Archive for the ‘Multi culturalism’ Category

I had to write this, so that I can hopefully rid myself of the annoyance I felt and yes, also the disappointment experienced, at seeing/ hearing what I am about to write about.

It frustrates me that in the same weekend I watch the Sports Relief programme and feel so overwhelmed by stories like that of John Bishop and consequently feel proud to be British(part British but still), I watch an episode of Britain’s Got Talent and watch a significant proportion of the audience loudly boo a contestant when he simply announces that he is from Germany!

Seriously people? Do we live in a society so ignorant that we would do something like this? Beyond pathetic,is what I call it. Before anyone jumps down my throat with the excuse that not everyone would have done that, please take note that it was still enough of a number that enabled the jeering to be so loud that it was clearly audible. Simon Cowell, from the judge’s panel, had to actually intervene with his comment about we are all past that and it was all a long time ago (or words to that effect). To me, that audience arguably consists of a representative sample of the British public, and that reaction is simply unpardonable.

I also give no quarter to the excuse that it may have been tongue in cheek and possibly intended to be funny. Well, it is not funny, I do not buy that for a second and people need to understand the difference between a joke and discrimination. I will have to curb myself from expressing detailed views on the institutional racism/discrimination prevalent in this “modern”, “advanced” world we live in as I fear this post will go of for too many pages, so I shall have to revisit that issue another day. For now, as I cannot unfortunately round up those ignorant people myself and tell them how ridiculous they sound, I need to be content with writing it here.

I know a lot of people are not ignorant or discriminatory but this is aimed at those who are. It is a shame to know that there are people who only have to look a relatively short while back in their own history to remind themselves that their nation arbitrarily ruled over various countries under the guise of trade and colonisation, who do not think there is anything wrong in mocking someone for simply being German! Wake up Britain- let us leave aside the fact that the talent often depicted in that show is often questionable, you need to practise more of your preaching on tolerance and multi-cultural living. Look to fix what is wrong in your own backyard first My experience of Germany ironically suggests that they have, whereas after that offensive display during that show, I somehow suspect we have not, and that there may be some work to do on this front.

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I think I must start this post by clarifying that it is not intended to patronise anyone, but is rather a response to numerous comments over the years by people who have claimed to get very confused by my somewhat admittedly varied background.

I am of Indian origin, I was born and brought up in Africa and have lived in the UK (give or take a year) since I was 18. I speak a number of Indian and other languages fluently (but am totally bilingual where English is concerned). I have a lot of family in India and I am a “practising” Hindu but have never lived in India. I look Indian, I believe (although I do often get asked if I am Persian or Lebanese, particularly by US Custom officials!,) but a lot of people tell me that they wouldn’t guess I am Gujarati (from the state of Gujarat in Western India). I am often mistaken to be North Indian or Gujarati Muslim. Yes, Gujarat is predominantly a Hindu state but there are a lot of Gujarati Muslims too. Anyone getting confused yet?

Now take the above factors, plonk one in England, and then try to get them to explain this during “party talk” to people mainly guzzling huge quantities of alcohol, which one does not drink (no I am not Muslim, I am Hindu but I still don’t drink and it is a grey area whether Hindus are “allowed” to drink or not, it depends on your family, was probably originally caste dictated but is now very much dictated by individual circumstances), and you have a fairly difficult time of it. Welcome to my world!

I am surprised I am not confused myself when I describe it like that but I promise you, it is all very clear in my head and heart both. I am that product of the new multicultural society we live in where the world is indeed a much smaller place and the boundaries of race, culture, background, very much blurred. I like to think it has made me more tolerant and well rounded and despite the confusion it seems to cause, leads to some interesting conversations (at least with those who are in a state to remember it the next morning). However, sadly, as much as I like to think that a lot of people are very informed in terms of diversity and that ignorance is confined to the minority, I must acknowledge that it may not be that simple and we may have a long way to go before people can easily grasp the concepts I have only vaguely summarised above.

And before anyone attacks me for alleging that I am implying that there is an issue with this in England, I happily accept that this is an affliction not restricted to any specific country, it spans continents, the educated or otherwise, and is also not dictated by the gender divide. In short, millions of people from various countries, varied backgrounds and races can, and do, suffer from not having a clue when it comes to being aware of cultural overlap. All in all, those pundits who spout about diversity and how multi-cultural a lot of the world has now become, please note that we have only just begun to scratch the surface of embracing a genuinely global society.

I will sign off by mentioning that I am about to marry an Englishman (of part Maltese origin) but will be keeping my Indian surname, which often gets mistaken for Italian. God bless (and help) any children we may have! We shall talk about whether I think of God as Krishna or the father of Jesus Christ another time.

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