It was 2008 and I was at an awards show for the Asian entertainment industry. I was the girlfriend of a magazine editor and we got all the invites going. Sunny Hundal was relatively unknown then. He had a couple of forums through which I’d met my then partner, and was well known in the nepotistic world of Asian media. They knew him as the IT geek done good and I guess some were secretly bewildered they’d underestimated his prowess.
I liked him in those days. I thought he was doing something important for Asian people by getting them involved in politics and providing a hub where professionals could network. I even stuck up for him when the others sneered at his success. I looked up to him and that is the only reason I did not slap him in the face when he proposed I go undercover for an expose of the national domestic violence charity, Refuge. At the time Southall Black Sisters were under threat of closure because Ealing Council decided that there was no longer a need for a culturally sensitive service and the contract should be given to someone more inclusive, like Refuge. I was as dismayed and shocked as the rest that a national charity with miles more funding than this small set up would present themselves as competition like this. I assumed Sunny was upset by this also and so I shared my negative experiences of when I had temped for them. I wasn’t immediately angry when he suggested I could go undercover for him. I was annoyed at the kyriarchal oppression playing out, on this occasion there was no solidarity from the white women but it was only when I went away to think of what Sunny was asking me to do that I decided it was harmful and maybe his intentions were not so sincere.
Here’s the thing, if I’d done that for him I would have risked putting the wellbeing of many thousands of women at risk. I might have had my issues with the management but I could not let this affect the fate of the service users. This is when I showed my solidarity to feminism as a whole, regardless of the way they’d attempted to sell others like me down the river. We never spoke of it again until the past year when, frustrated at Sunny’s liberal white feminism and his complete inability to recognise his own straw man presentations, I challenged him just like I would anyone else. How did Sunny respond? Well, first he laughed at me for being someone nobody believes on account of the one false allegation of racism I made in my entire life. Thanks for the solidarity ‘comrade’. When I responded with the above account, he GASLIGHTED me and said I had approached him, suggesting this was just sour grapes cos he’s so successful yo. He blatantly did this because he knows he has a following and I have already been hung up to dry as a liar. What he doesn’t know is that I don’t bow to this kind of bullying, really and if anything, I am not going to let him forget.
How dare the BBC approach him for a quote regarding the feminist hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick? To my understanding this was a hashtag where Asian women could discuss the ways in which Asian women are controlled, by the white majority but also men of colour. Why then is Sunny happy to jump on to his PR friendly soap box and speak for me and others like me? I’m not surprised at the BBC; this is patriarchy at its very best. Wanna talk about abortion? Bring in the menz. Wanna talk about teen pregnancy? Well, we haven’t heard from any men lately.
It is not the BBC I hold responsible here, it is Hundal. He could just say no, y’know? He doesn’t though and that’s something we have to think about.