November 27 – get down on brown

126/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I have been told that I am the whitest brown guy ever. It started way back when I was in my teens and that’s a long time ago since I am currently starting my 50s!! Growing up in north west Richmond, I had no clue what that really meant until I realized that yes, I had a total different upbringing from my brethren (and sisteren) of Indo-Canadian heritage. I was one of a handful of Indo-Canadian kids born and raised in a predominantly Euro-centric neighbourhood but was totally unaware of the fact that skin colour was a defining factor. Not having Indian/Indo-Canadian pop-culture role models, I easily assimilated to the popular ethnic culture as I had nothing to compare myself to. No Indo-Canadian role models back in the 1970s or even the early 1980s but as I aged, I realized I was different from those around me but I never thought it had anything to do with my ethnicity as I wasn’t cognizant of the fact. Looking back at my formative years, I often wonder what it would have been like to have celebrities/athletes/role models representing my culture/heritage/ethnicity. I now look at my two kids who have grown up with Indo-Canadian role models who are predominant in sports, fashion, beauty, culture and politics and are proud of their ethnic heritage. Yes, I didn’t have that but I take pride vicariously in the fact that I am represented by Harjit Sajjan who is our Minister of Defence, Priyanka Chopra who is the lead in Quantico, Aishwarya Rai who is a Bollywood Queen and also the biggest Beauty Queen, Russell Peters who is one of the forerunners in comedy, Manny Malhotra representing in the NHL – the list goes on. Yes, I am a decade or two too late to revel in their glory but I am so very happy that my children have role models that they can be proud of that represent who they are based on the mere fact of ethnic heritage.  I am so very proud of my ethnicity/culture of being a part of our Canadian culture and am finally proud to admit that I am also a part of that culture which I denied for a large part of my existence because of some sort of shame that I can not explain.  Thank you Indo-Canadian and Indian role models for allowing me to be proud of myself and my ethnic heritage!

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