Actor and rapper Riz Ahmed has warned that the enduring failure to champion diversity on TV is alienating young people, driving them towards extremism and into the arms of Isis.
Ahmed, known for his roles in Four Lions and the the Star Wars prequel Rogue One, said the lack of diverse voices and stories onscreen led people from minority backgrounds to “switch off and retreat to fringe narratives, to bubbles online and sometimes even off to Syria”.
…“People are looking for the message that they belong, that they are part of something, that they are seen and heard and that despite, or perhaps because of, their experience, they are valued. They want to feel represented. In that task we have failed.”
He added: “If we don’t step up and tell a representative story … we are going to start losing British teenagers to the story that the next chapter in their lives is written with Isis in Syria. We are going to see the murder of more MPs like Jo Cox (who was murdered by a white guy, I guess cause he noticed he didn’t look like Lenny Henry – Ed.) because we’ve been mis-sold a story that is so narrow about who we are and who we should be.”
…Ahmed called on the government to act, particularly to overturn the unconscious bias in hiring that was preventing talented people from black, Asian and minority backgrounds rising up the ranks. He said public money should be tied to representation targets for broadcasters to break the cycle of top jobs going mainly to white men.