Rapper Raja Kumari was born and brought up in California. But she is happy to have been raised by her South Indian parents, who instilled in her Indian values and traditions, despite living in a land far away from their native country. While she has faced colourism and racism while growing up and in the initial days of her music career, Kumari lauds the progress that the world has made today.
To mark the South Asian Heritage Month, she exclusively talks to News18 about the importance of celebrating the community and thus, empowering them. “Growing up in the US, we honestly didn’t celebrate anything known as South Asian Heritage Month. When it comes to nationality, people then had to tick the box whether they were Asians, black or white and it always posed a challenge as South Asians don’t fall into these boxes. Having the South Asian Heritage Month is a huge part of the progress of global representation, and I am glad to be a part of it. Generations can celebrate their ethnicity and be proud of where they come from,” she elaborates.
Music streaming platform Spotify has also dedicated the period from mid-July to mid-August to the wide breadth of talent in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka, through desi playlists, a curation of podcasts from South Asian podcasters and more.
Kumari lauds them and says, “Asian culture has always been exoticised and looked over as something people can’t relate to. I love that Spotify does so much to expose the audience to Asian culture through South Asian music.” She adds, “It also gives us, creators, an opportunity and exposure by putting our faces on the biggest billboards in Times Square and letting people know that there is so much art in the world.”
The Rani Cypher artiste believes that South Asian filmmakers, actors and musicians are an important part of mainstream Hollywood today and she credits the industry for its inclusivity. “Our community has worked hard to get the representation they deserve, and what we are witnessing today has been in the making for many years. K-pop is doing so well globally. Thanks to OTT platforms, more and more Indian actors are seeking opportunities in a wider space than their country because the global audience is enjoying their performances,” Kumari ends.