ONE YEAR ON...
It was a year ago today that I hit the ‘Publish’ button on the Wix back-end to push through my first blog post, as the London Writing Guy. With this being my 16th post I look back and reflect.
The blog was born from a number of key events. The murder (and yes, let’s be completely honest, he was murdered) of George Floyd in May 2020, and the Black Lives Matter movement, made me question my own identity. How did I fit in amongst society? How I fit in as a British born Asian amongst British society? It could be argued that South Asians across the globe were largely silent in the wake of the George Floyd murder. Why the silence? Was there something culturally, on in our heritage, that meant we as South Asians were more inclined to remain quiet on such topics? Many of these questions I’d had already, as a British South Asian. However, questions specific to the BLM movement and the movement itself just exacerbated the conversation in my head.
The following month, James Buttler of the Cricket Badger podcast spoke to former England batsman Michael Carberry, in an interview that was brave on all parts. Carbs spoke about his experiences of racism in cricket, which was shocking and saddening to say the least. A couple of months later, in August, Wisden’s Taha Hashim published an article called “The extraordinary life of Azeem Rafiq,” which revealed details that nobody could ever have imagined. Being a cricket fan, all of this didn’t exactly surprise me but it did come as a shock. It was also one of those things that you wish didn’t exist and perhaps turned a blind eye to. Given my questions on my own identity (and as a child of an immigrant family), I wondered whether this obvious and blatant racism was one of the reasons why there weren’t more British South Asians playing cricket and more professional sport, in general.
With all of the above combined, I started doing a lot of reading. Time was on my side, what with the world setting out on a journey through a pandemic, which had roads meandering one way and another. I decided to start my own journey. A journey to address what seemed like a never ending list of question. In December 2020, The London Writing Guy was born. He is still in his infancy. Growing and learning. Developing and honing his technique, much like a bowler fine-tuning his action. The blog started with an aim to address the lack of British South Asians, or diversity in general, in the cricketing and sporting world. I feel this has now moved on to being something of a hub for recording conversations of lived experiences, along with research via conversation from those in the know.
For me, a year on, the main question is…what have I learnt? I am not sure I can answer that question. I have learnt a lot and very little, all at the same time. I have learnt that with time on my side I am more likely to follow and pursue what I am personally passionate about. The slowdown in life in 2020, as a result of the pandemic, helped me. I appreciate it was not a positive experience for all and I take a moment to think about all those that have been impacted by the virus. However, I cannot get away from the fact that I would never have registered the domain name for this blog without that slowdown in my life.
I have also learnt that I could have been more direct with my approach on what I was addressing and what I wanted to address. I perhaps avoided the topic of racism, maybe out of fear. I am not sure what I was afraid of, but I think I could have been a little more targeted in the narrative.
That said, the topic of diversity in sport is a mine-field. It is not just due to racism and / or prejudicial practices. One of the most common factors for those professionals that I have spoken to is that of parental support. Whether that’s with regards to travel, financial support, or even moral support.
As life and times get busier, the London Writing Guy is also admittedly slightly less active. But I have ensured he hasn’t stopped, which I think is the most promising aspect for me. I have kept him ticking along. I have kept him engaged. I have kept reading and using any spare time to engage with interesting figures via Zoom…and I will continue to do so. I will keep learning and telling stories of lived experiences, which are invaluable. It’s amazing how easy it is to get in touch with people these days, via social media. As much as social media has its negatives, it also has huge positives in bringing people together and building connections.
To end, I want to thank everyone that has been involved in helping me form my collection of write-ups. From offering your time to speak to me to support from my now fiancée, without which this would never have happened. I remember lying on her coach one autumn afternoon and having a conversation about starting a podcast (which may well still happen at some point). I was of the belief, and still am, that I did not possess the conversational or editing skills for a podcast. Her retort was “You can figure it out” to which I didn’t really have a response. So, I found a half-way house. I always say I am not a writer. I still struggle with ensuring my grammar is perfect. Am I using that comma in the right place? Have I used those brackets correctly? But I haven’t let these fears hold me back and it’s all a process.
I started this blog by saying this would be a journey. To be honest, I am still not quite sure where this journey is headed. The one thing I do know is that it’s been one of the most exciting things I have personally pursued. I have had some brilliant conversations with some amazing people, forming some wonderful connections. I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of the write-up, post-conversation. The most exciting part of the write-up is not knowing what the core of the piece will be until I get into it. It’s fascinating and, as I said earlier, the London Writing Guy is still in his infancy and I am very much looking forward to seeing him grow in 2022.
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