The British Asian Inquisition, or How I Came to Accept I’m From India Even Though I’m Not

(This post was originally published in the Huffington Post)

Shah-Rukh-Khan-win-‘Kid_-Ikon-of-the-Year_-award-at-Nickelodeon_s-Kids-Choice-Awards-2016

Every British Asian has played out a version of this conversation:

‘Where are you from?’

‘Brighton.’

‘No, before that.’

‘London.’

‘Um… I mean, originally.’

‘Lewisham hospital.’

‘Sorry. I mean your parents. Where are they from?’

Now here’s weird. You’re making small talk with a complete stranger; you expect to be asked what you do for a living, what team you support, what car you drive perhaps. But to lead with a question about where your mum and dad lived when they were little, and this before you even know each other’s name? What kind of freak does that? Continue reading “The British Asian Inquisition, or How I Came to Accept I’m From India Even Though I’m Not”

Madonna Wears a Burqa! Katy Perry Dresses Like a Geisha Girl! Pharrell Dons a Feather Headdress! So What?

(This post was originally published in the Huffington Post)

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If words could come to life, “appropriation” would arrive promptly on time, dressed in a grey suit, pushing a standard regulation pencil, telling everyone to stop doing that, it’s not appropriate.

It’s the ultimate party pooper, especially if it’s a costume party, and woe betide you come dressed in anything your lineage does not implicitly give you the cultural right to be seen in.

I couldn’t tell you exactly when the word left the domain of stuffy academia and infiltrated everyday speak, but I noticed it becoming increasingly commonplace around the time Katy Perry deigned to dress up as a Geisha on her tour. The Twitterati were up in arms: Katy Perry who she fink she is dissin’ on da japs lol #culturalappropriation.
Continue reading “Madonna Wears a Burqa! Katy Perry Dresses Like a Geisha Girl! Pharrell Dons a Feather Headdress! So What?”

Does It Matter Where You Come From? When Someone Offers You a DNA Test, It Suddenly Does…

(This article was originally published in the Huffington Post)

Like millions of others, I saw The DNA Journey video by Momondo and pondered the question it poses: ‘Would you dare to question who you really are?’

Now, if you’re British and white and someone asks you where you’re from, you’ll reply, ‘Britain’, and move on. For the rest of us, shaded olive all the way to black, it’s a struggle.

The question offends those who were born here, galled by the insinuation that dark cannot equate a true Brit, while immigrants who’ve done their level best to integrate feel it throws them back to square one. Even those of us without a chip on our shoulder about being judged by our roots find it peculiar that complete strangers say hello by asking where our parents lived when they were little. Continue reading “Does It Matter Where You Come From? When Someone Offers You a DNA Test, It Suddenly Does…”