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tv   Being British Bangladeshi  BBC News  July 31, 2021 8:30pm-9:00pm BST

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hello, this is bbc news. i'm james reynolds. the headlines: super saturday comes round again. kicked off with a gold, and a world record in the 4—by—100 metres mixed medley final.
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and continued in the triathlon mixed relay event — a first gold medal for jonny brownlee at his third and final olympic games. victory for elaine thompson—herah of jamaica in the women's 100—metres final in tokyo and heartbreak for dina asher—smith from the uk who missed the final through injury. in other news — afghan security forces have been battling to defend three key cities from advances by the taliban. medical experts are warning that an oxygen monitoring device, called a pulse oximeter, works less well for people with darker skin tones. and borisjohnson and his wife carrie have announced they're expecting a second child. their son wilfred was born in april last year. now on bbc news, ali official is one of the uk's top british—bangladeshi comedians. in this film, he has some difficult, insightful and hilarious conversations about being british—bangladeshi.
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i'm ali shahalom, also known as ali official, and i'm a comedian. no, no, man, just chilling. just filming this thing for the bbc. yeah, bangali british corporation and that. white people get degrees to getjobs, right? asian people get degrees to get married. laughter. one of the easiest ways for me to show love is just by bringing mangoes home. yeah, just bring mangoes, you know, and i come home, bring the mango box, shout, "hey, rukhsana, i've got mangoes." if that's not love, i don't know what love is. there are around half a million people of british—bangladeshi ethnicity in the uk, and i am one of them. but, honestly, sometimes i feel like we're forgotten about. i remember growing up. it sounds funny when i say it now, but... ..every now and then on a game
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show you'd have, like, a brown person come on. and that was a moment for my family. we were like, "come, come, come, there's like some indian guy on here," you know. all i remember now is he was just brown. that was good enough for us, right? ifeel like being bengali and bangladeshi, it's almost seen as at the bottom. we're like a minority within a minority. being a bangladeshi woman, that stopped me achieving certain things. we as a community forget the power we have. in the year when bangladesh turns 50 years old, i'm going to show you what it means to be british—bangladeshi in 2021. look here with ali official. let's go! and how the young generation of british—bangladeshis are changing things up. yeah, moments like that make me feel, like, "ok, ali, maybe you're doing something right. maybe you're doing something right."
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typically, when people think of british—bangladeshis, they may think of, like, east london or tower hamlets or that brick lane street. not for me. you know, i grew up in an area in the county of devon... ..one of the whitest parts of england. look, i live right outside of this river, i've got views. there's a super pool. they trying to, like, push into me. oi, no! to a lot of my white friends, i was actually the only brown person they had ever met in their entire life, right? it got so bad that once my cousin came to visit me in town, my white friends got me and my cousin mixed up. me and my cousin look nothing like each other. number one, my cousin is shorter than me. numbertwo, i have a beard, and my cousin doesn't. and number three, my name is
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ali, and she's called fatima. i remember this one kid, we used to go forjogs in the park, and we werejogging, we were jogging, jogging, jogging and, i kid you not, this is absolute truth, he said, "when i first met you, i thought you were a terrorist." wait, what?! he said, "i don't know, man, like, you're the only asian dude i know. the only other asians i've seen have been on the news... ..and they're terrorists. if i hadn't met you... ..i wouldn't have known, like... ..you were just a normal kid. like, your family's just normal." from a very early age, i had to almost be an ambassador for this entire demographic without even realising it. tv: workers in dakar shout for official independence i for east pakistan.
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50 years ago this year, back in 1971, bangladesh became a new country. tv: many of these people have spent most of the past - nine months running away from somebody who wanted to kill them. it was a painful road to independence. tv: the new flag of bangladesh, a state of bengal. _ i've never seen this footage. bangladesh! my dad migrated from bangladesh to england in the 19705... ..to a land in which he did not know the language of, he didn't know anyone there. he came in the hope and in the pursuit of a better life. tv: there's an estimated 50,000 bangladeshis in london, - many of them living in brick lane. i'm not going to lie, a lot of those haircuts still exist amongst bengali uncles. the immigrant dream,
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i think, for a lot of people is to have your own business. so, my dad, he was a chef. he was an incredible chef, still is. my dad saved, saved, saved, saved. there was a restaurant in devon that someone was selling, and my dad was like, "this could be my opportunity to have my own business." you know, that was the only indian restaurant in my little town. and, of course, white people love curry. so, you know, my dad made a really good decision. we'd make one annual trip to london from devon, and you felt a real sense of culture in brick lane. as a family, we'd come here and fill our boots up with meat and chicken and halal groceries. and obviously we'd go into one of these indian restaurants, have a meal then go back home. and that was like a great day out. over 80% of indian restaurants in the uk are run by bangladeshis. many of them here on brick lane.
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abdul arrived in brick lane in the 19705 and grew up around here. he's owned this restaurant since 2012... so, this is city spice. we're known as the king of brick lane. ..and his son niaz, who's 20, helps him run it. 2012, what was brick lane like back then? it was amazing. it was like a market day every day of the week. hundreds and hundreds of people walking around, drinking, eating. every single shop on this road was a restaurant. more than 60—odd restaurants, and every single one was packed. back in the �*70s, when i started off, it was all have a couple of pints, go out the pub and have a vindaloo. the �*70s and �*80s, you grew up in east london. report: brick lane, in - the heart of london's east end. the bengalis, the latest. in a long line of immigrant communities to settle here, found themselves the - victims of intimidation, |
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harassment and hatred. what were those experiences like? i was well—prepared. i mean, i was rough and ready, you've got to be rough and ready to be brought up. my generation has no idea what that was like. we used to get picked on for the way we dressed, the way we smell, you know, the colour we looked. the bengalis, who organised the weekend's sit—down - in brick lane, the usual sunday haunt of national— front supporters... we fought back, we used to get called names, we called them back. if we just sat down and took it, if we don't retaliate, then they'll make a habit of it. we used to live on the bottom of the street. and our neighbour... my mum used to cook food, and he used to complain that we smelled of onions. but we left the area, he would eat curry every day, he'd come and knock on my mum's door. we couldn't get a job anywhere, them days, you know, so we created our own industry. we created our own product that we could sell to make a living out of it. that's how i see it.
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today, we're at altab ali park, which is a park in memory of altab ali, who was a bangladeshi man murdered by three racist individuals back in 1978. the british bangladeshi community ended up protesting in thousands. it's through the sacrifices and perseverance of the older generation that we can...not live perfect lives, but live a much more comfortable life. altab ali park is in the east london constituency of bethnal green and bow, an area represented by mp rushanara ali. she was the first ever british bangladeshi mp elected to the uk parliament. when political leaders amplify tensions, when they fail to show courage and leadership and stand up in the face of division and hatred,
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then we send the wrong message. you made history when you became the first british bangladeshi mp. how did yourfamily take that decision? they were quite nervous, if i'm honest, because nobody had done it before. they could see that it was not going to be an easyjourney. and they were right, of course. when i won the election, what was really obvious was that it had a huge significance to the british bangladeshi community, particularly my mum and dads generation. they often would say, "now we feel like we belong "because we have somebody who's, you know, one of our daughters "in the mother of parliaments," and they would talk like that. week in, week out, my constituents have been mourning the loss of loved ones. british bangladeshis are twice as likely to die from covid—19 than the white
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british population. the covid—19 pandemic has hit our community really hard. so many of us have lost loved ones, have lost friends. it is partly down to health inequalities. we live in more overcrowded conditions here in areas like this. we've got a higher prevalence of people who are in front—line jobs. we've got to learn from this. to the next boy or girl who wants to get into politics, what words would you give them? i grew up having impostor syndrome. yeah, yeah, yeah. you often feel like you don't belong. what i would say to the younger generation watching this is — charge ahead. don't waste too much time having self—doubt and beating yourself up. it's about seizing the life that you have. that's all you can do. the next person i want to speak to has struggled with impostor syndrome and anxiety. but she's had huge success in bringing her mix of
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britishness and bangladeshiness to primetime tv. assalaamu alaikum, nadiya. wa—alaikum—salaam. how are you? in 2015, nadiya hussain won the sixth series of the great british bake off. lam never, ever going to put boundaries on myself ever again. i'm never going to say i can't do it. i'm never going to say maybe. i'm never going to say i don't think i can. i can, and i will. since then, she's been named one of the most influential people in the uk, and she's certainly one of the country's best—known british bangladeshis. that actually happened! yeah. i met the queen! it's nadiya hussain. you are an example of what i think is someone who, incidentally, now happens to be bangladeshi. so, i'm a firm believer that as a bangladeshi and a british,
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i'll take the good bits from this bit and i'll take the good bits from that bit. i believe that we firmly, happily live in that grey area. i'm proud to say that i mix up my britishness and my bangladeshiness and put it all together in cookbooks that people actually really like. it's taken me a very long time to accept that middle place. you know, i've always felt i'm too haram to be halal, too halal to be haram, too white to be brown, too brown to be white. you know, all of these, like, contradictions. i'm not going to lie for a second and tell you that there are times where i've wanted to bleach the brown out of me because life would have been so much easier if i wasn't brown, if i wasn't bangladeshi, if i could just be like everybody else. i come with all of those layers that i do represent, and i understand the importance of that now. if you and me were talking five years ago, i would have said, "let's talk about baking." now, it's far more important for me to talk about
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representation as much as it is about baking cakes. even i, even on this platform, i forget sometimes that i'm actually quite good at what i do, and that's because we were raised to always be very humble. we were always raised to stay quiet, know your place, to be grateful. i remember my gran always saying, "be grateful, you're in their country, be grateful." and to be honest, you know what, nan? i am grateful, but i can also be great. you know, i can also be great. i'm excited today, looking forward to speaking to my peers. ey—oh. what up, my gushti? it's your boy, smash bengali. excuse me? hello, everybody listening? i would just like to say, today... hey, guys! hey...hey, guys. higher pitched: hey, guys. lower pitched: hey, guys. because of the pandemic, we couldn't all meet in person, and getting four comedians to join a zoom call at the same time is easier said than done. yo, iksy, can you hear me, bro? oh, yeah. yeah.
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i see you. oh, that's a very nice set—up. i'm in the car. quick round, quick round. describe bengali culture in one word. my dad's lungi. that blue one with the stripes, innit? hutki. you cannot forget this. i uploaded a tiktok video of my mum trying to make hutki. it is such a beautiful day. you know, sun is shining. it's warm. white people, black people, they probably would have a barbecue in this weather. what do bengali people do? we make hutki on a mattress in our garden. what's the weirdest thing a non—bengali has said to you about being bengali? you don't look bengali. that always annoys me so much. i so hate that. get it all the time. what's the weirdest bengali superstition you've ever heard? when you step over someone, you stunt their growth. you know, people always say that to me. people say that happened to me because, like, i'm five foot seven. i'm five 11, so no—one
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stepped over me, innit? man sings in bengali. i'm out here today on ladypool road. one thing, if you know ladypool road well, there is always someone parked on the double yellow everywhere. just. . .just double yellow, double yellow, double... and, yeah, no—one gives a crap. so, if you're known i as a bengali creator, you're not really- taken that seriously, if that makes sense. 100%. you're almost underestimated in comparison to, like, an indian creator or a pakistani creator. ifeel like being bengali and bangladeshi is almost seen as at the bottom. and then you've got, like, all the other south asian races at the top. so, it kind of mentally messes you up. you know, there's a lot of racial tension amongst us asians, right? like between indians, between pakistanis, between bengalis. let me tell you something right now — white people don't know the difference between any of us. laughter and applause. you know, british bangladeshis, we're like a minority
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within a minority. "oh, yeah. you're bengali," you know? "we'll make a joke about you guys. yeah, all you do is eat fish, right? oh, you're bengali, right?" you know? "you lot are all short, right?" you'd have to ask a pakistani oran indian, like, "yo, why are you guys picking on these bengalis, man?" but you definitely feel it. you definitely feel it. of course, no—one wants to be just the butt of the joke. # you don't love me no more...# one person who has broken down lots of stereotypes in his career is mumzy stranger, one of the best known british bangladeshi music artists. i don't know if you're aware, like, how proud we are to see one of our own up there. # ishq da rog bura # tainu lag jaave na...# it's a strange feeling because, for me, i've always felt like i'm not going to be here, you know, it's like... what do you mean by that? because i'm a british—born bangladeshi, you know, when i started music, it wasn't like...
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it wasn't normal. i'm like the alien in the family. everyone's normal, doing normal things. and for me, it was like, "how do i turn up the music really loud in the house without getting in trouble?" # your body's like a drug to me, let me tell you now # give me your hand and let me show you something magical, girl...# a, there's our own community that might hold some sort ofjudgment, like, "who is he? what is he doing?" b, there's the other south asian counterparts. like, "i'm not used to seeing a bengali guy doing this." and then there's the industry, there's the white man, there's the system. there's so many hurdles. for me, there wasn't a bengali man who reached out and said to me, "yo, get into the music industry." i was waiting for a bengali man to do it. it's just there wasn't one. so, rishi rich, he's the one who gave me a helping hand in 2005. what is he? let me state, he's indian. and i'll give credit where it's due. i'm aware that many musicians, they would hide the fact that they're bengali, or they would just outright deny it.
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why do you think certain people feel the need to do that? you know what? that's one thing i couldn't understand. i felt alone, because there was others who were hiding it. but for me, i was like, "no, man, i can't do this. "i'm going to tell people where i'm from." and forget that, i couldn't even hide where i'm from. because then you could tell i was bangladeshi because i had a side parting from here to east london. ali laughs. man: ali official! hey, man, you good? man shouts indistinct greeting. you all right, yeah? i'm good, man. what's your name, man? wahid. what you doing here, my bro? just filming something for the bbc. let me take a picture. what's up, my skitz family? it's your boy bengali skitz here, back again with another video. look who i'm here with, ali official. let's go! my man, my man. watch his stuff! thank you, bro, i really appreciate it. bro, you know, cos of you, i started doing tiktok. bro, that makes me so happy to hear, honestly. honestly, man. aight, my bro.
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you take care of yourself. shout out to bbc and everyone. hey, you, man. you, man. moments like that make me feel like, "ok, ali, maybe you're doing something right. maybe you're doing something right." bengali parents operate differently. their...proudness isn't always shown verbally, you know? it might be like, "ok," you know, "have an extra piece of chicken." exaggerated accent: who's my favourite child? they're all useless! i'm jokesing. no, no, no, i...i love both of my children equally, yes. what do you mean i have three children? what? oh, yes. yes, the middle one. i realised that no matter how old i get, all my mum wants to know is have i ate? and she's the only person that's going to do that. say a bangladeshi is watching this right now, what strategy or gems have you figured over the last six years that you think can help someone? not listen to your parents.
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no, i didn't say that, i'm so bad! all bengali parents are going to hate me. don't listen to your parents. don't listen to them. do you ever get them asking you when you're getting a real job? yeah, all of that. what, you get that? no way. yeah, course. no way! yeah. you know, when i was 18, i got into university, really excited, first girl, first person in ourfamily to get into university. and my mum point blank said, "absolutely no way are you going to university." and that for me, as an 18—year—old, was really difficult to stomach. i remember being really upset at the time. but, you know, like, if i look back now and i, and i ask myself why my mum didn't let me go to university and why my dad never... like, wasn't the one to say, "go on, just go, i'll sort your mum out, it'll be fine," was because they were scared. you're always tweaking your relationship between... ..the generation you're in and the generation that got you here. i think that my dad's generation, they did whatever they had to to get by. theyjust wanted to survive.
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i don't just want to survive. i want to live. back in devon, when i was younger, i used to help my dad at his indian take—out, and i made one of my early youtube videos about it. this is our storeroom. that's the tandoori oven, got some pilau rice cooking up in there. less and less young bengalis are getting into the restaurant trade now, and the number of curry houses on brick lane has decreased by over 60% in the past 15 years. rising rents, gentrification and lack of staffing are just some of the reasons. but niaz is bucking that trend, and he wants to modernise the curry industry. at the age of 14, i knew that he has more ideas than i do. things that he knows, i would never have dreamed of. is there this perception that, "oh, you know what, you're british—born, you're young. why are you getting into the restaurant trade?" i get asked that all the time, because... how does that make you feel?
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i want to live my whole life doing what i want to do, what other people say is regardless. that's one thing about being british, isn't it, not about being bangladeshi, you don't really care about what other people think. the restaurant industry will change. it won't be all ruby murray's curry houses, you know, pint of beers and everything. and you can see, for example, with customers asking for more inherently bengali dishes. we sell fish. do you guys get certain woke customers asking for staff curry, which is like the stuff that's not on the menu. yeah. yeah, we get that, too. back when i was in school, when i left school, we made the curries to the food industry, adapted to them. yeah, to their tongues and... the masalas and... and now we... they're adapting to our food. yeah! do you get my point? 100%. and i think that is a masterful touch. they love it. we, as a community, forget the power we have. our dads came to this country, and they didn't even
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speak the language. they gave birth to a completely different industry. we're smart people, we're creative people. what does it mean to be a british bangladeshi? for me, it's supporting england in football and bangladesh in cricket. it's speaking bangla and english in the exact same sentence. it's eating rice and curry for mains and british chocolates for dessert. it's having a shopping list that starts with milk and bread and ends with bhang and naga chillies. it's putting my playlist on shuffle, appreciating both asian and western music. it's having a nine—to—fivejob on weekdays and helping the family business on weekends. it's going to a bengali wedding in the day and watching eastenders in the evening. it's seeing my mum in salwar kameez and a cardigan and my dad in a shirt and lungi.
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it's being called bangladeshi in britain, and british in bangladesh. it's about enjoying both worlds and not having to pick. and it's not knowing what to say when a white person asks me where i'm from. hello there. lighter winds today but there has been quite a lot of cloud around and some nuisance showers as well. some of those showers have been heavy and thundery. take a look at this pretty threatening—looking weather watcher
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picture from loose in kent that was sent in earlier on. now, if we take a look at the satellite picture, you can see the amount of cloud around. the brighter white, that's storm evert that's now in scandinavia. so we have seen some cloud sitting across the country, the best of any breaks has been through eastern areas. but you can see that real cluster of sharp showers that's developed through the course of the afternoon, stretching across south wales, central and southern england, with one or two rumbles of thunder mixed in there as well. also been a few nuisance showers to the east of the pennines, too. now, over the next few hours, those showers should start to ease down just a touch. and as they continue to clear away through the night, we will see the cloud breaking up in places. so it'll be a quiet night to come. it'll be a slightly cooler one in scotland, particularly in sheltered rural areas, with a few scattered showers in the far north. here, overnight lows generally of 9—11; degrees. so, we're going to start off tomorrow morning on a quiet note once again. this nuisance weather front still to clear away and it is going to produce
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the threat of more sharp, thundery downpours across southern fringes of england as we go through the afternoon. so, sunday will start off relatively quietly, with a few isolated showers across scotland and northern ireland but generally in the way more drier weather. a line of showers will push their way steadily southwards into the afternoon. and, again, they'll be hit and miss, but we can't rule out the odd rumble of thunder mixed in there as well. top temperatures of 21 degrees, but noticeably cooler further north. 12-17. a week ago, we had temperatures into the high 20s. it does look likely that it'll be a relatively quiet start for our new working week but, unfortunately, the story becomes a little more complicated. if we take a look at the detail as to why that's going to happen, we see this brief ridge of high pressure building in from monday into tuesday. but then, from wednesday onwards, this weather front is going to start to bring the threat of more outbreaks of rain and those areas of low pressure will continue to move in towards the end of the week. so, drier to start,
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yes, but a little bit cooler than it has been. more wind and rain later on in the week. take care.
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this is bbc news — with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. i'm geeta guru—murthy. fierce fighting in afghanistan — three afghan cities are battling the taliban. the taliban already control vast swathes of rural territory in afghanistan, now they are really pushing in on a number of cities, and advancing right to the heart of lashkar gah, capital of helmand province. more than a dozen aid trucks have reached the capital of ethiopia's war—torn tigray region. and several wildfires sweep through turkey — affecting tourist areas on its aegean and mediterranean coasts. borisjohnson and his wife, carrie, have announced
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they are expecting a second child. their first child, wilfred, was born in april last year.

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