Knowing is Belonging
Identity is an area we all at some point will have thought about, talked about, questioned, think we’ve got it and then maybe re-questioned it all over again. I hear so many young people and adults say; ‘I don’t know who I am’ It’s not a question you can answer overnight. It takes talking, debating, questioning, listening and then sometimes re-reflecting on what you thought you already knew.
In my first blog I posted ‘True to Me’ I spoke a little about me, the things I love, the things that worry me and some of the challenges I’ve faced. I was born and bred in the wonderful city of Birmingham and whilst Northamptonshire is now my home my home city will always have a special little place in my heart. I am the youngest of three daughters and I grew up with an African and Indian upbringing. I’m not going to follow by telling you that life was full of roses and fairy dust. No. It was hard and money was hard to come by. However, I had and do have a lot to be thankful for. Have a mooch of some of my latest tweets where I did a 30-day challenge sharing one thing a day that I was thankful for.
I realised I was ‘different’ when a peer at school asked me one day. Why I was so dirty. I proceeded to defend myself saying I had on clean clothes and was not dirty. To which he replied well you need to scrub harder because you are brown. I was shocked and speechless and for that moment as a child I hated myself so much. I cried a great deal and asked my parents why I was different?
I could go on and share with you the numerous racist things I’ve had said to me, from telling me I don’t belong in this country, That I’m taking all the jobs, I’m scum, Dirty… the list goes on. I’ve been physically assaulted and asked to leave a country and city I was born in and even been accused of being a terrorist on multiple occasions and that’s when I started to ask myself the question…
Where do I actually belong?
I am proud to describe myself as a British Indian/African women but where do I fit in? I get told to leave the country I call home but when I go to India or Africa I’m classified as a tourist. I apply for a visa, book a return ticket back to the UK and make sure my laundry is all up to date for when I get back. Whilst the colour of my skin is similar to those in India (my hands are ‘pinker’ apparently!) my accent is different, my lifestyle is different, I eat different foods and I’m described as being from London! So I don’t belong there either…
I embrace my culture, the diversity of the people I am surrounded by, the way I look, the colour of my skin and even my petite frame. I’ve read numerous cruel posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but alongside that I’ve also read messages from people who are standing up to those shouting racist comments and making assumptions and their simply saying ‘NO’. No to accepting the cruel words being said and sharing positive posts and experiences instead. Thank you so much to every person who’s had the courage to say No.
I may not fully know where I belong, but like all of us, I am on a journey of discovery and everything I do brings me one step closer to finding out. I may get told I don’t belong here but I do know this;
Until next time…