I have taken the decision to retire Raj Kumar. Over the past week I have taken some time to look at my roleplaying 'career' and at the genre as a whole and, for the reasons I will explain below, have decided to shelve this character in the NoPixel GTA RP community.
In order to fully explain my decision, it is important to understand the current climate and the future of society, opinions, equality and roleplaying. Over the last few years, and more significantly this year itself, society, Caucasians and I have begun to understand more and more about prejudice, stereotyping and racism. We have learnt to become more patient, thoughtful and have looked to listen more to those whose voices may have previously been overlooked. One part of the movement has related to how minorities are depicted in media and how their cultures, languages and histories should be communicated, taught and portrayed by the people from those very same backgrounds.
This is not to say that I am not proud of what I had achieved roleplaying Raj. He was a kind, imaginative, enthusiastic character and I have enjoyed every moment playing him. I know that the wheels he has put in motion with invaderFLIX will continue to ripple throughout the city and I will always be grateful to the people I roleplayed with and who welcomed Raj into Los Santos.
The reality is that whilst I always intended to be fair, kind and portray a South Asian with love and warmth, it is not the intent, it is the execution that will be examined. As the only regular South Asian character in the city I loved flying the flag for that culture and had high hopes for Raj and the culture in the city, but it is not my place to fly that flag. The role of a South Asian should be played, in my opinion, by a South Asian. That is not to say that they need to play their character right down the middle, nor is it to say that people in the community who play characters from other ethnicities and cultures should stop; that is their decision but they should always be mindful of the stereotypes and connotations that come along with such a territory.
The explanation behind my decision may also be assisted by me laying out my own personal long term plans more clearly. Within NoPixel I am very keen to continue roleplaying, and streaming on Twitch, as it is something I enjoy and strongly feel that I have a lot more to contribute, both for invaderFLIX and in the city as a whole. Additionally, outside of streaming and gaming, I have written and am writing screenplays and will continue to build other options and careers for myself. In these, more 'mainstream' industries the 'Court of Public Opinion' is a strong and volatile beast. Whilst I may be able to defend myself to some level playing Raj (intent, not leaning on stereotypes, approval from South Asian friends etc.) there is little reason to spend numerous hours playing the character, editing videos and developing relationships only to end up regretting or having to change the decision later down the line. Thirdly, I looked at how comedy ages. Over time some jokes become unacceptable and we look back both with understanding of the environment in which they were said, but also shock at what we could say back then. In the moment, Raj today may seem all well and good, but in a few years will we feel the same way?
So what happens next? Well out of roleplaying I am still Sam, I am still here and I will still continue to operate as normal. Within NoPixel, Raj Kumar, following his trip back to India, will remain there to be with his family. As for who I will roleplay next, you will find out soon!
Thank you for reading this and giving me the opportunity to explain my decision. I took my time in coming to this conclusion, did my research and reached out to a variety of people to get to the most measured and balanced finale. I am pleased with the decision and I look forward to entertaining you more in the future.