A good article is one that is written with at least a weeks worth of focus on the subject at hand, bruh, I’m going to go ahead and write about something I have acknowledged since 5 years old, so technically this blog will be the shit!!
Let me introduce myself, I’m an Actor, Writer, Rapper turned Spoken Word Artist, why?
Because it’s sexier and means I ain’t got to jack beats or fear a shitty trap beat overpowering my word.
My lyrical content?
Race, religion, spirituality, race, religion, more spirituality, self growth and some politics.
See I believe growing up in the North of England in a working class City called Bradford made me hostile, one could say it even gave me a chip on my shoulder and I wear that chip proud like a badge.
We grew up four siblings in a terrace house in the City.
My neighbourhood, my world, hanging out, teasing the local weirdos, occasionally catching a chase from the older bullies, jumping over walls whilst avoiding the dirty needles, seeing the local drug dealers hard at work, laughing and making jokes about what we thought was ‘sex’, being dragged to the Mosque to recite a language we didn’t understand, oh and Nickelodeon was life.
Now you can probably relate right?
If you grew up working class in Bradford, it’s the same story, don’t take no shit, mind ya business and always keep your guard up.
But I was forced to question many things from an early age, my skin colour was one. I remember the first time I was called a Paki by a White kid. I was 5 years old, this kid had just called me something I didn’t understand, the only way to respond was obviously say ‘NO, you’re a Paki’!
But the teachers reaction when she overheard that shit, I knew this was deeper. But it wasn’t anything new, we had heard stories from Uncles and Parents about the skinheads that roamed our streets in the 70s and 80s looking for Pakistani people to beat up, they had a name for it ‘Paki-bashing’, but what’s in an ‘innocent little word’ huh?
2 years later walking home from school with my Mum and Auntie and there it was, I heard it again. This time it was some dirty old White men at the local Pub ‘Fuck off you Black Bastards, Fucking Pakis go home’ they jeered in their drunken mess.
I remember my Mum bravely telling these so called Men to ‘go fuck themselves’, middle fingers up, a Strong woman with little tolerance or patience for bullshit, more on her later.
But it didn’t stop there, every now and then I was reminded even in a predominant South Asian neighbourhood where people looked like me, ignorance raised its head and there I would hear that word, followed by more ignorant shit.
I remember the murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence in London in 1993. I remember as a kid, feeling hurt, angry, they killed him because he was of a different skin tone, his family had origins elsewhere like mine so they killed him, cowards!
But it wasn’t a simple arrest, these sick bastards got a trial to prove their innocence and everything, political? Yup!
Every time I opened a newspaper or heard about people of colour in England being attacked, hearing those words in my head ‘Paki’ ‘Black Bastards’, it would make my blood boil, now it was beginning to make me an angry kid, angry at the state of affairs, angry at White people.
First day of high school, there it was again, now in a predominant White body setting, I heard it, I dunno, at least 5 times a day!
I started reading about what race was, what did all this shit mean, what is Black?
The only word I could compare ‘Paki’ to was ‘N****r’ but many claimed that it was different, Paki was just short for Pakistan surely? Or so the White kids in school moaned as they tried to reason with me about the use of a derogative against people of my origins.
See the ‘N’ word is a variation of the word ‘negro’ meaning black in Spanish, it came from a non derogatory nature.
However it also serves as a prime example of how a ‘variation’ or the shortening of a word can be problematic, so no, I’m sorry I don’t buy the ‘it’s short for Pakistan’ bullshit, especially when we look at the history behind the words usage in England starting around the 60s, more on this next time I promise!
I soon came across the autobiography of the late Great Malik El Shabbaz and got to know him as Malcolm Little, Detroit Red and later Malcolm X.
I started educating myself at an early age, equipping myself with knowledge and the words of a Man who had it much worse than me, living at a time of real hardship, but he persevered.
I observed him, his life, I respected him, wished I had met him when he was alive.
What would he recommend I do? Should I trust White people?
By now Hip Hop was a major part of my life, I used writing raps to unleash my anger, my stress, I remember my earliest lyrical content, a mixture of unnecessary expletives mixed with a real disdain for White people, especially figures of authority.
My excuse was plain, you guys don’t like us, so fuck you too, I was really mad.
In High School I encountered ignorance not only from the students but racist teachers, the indirect insults, the mocking and the disrespect, one teacher even told me to grow my hair back because my ‘skinhead’ look was intimidating the White students! Wait what?
I was officially the angry, intimidating Asian kid!
And then in 2001 of course we had the Summer of Race riots up and down the North of UK in predominant Pakistani and Bangladeshi towns, a response to the racist EDL marches through our hometowns again protesting against the presence of my people. I remember standing in the middle of my city depicting a warzone, this didn’t look like the Bradford I knew.
Cops on horseback launching at people, youths throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, torched cars and businesses. But it gave me a sense of pride, amidst the looting and criminal behaviour I finally felt like I knew what Malcolm X meant when he said “by any means necessary”. Fascists had tried to march into our hometowns and we weren’t having none of it and this wasn’t even the first Race riot in Bradford, 1995 we rioted against Police brutality in the city.
See race politics isn’t a topic of conversation for me, nor is it my excuse to play a victim or ‘play the race card’ (does anybody know what the FUCK a race card is or where I can get one?)
Race politics is what we people of colour LIVE, BREATHE AND FEEL!
My skin colour, my identity, my appearance itself in this current climate and society of modern day England IS Political.
Sound crazy? I would love for someone to tell me otherwise.
So No, I cannot and will not place my identity in a little box and lock it away so we can ignore the obvious.
No I will not remove the badge of my shoulder, the chip I wear with Pride, the chip that says ‘We’re cool, but DON’T fuck with me on this subject or You will know’
I end this with a quote from one of my Heroes;
“Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.”
It’s been real, until next time…
I AM Bradford -.