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Reflections of an Asian Football Casual
2nd March 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Riaz Khan, Author, Playwright, Lecturer (DMUIC) & Leicester College
This session will discuss my lived experience as a young man living in Leicester during the troublesome times of the National Front and racism. Growing up we faced many hurdles due to our ethnicity. Whether it was at school, on our estate, or in the workplace. As a young lad I never fitted in. In Leicester most of us live side by side but this wasn’t always the case. Asians were very traditional, and this reflected onto the community through clothing, music and mannerism. We had this notion that our hosts would welcome us with open arms into the wider society. Yet this was not the case in most as we were met with fierce opposition from the indigenous population. Ideas of an Asian takeover were plastered all over the media and certain political figureheads embedded these thoughts. So how did a young Asian man try and become part of the wider community? People talk about integration but for me, and others, we had to assimilate to be accepted. We had to dress like them, talk like them, act like them to have a sense of belonging and this was done through the Casual sub-culture.
I wrote a book after seeing the rise of the far right on the terraces. I wanted to disrupt these stereotypes about Asian men, predominately Pakistani men. I wanted to educate them through my own upbringing and how I as an Asian youth assimilated and became part of a subculture that I believe broke down many racial barriers, more than any political leader, religious leader, famous personality has ever done. From this book stemmed a theatrical play at the Curve Theatre which was funded partly by DMU. Many people from all walks of life and varying backgrounds came to see it and in the 10 or so years the theatre has been open they have never seen a diverse audience as the ones that watched the play. In addition, I have a bit of a social media presence where I have used my experiences to try and dispel negative comments or posts about the BAME communities in the UK. I have changed some mindsets of the Far Right through mainly actions and displaying how BAME communities are active within the wider community.
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