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tv   Being British Bangladeshi  BBC News  July 31, 2021 12:30am-1:01am BST

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this is bbc news. the headlines — the usjustice department has ruled that the tax returns of former president donald trump must be handed over to a congressional committee. unlike other recent presidents, mr trump had resisted the demand that he surrender his tax records, and the justice department had backed him while he was in office. covid—19 has critically affected pregnant women in brazil, with more than 1600 deaths. one in five women that died from the virus didn't have access to an intensive care unit, and one in three didn't have access to a ventilator. at the olympic games in tokyo, it's super saturday. the women's 100—metres final, as well as the women's tennis final, are among the highlights coming up on day eight. the triathlon�*s mixed relay is also making its olympic debut. all the details on our website.
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ali official is one of the uk's top comedians. in this film, he has some difficult and insightful conversations about being british—bangladeshi. 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.
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i remember growing up. it sounds funny when i say it now, but... ..every now and then on a game 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
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something right." 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, but my friends got me and my cousin mixed up.
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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 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. ..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.
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tv: workers in dakar shout for official independence i for east pakistan. 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 1970s... ..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
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lane. i'm not going to lie, a lot of those haircuts still exist among bengali uncles. the immigrant dream, 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.
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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. abdul arrived in brick lane in the 1970s 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.
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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, | harassment and hatred. what were those experiences like? i was well—prepared. i mean, i was rough and ready, you 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 we smelled of onions. but we left the area. he would eat curry every day, he'd come
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and knock on my mum's door. we couldn't get a job anywhere, them days, you know, so we created our industry. we created our own product that we could sell to make a living out of it. that's how i see it. 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.
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when political leaders amplify tensions, when they fail to show courage and leadership and stand up in the face of division and hatred, 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
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constituents have been mourning the loss of loved ones. british bangladeshis are twice as likely to die from covid—19 than the white 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. 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.
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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 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.
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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, 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
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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 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.
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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. 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?
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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 stepped over me, innit? man sings in bengali. i'm out here today on ladypool road. one thing, if you know ladypool road well, 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
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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 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?" 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
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# 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... 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.
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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 will 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. 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
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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. 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.
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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. 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 asked 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
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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. 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.
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things that he knows, i would never have dreamed of. is there this perception that, "oh, you know what, 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? 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.
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we as a community forget the power we have. our dads came to this country and they didn't even 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.
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it's having a 9—to—5job 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. 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.
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well, friday brought quite a nasty spell of weather to some south—western and southern areas of the uk. gale—force winds around coasts briefly. they were very, very strong indeed, brought by storm evert. you can see on the satellite picture here thunderstorms and heavy showers inland, generally a really changeable day, but the weather has now shifted into the southern north sea. it's approaching parts of germany and denmark. behind it, you can see from the motion of the arrows, it's a fairly cool north—northwesterly, so it's going to be a fairly cool day for most of us. really quite nippy, in fact, in the very far north of the country. sunny spells and showers expected. so, let's have a look at the early morning hours. that northerly wind blowing across scotland and along the north sea coast. showers there right from the word go, but i think showers are possible almost anywhere early in the morning, apart from the extreme north west of the country here. temperatures a little on the fresh side, around 12—13 degrees in some spots.
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and then, tomorrow, a pretty cloudy day for many of us, in the morning at least, to start with. then the sunny spells develop, but also the showers, and some of them will be heavy. you can see here in the east of the country and the north, some thunderstorms there, too. showers also breaking out across the south. the best of the weather, i suspect, in the north west of the country, parts of northern ireland, south—western and western scotland and also cornwall, devon and southern wales shouldn't do too bad on saturday. here's a look at sunday's weather map. the weather still coming in from the north. we have a weather front crossing the country. that is expected to bring showers to more southern areas of the uk on sunday. they should be more confined towards the very far south towards the end of the day. that's how the end of the day starts, so a little on the chilly side in some areas. those northerly winds, feels quite nippy along the north sea coast, could even be around 111—15 degrees during the daytime. best spots, i think, in southern wales, maybe northern ireland again, but i think in southern wales and cardiff, up
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to around 21 degrees or so. so, here's the weekend summary again, and the outlook into next week, not an awful lot changes. there's no warm weather on the way. i think it's going to stay more or less the same, below average and a chance of some showers. and that's it, bye—bye.
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this is bbc news. i'm rich preston. our top stories: the tax returns of former president donald trump will be handed to congress after a ruling by the us justice department. the cost of covid for pregnant women in brazil: the bbc has exclusive footage of a maternity ward treating women with the virus. turkey calls on help from neighbouring countries as it tackles wildfires on its southern coast. it's super saturday at the olympics in tokyo with plenty of action ahead, including the women's 100m final. and a packed audience and no more social distancing at the royal albert hall for the first night of the proms in london.

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