Updated: Dec 27, 2022
Finding Yourself is a brand new blog series that we are hosting on The Last Word that focuses on representation in the world of Literature, TV/Film and the Arts in general, whether that be through sexuality, ethnicity, disability, gender or any other element of diversity. We ask those in our community to think about the times when they have found themselves represented and how that made them feel.
Our first guest blogger/contributor is Rohan Sarma - a Y10 student at Tanglin Trust School - and he was asked the following questions:
Describe your family makeup - what makes you, you?
My mother is Jewish American, and my father is British but of Indian ancestry. On my mom's side, both her parents were born in Canada and moved to America as young adults, with families emigrating from all over Europe, ranging from Poland to the UK to Russia. My dad's side is a similar story, with both his parents moving from northeast India to London as young adults. I was born in London and, with a 3 month-long split in New York City, I lived there until age 7 when I moved to Singapore.
Why do you think diverse and inclusive representation in the world of literature, arts and TV/Film is important?
The purpose of media is to represent a specific part of the world, and as we engage with media it begins to give us a full picture which can act as a microcosm for our understanding of the world. Of course we're humans, we can't read everything, listen to everything, watch everything. But, if we're only given a taster with which to form this microcosm, our understanding of the world becomes distorted. I think it's less about every single piece of media having all different characters, it's more about all the different cultures and ethnicities of the world coming together in a bigger picture.
Have you ever found yourself or your family authentically represented in a work of literature, or television or film? If so, where?
'Authentically' is key here. I can fall under many umbrella terms, one perhaps that is most obvious is for example mixed-race. Mixed-race people have been represented all the time in media, the TV show coming to mind being 'mixed-ish'. But, the main character here is a combination of African and White, not Indian and White like me. To be honest, I can't say that I have ever found an authentic representation of me and I'm not sure that one actually exists - or if it does I haven't found it.
What does it feel like to not have found yourself or your family represented?
I'll be honest - I'm not too upset. I'm an incredibly mixed person, and as a creative person it can be hard to kill two birds with one stone in this field. I don't blame artists or content makers for not depicting a completely accurate representation of me. I feel what's more important is to get an understanding that people like me - complete mixes in many ways - exist in the world. And I feel this can be best developed through individual diverse traits being represented in the media helping to create the microcosm I mentioned earlier.
Can you recommend any books or TV shows/films that contain authentic or diverse representations that people will enjoy reading/watching?
I'll give some recommendations, but the most important thing I think is just to keep engaging. Keep looking out for different books or TV shows and critically thinking about the representations you find within them. The more you read/watch/listen to, the more you become aware of the existence of different cultures and the diversity out there. For recommendations: 'In The Heights' is a musical (film came out this year) which is a great representation of the Latinx community in NYC. 'Fresh Off the Boat' is a good TV representation of Asians living abroad - and of course is great fun. Finally, 'The Hate U Give' is a book/movie that's a very interesting in its depiction of racism and police brutality.
If you would like to take part and contribute to our new blog feature then please click on this link and complete the form: https://forms.gle/k2pbKjGkwz1QJECE9