Tag Archives: ethnicity

Identity and ethnicity, how we come to use and need the different ways which we describe ourselves

You’re about to read about my ethnic or racial identity; it’s personal and I expect it to be treated with respect. If you cannot oblige, please try to stop reading now.

For too many any discussion of identity provokes an immediate authoritarian, polarised reaction and that reaction, that thoughtless, immediate, instinctive response is a part and parcel of the kernel of racism. So, please take this opportunity to watch your own reactions as though they were someone else’s and reflect on your own reactions too, allowing those with a sense of a minority identity a degree of flexibility and control.

For me my earliest ideas of identity formed very early in life and were exciting, something special and to be open about, I was aware by the age of three that I spoke and understood both Bengali – a language without gendered pronouns – and English, with its greater focus on gender. By the time I was four, I described myself as “Bengali”, though born in south west London to a professional, middle class family which lived in north and central London since the late 1920’s, however I am still asked where I am really from. I had at the time never been to Bangladesh or India, but I am a part of my global family and its global identity is Bengali or, in Bengali, Bangali. The language has a surprising amount in common with Russian, both grammar and vocabulary. Our family was from the parts of Bangladesh nearest India, and I was told that 400 years previously had relocated from Rajasthan. The family tree was in the Jagannath Mandir (temple) in Puri, and when I first went there, aged 11, my existence also was recorded. Hindus are prohibited, I was told, from marrying any blood relative who was directly related within seven generations on that tree.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Opinion: Representation and politics

As an Asian member of the party I feel a strong need to speak up. The Diversity Agenda discourse on the question of ethnicity is heartening because it recognises that people like me ought to be represented and about time too. However, do I feel either not represented or under represented because of the lack of a non-pale face at the top? No, I don’t.

Why? Racial integration is a marvellous bridge. If representation is about sending a message of inclusion to a part of society that has been marginalised before then I don’t need a Brown face at the …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments
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