Today I want to talk to you about being brown. If you’re brown like me, this one’s for you. If you’re not, stick around anyway this will be great and if anything, will hopefully provide you with a laugh or two.
During my time at University, I had purchased this one notebook that I loved (this may not seem relevant but just work with me here) It was embossed with a gold ethnic pattern and I thought it looked quite hippyish and I fell in love with it straight away.
Naturally, I had bought said notebook to actually use and during lecture one day, a gobby fellow student (I’m not being an arsehole, I’m using “gobby” as a describing word) turned to me and said “Excuse me? What religion are you because your notebook looks really Indian?”
I’ll give you a moment to absorb that…Ok shall we carry on? Now for anyone that is struggling to grasp how ridiculous that is, picture this. One day, just a normal day, you somehow find an urge to go up to a person, a real human being, and ask “Excuse me? What religion are you because your shoes look somewhat Polish?”
India is not a religion. As far as I am aware, it never has been. I was so taken aback I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or just stand there and wait for a camera to jump out and tell me I was being Punk’d.
I don’t want to name names even though a part of me would friggin’ LOVE to but above all, I wasn’t actually sure what she was asking me.
Did she want to know where my family originates from? Or was she asking me about my religious beliefs, which for me by the way, seems a bit of a deep conversation to initiate first thing on a Monday morning.
This story gets even better because I am not actually Indian. A part of me feels like I should also point out the fact that this is the only time during my 25 years on this planet, that anyone has commented on my race in this manner (to my face anyway)
Taking all of that into account, I responded by grinning and saying “Oh erm…India’s not actually a religion.” My lecturer overheard the conversation and came over to say “I don’t think this is the right time to be having this discussion.”
Actually mate, it is. One of our fellow students has just revealed to me in a roundabout way, that she can determine peoples “religious” beliefs by having a closer look at their stationary. Now that’s fucking ground breaking if you ask me.
I don’t mean to come across as a dick. Its fine to be curious but I have come from an upbringing where we were taught that it doesn’t matter what skin colour you have, if you’re a decent human being, you’re a decent human being, and it really does end there. So for me, I have never felt the need to ask for that information and even if I did, what am I going to gain from knowing it? Nothing really.
On a serious note, there was a point where I tried to run away from my culture. I used to have this fear that people would ask me where I was from and that I would have to lie. However the older I got, the more comfortable I got in my own skin. I realised that just because you’re Asian doesn’t mean you listen to Punjabi MC whilst ironing your Salwar Kameez.
When did society turn out to be about making people feel more or less superior depending on what skin colour they have? Which by the way, they didn’t even have a choice in.
With everything that is going on in the world, it can sometimes feel like the easier option to fit into a particular mould, but you shouldn’t. Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t be ashamed. Whether it’s your race, your sexuality or the fact that you like to wear crocs (actually, I don’t know about that one) just be you. If anyone comments, whether it is just blatant ignorance or something specifically designed to attack and upset you, fuck it. It really is the lowest form of intelligence.
Because in the words of Jay Z “No matter where you go, you are what you are player.”