Friday, 8 July 2016

Free Flow Essay: What I Cannot Shake Off

The following free flow essay is about what I have been thinking about for awhile, regarding race...but sometimes I am afraid to voice my own experience because it might offended some non-Indians. Then I realized anyone  that I really love and respect won't see this as offensive and see me as Kris - an odd yet lovable anxiety ridden book lover.

There has been a lot of violence lately in the world. Black men being shot by white police officers has really brought home the idea of racism still being alive.  I am heartbroken to see the lives that are being destroyed over prejudice of someone's skin colour.  I have always respected police officers and held them to a high level of expectation.  If I wasn't so klutzy and in love with food I might have tried out for the police academy.  So it really hurts to see a police officer gun down a man of colour for no reason.

Racism is still alive.  We like to pride ourselves in thinking that we have evolved to a place where we don't see colour.  I hate to break it to you, but we have not moved that far ahead when it comes to prejudice in ourselves.  Yes, people of colour can now sit with whites and use the same fountains, and can even marry a white person without being lynched...they can legally, but has the mindset really changed? Are people as open as they think they are?

I like to think of myself as Canadian and that is about as stereotyped as I want to be.  I am a woman, I am a non-practicing Sikh, my ancestors are from Punjab, India, I am brown, and heterosexual.  None of these things define me as me on their own or even as a collective.  They are parts of me.  I have to admit I didn't even realize I was not like everyone else in my school until someone called me a "Hindu".  I had never heard of the term before but could tell by the person's tone it was not something they thought was good.  So, yes, stupidly I did call that white boy a "bigger Hindu."  I get asked a lot if I can speak English, where I am from, and what my people celebrate and eat.  (Yes, Surrey, Christmas and pizza...or at least I do).  And, every few years at school I would have to take an ESL (English as a Second Language) test even though I was born in Canada and English is my first language (trust me, I had to take two different languages to graduate from University).  While I was still in high school, non-Indian people would ask me if my parents were going to choose my husband and if he would be from India.  (Answer: No. I have been to India once when I was 9, my dad hasn't gone since 1970, and my mom has gone back once in the last 20 years when her young cousin passed away - so there is not a whole lot of matchmaking happening there).  The worst was when a boyfriend's non-Indian mom asked me "if my parents were okay with me not dating an Indian boy?" and "why didn't I date an Indian boy?" and "what were my people really like?" (Not gonna lie, I have so many sarcastic thoughts when asked this!)  SIGH. People also like to slather on the praise with "You are very Canadian-like", "You don't have an accent." and my favourite, "You're skin is so light you can't tell what you are."  I thought I was human, but I could be wrong.

Dating.  Ahhhhh...dating.  I grew up with a father who came to Canada when he was ten (1959) and lost most of the Punjabi language.  He grew up with mostly non-Indian people but his parents were still of the "home country" so he could at least understand Punjabi, a bit.  My older cousins also grew up with non-Indians, and later so did I.  My first crush was Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gable, and I always wanted carrot hair and attend church like Anne, my first concert was Boyz II Men and my best friends were of European ancestry.  It was not a big surprise that my first boyfriend was also non-Indian.  I have dated boys of the same colour as my skin and whose parents are from the same home country, but when it comes to meshing I just haven't found the one within my own race.  Neither have I found the one in any race, yet!  Love is all very confusing if you ask me.  Having rules is rather restricting the pool of finding your significant other isn't it? I am already weird enough with all my anxieties and whatnot to really have a cap on people.

I have that same dream for the future generation.
While I am happy that interracial dating hasn't caused either of us (me and my non-Indian partner) to be injured it doesn't mean we haven't had bad experiences.  There is a lot of stereotyping that goes on and gets put on both of us.  Then there are the stares when we are in public.  My boyfriend has probably gotten a lot more comments about him dating an Indian girl (than I have dating him).  People are always interested to know if he will be safe (ie: will my father or some Indian relative kill him for dating me), if he will have to marry me against his will (because again my father will have a shotgun, or tradition Indian sword, to him if he doesn't restore my honour) and if Indian girls put out (ie: am I stringing him along without giving him sex, and he has now become delirious and must marry me to get some...because of the whole traditional Indian thing we have going on). Phew, I am so glad interracial dating is so different than in the past.

Sorry I had a point, until I got rambling here....hmmmmm, ah, yes, my point.  If you are going to hate me, judge me, hurt me...I really hope it is because I have offended you with my words or attitude, and not because I happen to be born with a tan and sometimes date out of my "race".

*(I will be working on this essay and hope to publish it on here again once I have heavily edited!)

2 comments:

  1. Love you! And you're always Kris to me. Beautiful, creative, smart, sensitive Kris. You define you! But I must admit that I love our differences have meant absolutely nothing to our friendship, other than showing us that we're more similar than ever (weird how that works!).

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    1. Love you back! I completely agree -- like from Anne of Green Gable we are truly kindred spirits. We aren't friends just because we happen to live in the same area and are the same age group. hugs!

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