Bradford graduate tackles racism by creating short films presented by the BBC


A MAN from Bradford has created a series of short films about racism, which have been featured on the BBC website and have reached over five million views online.

Usmaan Arshad, 29, who grew up in Girlington, Bradford, studied television production at the University of Bradford and has now launched a successful career in the television industry.

He’s worked for names like Netflix, Apple TV and as an editor at the BBC, but recently he’s used his platform to tackle the issue of racism, which he has first-hand experience of.

Usmaan said, “I struggled growing up, I was bullied at school and faced racism from an early age. Those experiences never left me.”

“I failed all my GCSEs, I had 8% attendance between years 10 and 11, mostly because of bullying and racism. It’s only when we talk about our experiences that people can see what we see.”

However, it was thanks to a chance encounter with a BBC editor while working on videos about George Floyd that led him to create his own personal video and encourage people to change their perception online.

Usmaan added: “The video was about my own experience, it got about 500,000 views on Facebook in a few days. I remember one of the editors asking me if I had looked at the comments – she said than not because they were mostly racist.”

“Two days later most of the comments were positive and people were refuting racism. For me it was a natural change as I could see people were debating and changing their minds.

In the weeks that followed, the videos were posted by the BBC around the world and I had a lot of positive feedback from colleagues.

Usmaan then explored other people’s experiences – one of the videos features Gloria, who was a midwife for 48 years and remembers her own experiences of racism.

Usmaan added, “When you make movies like that, you can’t tell people how to think. I’m proud of movies. What the audience gets is a first-hand account, there’s no bias in us telling the story – it’s just them talking, and then people can make up their own minds.

He now plans to create more films and documentaries, including exploring the effects of drugs on the South Asian community and a creative project on throwaway culture.

Usmaan’s videos can be seen here.

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