“Where are you from?” I get asked this all the time. I usually say “West Yorkshire” or something along those lines. Then “Where are you really from?” usually follows. I say “I was born in England” to looks of bemusement. “Do you mean what is my ethnic origin?” I clarify. “Ah yes Doctor. That’s what I meant”.
My dad was from Pakistan, my mum too. Mum came to England as a school girl. Daddy was 20… I’ve been thinking about what it means to me for my parents to be from South Asia.
I asked some friends if they knew about the Partition of India which happened in 1947; when Pakistan was established. Most of my (none South Asian) friends didn’t know anything about this. My family were actually from India and made to move to this new land “Pakistan” leaving everything behind. Why don’t people in the UK know about this? It was a decision made by the British.
But my post is not about history, it’s about how I felt when I was younger. I’d be embarrassed to wear Asian clothes, because sometimes people would point. Even now if I go out in shalwar kameez I get treated differently. Most recently, I was asked “Do you speak English?” I’ve also had wonderful exchanges. Friends interested in South Asian food, the culture. Absolute delight at being invited to my wedding. There really is a spectrum of people in this world isn’t there?
I got asked to do a challenge – post a picture of myself with the brief “we are beautiful the way we are.” So, I thought I’d share a photo in traditional Pakistani attire. I’m proud of being British but I’m also proud of my heritage. I’m proud of my family for coming to this country with nothing and building a life.
I’m not embarrassed anymore.
To my brown sisters; you are beautiful. Just the way you are.