This article is both influenced by and a comment on an article published by Jaya Saxena titled “Explaining My Multi Racial Heritage (So Others Don’t Do It For Me).
I thought this article would be good starting point to explain how Third Atlantic came about in the first place. But it’s not the whole story. On purpose. I hope that both you and I will eventually put all the links together and figure it out.
No one has ever successfully guessed my heritage. When people ask, I like to play a guessing game with them just to see if anyone has even the faintest idea. Here is the answer. I am Anglo-Indian. No one has heard of that term. I should say that no one has ever suggested or guessed that term.
I can’t explain the long the history of Anglo-Indians right now. It’s too long and too complicated and I’m still learning about it myself. In the months to come I will be slowly presenting a historical project detailing my family’s history in India, the UK and their final destination in Canada.
For right now just know that Anglo -Indians are a mix of East Indian and British heritage. When asked which parent is white and which is East Indian, I say they are both mixed and that someone, somewhere, sometime ago was white and one was brown and they had babies and those babies made more brown babies.
“Context allows people to assume, and also determines whether or not someone is assuming in your favor. Despite a lifetime of people demanding to know “what” I am, I never actually know until someone else tells me.” Jaya Sexena.
In Jaya Sexena’s article “Explaining My Multiracial Identity”, she suggests that “people’s false assumptions about what people can and look like, about who could possibly exist”can be a burden. Let me be clear: those that can incite violence and restrict social and economic mobility can and do. I’ve been fortunate however. Sheltered from any physical or mental violence, having spent all my life living in what I thought were racial mixed suburbs and living a rather comfortable middle class life.
At times i find those false assumptions a great conversation starter. A means to educate those about about my background. About the history and narrative about my families time in India and a constant mobile life that traverses the globe. Places where the term motherland has no meaning.
For a long time I didn’t really think that much about my racial identity. For the most part I don’t. That is until someone asks me. In a a lot of cases whomever I am around just assumes that I am one of them at first.
I’ve been called Jewish, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Persian, African -American (actually the other word that begins with N), Indian and Pakistani (actually the other word that begins with P and is only 4 letters long). In a lot of cases people just assume I am a dark white person. Someone with a really good tan.
Thing is, I feel more Anglo than Indian. I was raised in Canada and grew up on British and North American culture. My parents themselves had been brought up from their early twenties onwards in England and moved to Canada a year before I was born.
As I got older learning more about geopolitics and colonialism, I also recognize that a part of myself can never be British, nor would I want to be a proud colonialist bully. At times I joke that I have colonized myself. I also don’t recognize myself as Canadian either because honestly what does that even mean.
So here it is before me, now and forever. An Anglo-Indian of mixed British and East Indian descent. Someone who participates and finds a greater connection in cultures that I was not born into (see mixes and events on this site). Up until this moment I always considered myself a citizen of the Western world and entitled to all of its privileges and cultures regardless of the colour of my skin.
I also have an inability to articulate feeling exposed and significantly different and for the most of my life, outnumbered. A life long struggle to find a place (physically and symbolically) where I belong.
I do know that I don’t want to make any allegiances to any one side. Lately I find myself defending my anglo friends when I read or hear things that sound like ”fuck all white people”. At the same time I continue and will continue to fight for people of colour. The problem is I have to accept my situation in the middle. That is the burden.
Someone will always ask me to pick sides, but I won’t. I’m not brown enough and I’m not white enough. I’ve come to believe that I exist in a “Third” space. One that is at times contradictory and definitive: no defined image yet obviously a “colour”, everywhere and nowhere in particular, and accepted but not trusted.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY JAYA SAXENA BELOW: