‘White kids get to wear whatever that they want, when it comes to black kids one size fits all’- Childish Gambino
I guess this is going to be another post about identity and labels, another post where I complain about being sorted racialiased into boxes all the time.
I started my third and final year at Uni this week and like every year there are so many societies and clubs I’d like to join. But hopefully, unlike in the previous years, this time round I will actually join.
You see the thing that puts me off is not the membership fee or the meeting times, it’s the expectations. I always wanted to join the Harry Potter soc but was worried. Why? Because people like me can’t like Harry potter right? Because brown people, or in my case, brown, Muslim, scarved people cannot be anything more than their physical appearance.
I guess what I’m trying to say is BME identity is ALWAYS constructed as simple and one-dimensional. There is nothing more to you than meets the eye.
There are sooo many occasions at Uni where I feel like my likes and dislikes don’t matter, my sense of humour and political views are deemed irrelevant because they get in the way. They get in the way of other [white] students preconceptions of me. It seems they can’t comprehend that there can be more to who I am than my headscarf and skin colour.
To these people I am not their friend. I am their [token] Asian or hijabi friend and I am not allowed to be anything more. My physical appearance is all there is to me, the sole definiton of my being.
I feel as though I am constantly having to go out of my way to show that yes I am human, that I like nerdy shows and am crazy about fantasy/dystopian books, that I am not one dimensional.
It frustrates me that in this world white people have so much flexibility; they can be hipsters, gaming nerds and bookworms, artists, singers;they can be complex, they can be people. And more than anything, they can be this on top of being white. Yet it seems I’m still struggling with their insistance that I can never be anything but brown/Muslim. The worst thing about it is that while these one-dimensional construction of coloured and/or muslim bodies may be a product of colonialism and white socities, they are now so deeply ingrained in society that they are enforced by people from both outside and, more rarely within these community circles.
And like everytime I feel responsible to try and change that perception and to not let it define me like I have in previous years I become the exception.