I struggled a lot with my identity as an Indian person growing up, and it often bordered on rejection of it. I remember for a very long time my friends would describe me as, “for all intents and purposes, a white person”, and the eurocentrism my school life had raised me with taught me to adopt this as part of who I was.
Essentially I found that most white people I grew up with didn’t really want anything to do with my cultural identity unless it was served at a chain restaurant or coming out of Russel Peters’ mouth, and for quite some time, the treatment of where my parents came from becoming something of a punchline led me to condone this behaviour.
But as I continue to grow into the person who I want to be I’ve found more and more that I don’t really owe white ethnocentrism any modicum of allegiance.
Someone recently told me about a trip she was planning to Goa at the end of the month, and I swear to god, if I have to hear her throw around the word “civilized” when talking about her reservations about her accommodations there one more time, I’m going to throw her.
I remember someone here once complimented my voice by telling me that they thought from photos of me that I’d have a very heavy Indian accent, but that upon watching a video where I spoke, they realized that my voice is actually “really nice instead”.
What really threw me for a loop (or, I guess exhausted me the most) was the number of white people I considered friends telling me that I was reading too much into things by finding this offensive. That seems to happen a lot.
I guess my point in all of this is that you don’t really owe anyone your identity. Your culture, your sexuality, your gender, anything, shouldn’t have to meet any sort of standard of acceptability set by the people who have no fucking clue what struggling with those things is like.
I’ll be as Indian as I want to be.