Identity // ʌɪˈdɛntɪti
the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.
A child of an immigrant of Indian descent, the struggles of growing up and establishing an identity was quite a struggle. If you asked those around of my identity they’d state she’s Indian, yet Indians would class me as British. Caught between two cultures yet not appearing to belong to either. I felt like an outcast and being shy didn’t help my case, I was the strange child, that not many would play with me. Trying desperately to fit in as no-one seemed to resemble me, a brown skin beauty with bushy eyebrows and curly hair with a mentality that was beyond her years. This rich melanin seemed like a problem to the younger me, who wanted nothing more than the acceptance of her peers because she was never taught that brown was beautiful. Instead, she was stuck, looking at the western depiction of beauty as the media didn’t represent her race. Categorised as everything other than beauty, her physical identity was up in the air, but that was only part of the problem.
Labelling continues even in adulthood, we define others as it’s easier to comprehend, but how we see others is a reflection of ourselves. No matter what label you attach to me, just remember I’m human first. The label doesn’t define me, it merely gives an insight into the personality of an individual. Yes I’m Asian, Indian, and Punjabi but that doesn’t automatically mean my rotis are round or my accent is exotic; nor does it mean I know everything about 1984 (Sikh genocide) or the rich culture we hold. Here comes part two of the identity crisis, the history I wanted to know about wasn’t on the school syllabus, nor did I have relatives to teach me about the past. At the time, it wasn’t a big issue, I just wanted to pass my exams and hang out with friends. As I grew older, I got more curious about my background, but it wasn’t as easy to dive into the journey of self-teaching about Indian history. Where do I start? What am I interested in learning? Especially as history was never an interesting subject to me. Again the matter was put on hold, I redirected my energy towards hip-hop music, I slowly started to learn about the culture, though not mine, it was an interesting starting point. Music has always had an influence on me, when I discovered Toronto rappers Humble The Poet and Noyz from Zoo Babies, I was excited. They were speaking about the history I wanted to know more of in musical form, so I absorbed every word. These two creatives encouraged me to intellectually challenge myself, gain more knowledge and understand my roots.
Glowing from within, I’m on a journey of self-love and acceptance, breaking free from societal norms I embrace my inner queen. Beauty resides within, society doesn’t define this concept, we do, we all have that power, beauty is us, everyone single individual. Be bold, kind and most importantly woke.
What would you identify as?
Until next time, stay fabulous,