April 07, 2017

"When people say multiculturalism doesn’t work I feel like they are trying to rub out my existence"

Nish Kumar talks to Sarah Brown about his experiences and his activism

Theirworld

Sarah Brown

President, Theirworld

In a special episode of her Better Angels podcast, Theirworld President Sarah Brown talks at length to British comedian Nish Kumar about his shows, his activism and changing attitudes since the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Nish Kumar's latest comedy tour is called "Actions speak louder than words, unless you shout the words real loud".

It demonstrates how activism is as important as being funny to this 31-year-old who grew up in a British-Indian family.

In a special interview episode of her Better Angels podcast, Theirworld President Sarah Brown talks to Nish about his comedy, his childhood and the ways in which he is pushing back to tackle racist attitudes in the UK and unlock his own activism.

Listen to the full episode here...

Nish confesses that he is struggling with how to give his audience what they want to hear about today's issues but also to do more personally as an activist - particularly on the issue of the UK voting to leave the European Union.

He says: “I’m not sure I ever believed that comedians have the power to change - or certainly not that I have the power to change anything, because I’m largely performing to people that already agree with me.

“Now I’m at a point where I’m wondering is that enough - what is my responsibility going forward. I’m genuinely wrestling with that.

“How do you convince people that things are so bad that it’s not just enough to come and watch a political comedy show - but taking that energy out into the real world?“

Nish gets particularly animated about the subject of Brexit and its aftermath

YouTube

Sarah gives him some food for thought about how to better focus his activism by stepping back and looking at the underlying issues.

Nish gets particularly animated when it comes to the subject of identity in Britain today.

“One of the things that really angers me and really frustrates me is this idea that multiculturalism as a project is dead," he says. 

“Or, in some cases, people seem to believe that multiculturalism is responsible for all of the problems that we have.

“Because when people say multiculturalism doesn’t work I feel like they are trying to rub out my existence. 

"I feel very strongly that I love this country and I’m 100% British - but I have a huge affinity for India because it’s where my parents come from and it’s where a huge part of my family lives.”

When he grew up in the 1990s, he says, that view was accepted - but there has been a steady erosion of that stance.

“That idea is constantly under attack," he says. “Me and so many of my friends are living proof that it’s perfectly possible to be a British Asian - it doesn’t mean I have any sort of disloyalty to my country."

Find out more about Nish Kumar and his latest tour.

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Sarah talks to politicians, entertainers, activists and world leaders about their inspiration, their hopes and their dreams at a time of enormous international upheaval.

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