September 15 – the whitest brown guy

53/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. This is another reverse gratitude post and I am probably going to get some flak for it but so be it. For most of my life, I have been told that I am not brown/Indian enough. This criticism came most often from, but was not limited to, my fellow Indo-Canadians. I don’t know if this is a way of shaming me for having likes and associations seen as atypical of my ethnic norm or for being born and raised in Canada in the 60s (while many were immigrants) – something that I had no control of in any way. I have been told that I am trying to be “white”. Initially, I took these types of comments to heart as I thought that perhaps on some unconscious level I was actually denying my ethnicity. It was bad enough growing up being shunned by most of the teenagers in my elementary and high school for being overweight, nerdy, having adhd and being ethnic but also not being able to relate to my own ethno-cultural group just made things that much more worse. I am open and honest about not knowing much about my ethnic heritage, language, cultural aspects and the list goes on BUT this does not make me any less Indian, just uninformed and yes, that I can be blamed for if you must. However, I can also say that my differences in likes and preferences is what makes me distinctive. I am not ashamed of this – in fact, I wholeheartedly embrace my own self-imposed label of the “whitest brown guy” – I love being different and standing out from the crowd. I do thank you, my shamers, for trying to make me feel inadequate in your estimation of what you feel that I, given my ethnic heritage and skin colour, should be BUT I say to you that ethnicity and skin colour doesn’t make me who I am – it’s my individuality that makes me who I am. Like me, laugh with me, love me, enjoy me, hate me, feel sorry for me, disregard me because of me not because of the ethnicity that I was born with – that doesn’t define me! Shukria & Sat Sri Akaal.

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