By Lauren Bodiam
Who am I?
What I’m about to write before you is something I have wanted to write and express for a long time. I wasn’t sure if this belonged as a post on medium a shortened thread on twitter or if I should do this as a SCAB
I am 50% Indian, 25% German, 25% British.
Through out my life I have experienced many identity crisis’s and asked the question who am I? Race is one of the most defining sociodemographic features of a person, so it’s common that someone’s identity can be based on what family they were born into. For someone who is multi ethnic it can get confusing; half of you is “something” and the other half is “another thing” and I have found a lot of the time we are rejected from the very cultures we come from. I partly believe this is also due to a lack of representation especially when growing up. I do not remember a single commercial, film or piece of popular culture that portrayed a family or character I could relate to. So it gets harder for others to understand what its like.
Being multi ethnic does not only affect me but also my parents, predominately my Mum. My Mum is Indian and for someone who is half Indian I have a pretty pale complexion. When I first started school parents and teachers used to refer to her as my nanny or my babysitter they never accepted her as my own mother based on the colour of her skin. A teacher once told me I looked adopted and at a young age I questioned if my mum was actually my mum and that must have been such a hard thing to for her to hear. This is where first learnt about how so many people base identity and who you are on the colour of your skin.
I have never been White enough or Asian enough
This is something I’m often reminded of when I speak about my ethnicity. Last week I was on the bus and I was sat talking to a man who was Indian. He asked me if I had been on holiday because I looked tanned. I told him it was because I was half Indian. It was my natural complexion. He started asking who was Indian and where in India my mother was from. Without him knowing what either of my parents looked like he told me I looked more like my dad. I followed with a picture of my mum explaining I hold most of her facial features.
The most difficult situation I find myself in is not appearing Asian enough and having to deal with prejudice that a lot of people don’t realize are offensive and wrong to both myself and others. I have often found myself in situations where people have said “I don’t find Asians attractive” and even had a boy I dated state he was feeling “freaked out” knowing I was half Indian. When white people find out I’m half Indian I am approached by a lot of stereotypical questions that don’t apply to myself or a lot of people from the culture questions like does that mean you are Hindu? does your house smell curry?, do you eat curry everyday?
Being multi ethnic at home is natural and its how I understand it to me. Its where I don’t feel alienated through questions. Where people don’t put stereotypes and prejudice towards me.
I recently watched to all the boys I have loved before. To me it was the perfect representation of my family and what to me being mixed is like. We are a family despite the range skin tones and being mixed is subtle we have parts of each culture while we speak English and are westernised in gestures and the clothing we wear but we have to travel to different supermarkets to find okra, parathas, and spices as they don’t sell them in the Sainsburys down the road. We cook curry but its not the kormas and masalas you find in the takeaway menu. (also dating/not having a partner is still a problematic talk with my mum).