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24 September 2014
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Chaz
Chaz as St George

Sikh-ing his Britishness

Chaz Singh wanted to make a public statement about his life as a British born Sikh and his fight against prejudice using words and pictures.

Chaz Singh is one of the recipients of the BBC Breeze bursaries that has enabled him to develop his ideas about identity in a series of photographic images and poems.

Chaz has developed a collection of images that portray his identity as both Sikh and British.  The verses also reflect the image as a verbal translation.

Chaz Singh
Made in Britain

"My project was to show I'm a Sikh but I'm a British Sikh, all these pictures are powerful to show my Britishness in Plymouth," said Chaz.

"This is my way of saying I can blend in anywhere I like but still, as a Sikh I'll always have that identity."

Chaz is proud of his heritage as a British born Sikh and says that people need to understand what you see isn't always what you get.

"I can't walk around with a label saying 'Made in Britain' but hopefully these pictures show that some people are integrated already," said Chaz.

"Just because they may look different it doesn't mean they're from a different country.

"It's about talking to people, if you don't talk you're not going to find out who they are and where they're from so this is all about communication."

Chaz received support from the BBC in planning the project and in communicating with the people needed to help him out.

Peter McMullin, the Chair of the Plymstock Camera Club, kindly took the photographs for the exhibition under Chaz's guidance.

He was also able to advise and provide much appreciated transportation of Chaz and equipment to the various venues around the city.

Chaz Singh
Chaz sets up the photographer

Some of the local Plymouth stores helped out with the outfits for the shoot which also featured local college students.

Chaz feels confident that he's "realised that through the images I will be able to create, debate and stimulate minds and educate people and maybe provoke a few in this journey."

Chaz's work was exhibited at the Plymouth Theatre Royal in July 2006 and has since gone on to tour other Devon venues including Plymstock Library (August 2006), The Plough Arts Centre, Torrington (October 2006) and the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth (March-April 2007)

He also exhibited at an event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Race Relations Act held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster in November 2006.

In May 2007 Chaz showed his work at the Sikh Women's Conference, University of East London.

Further exhibitions are planned.

St George

How long before
we're accepted
we don't feel rejected
they call us by our name
they realise their shame
they see our commitment
they feel the resentment
they realise we're all the same
they see we're different by name
they realise this is our home
they realise this isn't Rome
they realise this is OUR England
they realise this is our land
there's hope
I cry and say I can't cope
anyone understands my story
we can all revel in the glory

Pub Refusal

Chaz Singh, goths and chavs

How long before
I don't get refused
I don't get abused
they don't refer to me as a Paki
they realise that's tacky
they're made aware
someone says" that's not fair"
we feel included
we don't feel excluded
we don't feel scared
we don't get compared
we're told just to blend in
this could be the ending

Made in Britain

How long before
we can all walk on the same path
we feel their wrath
they see what we're about
they kick us all out
they realise our passion
they realise it's not a fashion
they start to integrate
they start to communicate
they realise the bond
they realise we've been conned
I lose my soul
I reach my goal
I'm not seen as a freak
They realise I'm not weak

Goth & Chav

How long before
they see me as a Sikh
they realise I'm not unique
they treat me like a human
someone cries "Is this true man"
they see that inside we're tougher
we don't have to suffer
they realise?
they start to sympathise
they realise the power to touch
they realise it means so much
my love turns to hate
you become my mate
we get noticed
we stop getting dissed
I've got nothing to fear
They get me out of here

.

last updated: 15/05/07
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