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Work Sucks, I Know — Ammar Kalia on escaping the pigeonhole

“Another ‘race issues’ piece, is it?”

A text pings from my older brother. We had been chatting about work, and I’d just sent him an article I’d recently written about a celebrity’s experience of colourism.

“Yep,” I type back. “An Ammar Kalia special.”

For the past five years, I have been working as a journalist. I had been freelancing previously, but in 2017 I got my proper start as the recipient of a bursary for people of color for a major newspaper. Ever since, my indoctrination into the strange world of the UK media has been defined by what I look like.

Tentatively stepping into the open-plan office space of humming printers and hushed phone calls, editors would ask me: “What do you want to write about?” “Music” would be my typical response—jazz in particular—which would usually get a raised eyebrow in reply. Print media is dying and I’d need to find something less niche than jazz writing to sustain me on this sinking ship.

Read the feature on WePresent.

[This piece was published on 20/10/22]

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