The tug of war between my cultures

Picture shows a crowd of red game pawns in one corner with one brown game pawn is a distance away

'Neither here nor there.' 

Growing up as a child of immigrant parents of colour is not unique. So, I am sure my experience is not either. 

As a young child, I went to a white-majority school and would return home to my brown household. My life juggled between fish and chips and curries and naan. Like many children of immigrants, life was a wonderful collage of my cultural heritage and my everyday life in a Western country. And while I know how incredibly privileged and lucky I am, it was also a constant war over who I was. 

Growing up, I always saw people who looked like me presented as outdated stereotypes; on TV, I saw terrorists and doctors, in movies, I saw awkward nerds with strong accents. People would say how weird my culture was, the food, the accent, the clothes. To adapt, I stopped bringing food I ate at home in my packed lunches, avoided conversations about race and religion, laughed at the tone-deaf jokes about other countries. 

On the other side, I would also frequently visit my grandparents. While I loved the hustle and bustle and strange familiarity in another country, there were issues. My accent was too "British", I spoke the language weirdly, I was too Western.

From then, it's been a quest for me to find the right mix, adapting to different situations. Getting older, I would meet friends in similar situations, who maybe speak their family's language better, or don't know it at all. It makes me think, what's right?

I don't think it will ever get easier on its own. I think it requires us as a society, as whole, to not try to divide us by who we are or make us pick a side. The world would become a lot better place if we all hated a lot less and tolerated a lot more. And, we are making progress. More Person of Colour (POC) celebrities are coming to light, many (all or majority cast) POC films are becoming blockbusters (Black Panthers, Crazy Rich Asians). An integrated and multi-cultural society is helping build the bridges between our mix of identities. And while it may not seem like a pressing issue, here's to a future where no-one needs to change who they are.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland