Rishi’s Racism - Part 1: The Disguised Racism of Rishi Sunak. Did a Non-White, Non-Christian British Prime Minister Ever Really Stand a Chance? | Rock & Art

Rishi’s Racism – Part 1: The Disguised Racism of Rishi Sunak. Did a Non-White, Non-Christian British Prime Minister Ever Really Stand a Chance?

The covert racism, polite prejudice, and subtle stereotyping faced by Rishi Sunak.

This isn’t specifically about politics; it’s about race, identity, pride in your heritage, and the experience of being a brown person growing up in the UK, the child of immigrants. For those seeking analytical, thought-provoking, and visionary articles on geopolitics, history, and international relations, with oceanic depths of insight and hardcore intellectual horsepower, please click the link to my other articles!


This is specifically for my diminishing circle of readers who have asked for something “Less political, serious and intense and more fun!” This circle doesn’t include my parents, who don’t read my articles as they are traditional British Indian parents who don’t believe in following your passion and keep nervously clarifying with me that my writing is just a hobby and I won’t leave my mind numbingly tedious, but secure role in finance.

A Paki will never be Prime minister

Aaah, I remember it like it was yesterday. People say that, but I do; it’s so vivid!

My dad’s favourite show is Question Time, which elicited a sense of euphoria and calm that I guess he never experienced with his children. I was discussing the previous night’s show with my classmate at school. My father possessed an unhinged naivety concerning high school camaraderie and social banter and told me that discussing politics with my classmates would make me popular. It didn’t. They were more interested in football, music, movies and girls, pretty much in that order.

All my misgivings about my father’s knowledge of teen social banter were entirely justified. Politics never once came up in my entire secondary school lifespan…Except for today. I’d never had this conversation before, and never had it again.

But today, for the only time, I briefly chatted about politics, and my friend commented on me running for Prime Minister as a joke. An Indian-origin, Hindu boy at that, be Prime Minister? Hilarious! We both laughed it off, and nothing more was said. Or so I thought… The class bully, Andrew Burke, who also doubled as my nemesis, overheard the conversation and got involved, for no reason whatsoever, as bullies do.

“A Paki being Prime Minister, that’ll never happen. They’ll never let a Paki be PM.”

The air of impish playfulness and boyish mischief was replaced swiftly by a startling sobriety. How dare he? This is a grammar school. Did I pass my 11+ just for this? I should have ignored him and heeded Elsa’s advice in “Frozen” and just let it go. But I did what would be a recurring pattern in my formative years when I should’ve kept my mouth shut. I spoke.

I first asked who he meant by “they” as that was unclear. Who are they? I then pointed out that I wasn’t Pakistani, had never been to Pakistan, and had absolutely no connection with Pakistan. I am a British Indian with Indian parents, and they are from two different countries and religions. I tried to keep my voice calm, deep with an assured tone, but it ascended into a hysterical, high, girlish pitch.

As anyone with any experience of saying this knows, the racists don’t care. We’re all the same if we have brown skin, and that was Burke’s general hypothesis. The distinctions, intricacies, and nuances of the diverse cultures and histories were lost on him. We were both brown, and that’s as far as his short-sighted colour blindness could see.

He did know that I was of Indian origin but muttered something vague under his breath “You’re all the same, you know what I mean.” I was so angry at the way he casually just labelled all brown people into one box. Could I say Americans, English, and Germans are all the same while discounting the cultural differences?

I went on a rant, while Burke just sat there, blue eyes glazed over, blonde hair fashionably tousled, casually chewing gum, knowing full well it was the nineties, so he didn’t need to argue as he was under the assumption that he was correct. I then said something I would regret for years to come and I knew was wrong in the midst of saying it. I told him by the time we grow up, there will be an Indian-origin prime minister. He started to laugh. A lot. I disputed his xenophobic claim. He continued to laugh. But my argument was flawed and half-hearted. Deep down, I knew he was right, and there would never indeed be an Indian-origin PM.

Then along came Rishi…

A wave of euphoria surged through my body like an overflowing river. This is what it must feel like when you take crack cocaine i thought. But better, guilt free, the avoidance of bankruptcy and not having to consider becoming a sex worker to pay for your addiction. This was the emotion that those annoying, eternally optimistic people feel. This was it. I was happy.

Revenge is a dish best served cold. I had waited over 20 uneventful years. I was now going to become an online sleuth, find Andrew Burke, taunt and troll him. He probably would have no idea what I was talking about and probably forgot the whole incident, 30 minutes later in double French. But I hadn’t forgotten. Maybe because I had a good memory, more likely because I’m petty and bitter. But I decided that due to Burke being 6’1’’ and me being a very generous 5’7’’, I would take this as the only opportunity to be the bigger man.

That, accompanied by the bleak reality that I spent three days looking on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and I couldn’t find him.

I felt desolate and incomplete. I couldn’t say the world’s best and most long-awaited “I told you so.” It had been a subconscious reason for me to live. When times were hard, I thought, if there is an Indian PM, I can gloat in Andrew Burke’s face. I took comfort in the knowledge that as he wasn’t on any social media, he had died. Hopefully, a grisly death, eaten by hippos, or something equally grim, but not involving him being on a tropical vacation.

A halcyon of hope perforated my head and my imagination expanded to envelop the wonders, as I visualised the most nightmarish possibilities. Maybe he had become one of those grumbling alcoholics who talked to themselves, with an eye-watering stink that could strip paint from walls, with bad grooming habits, yellow, plaque-filled teeth, long unkempt fingernails and a collection of colourful, yet highly tasteless kimonos. Ok, I’m not that petty. I didn’t wish he was dead. But he wasn’t on Instagram or Facebook, which meant he was socially dead. And that was good enough for me.

Twenty years later, surely, we’re less discriminatory. I thought so, until a week ago, when a channel 4 investigator recorded a Reform party member calling Rishi a “F***ing P*ki”, which highlighted the progress we failed to make. Don’t worry Rishi, give me a call if you need help getting through the hurt. I’m a good listener. It might take 20 years though.

Rishi Sunak

A non-white, non-Christian, Hindu becomes PM

I was working in risk management for an investment bank during Liz Truss’s turbulent 44 days, which increased my stress and decreased my sleep. Anyone could have replaced her. I would have been content with Peppa Pig. However, we had a former chancellor who worked for Goldman Sachs. I’d got through all the rounds of interviews and been turned down twice for Goldman, so I knew how difficult it was to get in. I was already in awe.

There were signs of an Indian renaissance, first ripples, then tidal waves caused by the CEO of Google and Microsoft who were both Indian, then US Vice President Kamala Harris who is half Indian, but Rishi was a full-on tele-tsunami!

Rishi’s Racism - Part 1: The Disguised Racism of Rishi Sunak. Did a Non-White, Non-Christian British Prime Minister Ever Really Stand a Chance? | Rock & Art

Kamala Aunty by Hanifa Abdul Hameed, 2020. © Colors of Honey

An Indian-origin Hindu, raised in the UK like me, from parents of Indian immigrants. His dad was a GP for the NHS, my dad was a hospital doctor for the NHS. His mum managed her own pharmacy, my mum managed someone else’s GP surgery. He grew up in a quaint, provincial smaller city, ignored and sneered at by the cosmopolitan big cities, just like me. It was like looking in a mirror, although he is thinner and can wear slim fit shirts.

The Indian Obama moment – “Indians are beastly and need someone to rule them”

Rishi becoming Prime Minister (PM), what a monumental achievement and moment of pride for Indians around the world. And that too during Diwali, or as white people call it, “Indian Christmas.”

And he became the leader for the Tories, not even the self-proclaimed progressive, liberal Labour Party, who, despite claiming inclusivity, haven’t had a leader that has grown up outside North London. Not the best argument for diversity.

Rishi was the leader of the party of Winston Churchill, who hated Indians and called them beasts! It was too good to be true! You can’t write this. If it was a film, it would be too unrealistic. Even for Bollywood.

What would Winston say? The man considered Britain’s greatest Briton, celebrating his 150th anniversary this year, with events all around the UK commemorating him, who said that Indians can’t rule themselves, someone else needs to rule them, was now being ruled, (albeit from a grave from which he must be turning over frequently,) by an Indian-origin man of first-generation Indian immigrant parents. I exploded with happiness from the flood of retributive irony.

Rishi Sunak

Rishi wasn’t elected by the people, and he lost to Liz Truss, who was voted over him by the 300,000 registered Tories, who make up just 0.18% of the UK voting electorate. They voted for Liz, even though Rishi was more qualified and had done a great job as the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

My immigrant dad might have been onto something when he told me growing up, that you have to be better than “British” people, (even though I am also British), as otherwise, if you’re the same, they will choose the white candidate. Rishi was better, but the registered Tories had chosen the less qualified white candidate. Who subsequently lasted less time than lettuce takes to go off.

After Liz resigned in disgrace, another round of voting for the leader occurred, and this time, Rishi’s vote was so high, it didn’t need to go back to the registered Tories.

Just like American black people when Barack became president, this was British Indians’ Obama moment. Except better and more authentic because Obama was only half-black. Obama had one Black parent. But Rishi was fully Indian, with not one, but two Indian parents.

Rishi’s Racism - Part 1: The Disguised Racism of Rishi Sunak. Did a Non-White, Non-Christian British Prime Minister Ever Really Stand a Chance? | Rock & Art

Barack Obama With Tattoos. Artwork by Biggon. 

Obama had grown up not in America itself, but thousands of miles away on the Island of Hawaii. Rishi had grown up in Southampton in the UK, which sounds like an exotic island, but for anyone who’s been there, it’s not… as exotic as Hawaii.

There were lots of parallels:

Obama was the descendant of a slave who then became the master.

India was the former slave of Britain, and now a descendant had become the master.

Britain had sent British people across the Atlantic Ocean to steal wealth from India.

America sent Americans across the Atlantic to steal Africans from Africa.

Both had waited a long time for justice: America 400 years, India, a paltry 200 years in comparison.

Anyone who witnessed the media scrum when Meghan Markle married British white knight in shining armour, Prince Harry, will know that for Rishi, it was a poisoned chalice from the beginning.

A real test of a country’s equality is whether someone non-white and non-Christian can get the top job. Despite claims of being secular, it had never happened in the UK or USA.

Sure, you can get close to the top; you can be an MP, even in the cabinet. Megan could have married one of Harry’s inbred second cousins, and no one would have fluttered an eyebrow. But she chose Harry. And in Rishi’s case, it was the Prime Minister. Rishi was the political Meghan Markle, choosing the hallowed pinnacle of traditional white institutions. Megan caused herself a lot of problems. Rishi inherited a lot of problems. Both had to swim against the oncoming tidal wave of subtle indignation and politely disguised prejudice.

Part 2:

  • Rishi’s controversies
  • Where are you from originally
  • Proud to be Indian