I am tired.
I am tired of questioning whether decisions made about me or for me have racist undertones. I am tired of seeing the white Western world profit off of its watered-down yoga and “golden milk” lattes, with no acknowledgement of the culture being appropriated.
I am tired of seeing people post about the microaggressions they face as members of the BIPOC community. It’s 2021. This shouldn’t still be happening.
I am tired of being embarrassed about my culture’s food. When I was in Grade 2, I starved rather than pull my Nani’s veggie curry out of my bag—I was terrified of having a “smelly” lunch.
I am tired of seeing brands sell forehead jewels and call it “fashion.” Ten years ago, when Indian women wore tikkas, they were called “dot heads.”
I am tired of prefacing sentences with, “My parents are modern—my mom was pretty much raised here,” so that I seem more white. So that people don’t think my parents are old-fashioned, stereotypical immigrants with accents. It’s taken me 28 years to realize that it’s not me who needs to assimilate, though—it’s their stereotypes that need to be broken. It’s their points of reference that need to change.
I am tired of seeing the dominant race profit off the culture and identity they made me so ashamed to be part of growing up.
I am tired of having to be the token Indian or BIPOC individual in the room, standing up for diversity or calling out appropriation. Black squares and Instagram Story shares are not enough. It’s time to see the results of our promised actions.
I am tired of being asked, “But no, where are you really from?” I’m really from my mother’s womb—is that good enough for you? My ancestors were tricked into indentured servitude, unknowingly taken from their motherland to Fiji. Now, we reside in Vancouver (on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples). I’ve spent 28 years trying to figure out “where” I’m from and “what” I am. Indian? Fijian? What I know for sure is that I’m Canadian. Because I was born here.
I am tired of referring to myself as an “Oreo” or “coconut”—brown on the outside but white on the inside. Why do we say that as if it’s something to brag about? I used to feel good when friends would tell me, “I forget that you’re not white.” But honestly, I am ashamed of that now. Because if you’re mistaking everything about me except for the color of my skin, that means I’ve lost my culture and my heritage.
I am tired from the time and effort I have taken to learn about racism and aggressions of all kinds against other minorities—while shouldering the same or similar issues myself. Where are the allies? Because from where I stand, it’s still the BIPOC community doing the damn work.