and Momentum activist Sonali Bhattacharyya’s Two Billion Beats, showing now at London’s Orange Tree Theatre.
TW: Mental health, racialised violence, racism
The first session at the psychotherapist is always tough. Your psychiatrist is a lanky white man presumably in his 50s. There’s a mosaic of framed medical certificates hanging behind his desk. You’re an 18-year old brown-skinned boy slumped back on this armchair that’s supposed to feel comfortable, but really the fake leather sticks coldly against your sweaty back. He asks about various aspects of your life to get a better evaluation: family history, school, suicide, self-harm, homelessness. He tries to sound nice—this condescendingly sweet falsetto undermined by the mechanical typing in of your diagnosis. Every time you spill yourself, you feel the room closing in.
by Emmanuel Agu
Content warning: mass shooting, homophobia, mental health
In the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting, myself members of queer societies and wider society are yet again pulled into self-reflection in this time of despair. The tragedy stands as a solid reminder that those who live queer lives are aberrant; there are those who can never accept us — our death is the only thing that can appease them. A solid reminder that when these atrocities strike our communities — those who are struck hardest will be the queer people of colour, our trans siblings and disabled siblings. It was a solid reminder of the extent of homophobia within our society leads to; whilst simultaneously exposing the exclusion of faith within our spaces of activism and self-organization. It is entirely uplifting to see people from across the world and many facets of society declare their solidarity following #weareorlando trend; I am filled with pride and affirmation that the life style myself and my kinfolk live are valid, we deserve recognition, we deserve to be able to celebrate our cultures — to simply exist, without fear of decimation and harm.
I do not mean to detract from these displays of solidarity, but it is necessary to also ask one another to what extent are we responsible for the development of Omar Mateen?
Content warning: mentions racism, homophobia, suicide, arson, massacre, mental health
On June 12th 2016, a mass shooting happened at Pulse, gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, USA. 49 people were killed and 52 injured, mostly of Latinx descent. Across the world, lgbtQ+ communities and allies have been organising vigils and other events to express support and condolences.
‘Look, you don’t understand this because you’re not gay,’ Owen Jones said, before storming out of a Sky News debate on the massacre, after the two presenters refused to see the incident in a lgbtQ+ context.
Throughout my two, soon to be three, years at UEA I have not only witnessed racial discrimination but have also been a victim to it; everything from casual uses of racial slurs to instances of fetishes and exoticism. It may come as a surprise to some, but not once have I felt that the union has provided an opportunity, be it caucuses or panels to discuss the safety of ethnic students, unless pressured by activist groups or even the media. As October and Black History Month ends, I thought it would serve me and perhaps some other people of colour (POC) well, to reflect on how racial issues, in particular; the experience of black or brown students are often overlooked, diminished, or outright rejected, unless given a socially acceptable platform such as Black History Month or student elections.