History

Transcending Differences

Actress Archie Panjabi, guest editor for our special race issue, talks about celebrating but then transcending our differences Wednesday, 4 April

By Archie Panjabi
Photographs By Maarten De Boer, Getty Images

It is my honour to be the guest editor for this special issue on race, a subject that I feel connected to on many levels. It now seems like just the right time to have this conversation.

In the United States, non-Hispanic whites will make up less than 50 percent of the population by 2044. (See “The Rising Anxiety of White America” in the April 2018 issue.) As an actor of Indian heritage who grew up in diverse north London and now lives in Los Angeles, I’m intrigued both by this demographic shift and by the failure of much of the media to reflect it.

As I began work on this issue I was busy promoting my first lead role in a United Kingdom television series. The chance to portray a solid, interracial marriage was part of what drew me to ITV’s Next of Kin.

So it was gratifying to read in “The Many Colours of Matrimony” (April 2018 issue) that the media’s validation of these relationships is linked to their increased social acceptance. If there’s a theme in my work, this is it: Celebrate but then transcend differences.

In 1999 I received my first film break in East is East, a movie that explored the lives of a Pakistani immigrant and his family. It was an exciting time to witness, as more characters that truly reflected the population arrived on screen. I believe that great drama can shine a light on the intricacies of race and prejudice and enable us to gain understanding.

The article “Skin Deep” reports there is no genetic basis for dividing humanity into racial categories. Yet “The Things That Divide Us” examines how we are wired to differentiate between groups of people. Collectively, this month’s edition illustrates how complex the discussion of diversity and race actually is.

What would media that truly reflect our diverse world look like? I hope this issue brings us a step closer to finding out.

The April 2018 issue is on sale in all good newsagents or can be ordered here.