What Am I?
I was born and brought up in the UK. I am the first generation of my family to be born here. So what am I? Sure, I am British but am I also English? When asked what am I the first word that comes out of my mouth is English and interestingly many people that asked me the question say ‘no, you’re not white’ But what has the colour of my skin got do with what I am. We are the only country in the world that distinguishes between English and British, English being white and British being non-white. How does this make any sense? Have you ever looked at a census form, well here is an example:
All those that live and are born in the UK are all British but it is also used for people who were not born in this country but have a British passport. I identify with being English regardless of the colour of my skin. Am I wrong? If you look at the census form all they do is distinguish between colour not where a person was born. Just look at C) Asian/Asian British, my interpretation of this description means are you Asian with or without a British passport. Why are these forms necessary? Well, I read the following:
‘this guidance is to help those who would like to collect and present ethnic group, national identity and religion data from social surveys in the UK, for example, social researchers, public bodies, etc.’
‘Ethnic group, religion and national identity are self-identification measures reflecting how people define themselves.’
So where is my option to define myself as English/Mixed Race? This explanation of ‘how we define ourselves contradicts the options on the forms. If it is to help produce surveys etc, why is the colour of my skin relevant, should it not be what I think and I think English. I think in English, when I dream I dream in English. Therefore, would my views not reflect what I believe as an English person?
I was born in the 1970’s and for as long as I can remember I have heard, comments like ‘go back to your own country’ well in my mind I do not have to go far. This land that my feet walks upon is my country and the only country I have ever known. I was born in a UK hospital and educated in UK schools and work and pay taxes in the UK. Therefore, what makes me any less than a white British person? Why do I need to be defined by the colour of my skin? Why do people say ‘you’re not white, so you’re not English?’ I am proud of whom I am and what I am is of a mixed cultural heritage but predominantly English. So, when white British people sit in the sun and end up darker than me, does that mean they can no longer tick white British? I know I’m being flippant but I’m trying to make a point. A friend of mine who is white was born and brought up in India to English white parents and indeed has an Indian name, identifies herself as Indian and rightly so. So why can I not identify myself as English? Just because I eat curries does not make me Indian!!!
My Englishness and my loyalty to this country and its citizen’s makes me appalled when I see people abusing our national health service and the support providing in this country, in my country when I feel they are not entitled. When I watch the world cup, I route for England, which to me is normal, I am English.
A friend of mine born and brought up in the UK, whose parents were born in Pakistan, spent a week or so in Saudi Arabia and when she came back she was fuming. The English Asian expats that have moved there, to live and work tax free, come back to the UK when they need medical treatment and indeed state that they will return when they retire. They are currently living in a tax-free country and for decades have not paid tax in my country, where do they have the right to use my country’s medical care and indeed a apply for government aid when they retire. Have they paid taxes in this country, no. They think that holding a British passport makes them entitled. I do not care whether they were born here or not and I do not care whether they are Asian, white or African etc. In my opinion, they are and should not be entitled.
What about the people that attempt time and time again to enter the UK and most actually succeeding and once there feet touches this soil, are then looked after by my government. How is any of this fair? I am not talking about refugees who will die if they remain in their own countries
The census forms are trying to distinguish between colour and country you originate from but do nothing to distinguish between who was born here and who was not. What does originate mean? In my mind it means the country you are born in. Frankly, I am insulted when I see ‘Asian/Asian British or African/ African British’ now if it read ‘English Asian or English African or even English/Mixed Race then yes I would be happy to complete it. What am I? I am English/mixed Race.
I remember years ago visiting my parents country, Mauritius and Rodrigues, the countries they were born and brought up in and I was referred to as a coconut. Yes, some of you may say that was a racist term but funny enough I understood it perfectly, brown on the outside and white inside. They did not consider me as one of them, they consider me as English. Therefore, when some right wing extremist say go back to your own country, well which country am I supposed to go too. ‘Back’ in this context means where you originate from and I originate from the UK. My parents however originate from Mauritius and Rodrigues and yes, they are British Mauritians and British Rodrigues, but I am English British.
With education comes understanding and the lack of education makes many British born individuals identifying themselves as Indian, African and so on but you are not. In certain parts of this country I have seen signs that have been placed stating ‘do not enter we are ruled by Sharia’ I’m sorry people, are you ignorant. You are in the UK and therefore should abide by the laws of this country. If you consider Sharia as the law you should follow then leave, go back to where you were born or where your parents were born. You clearly do not identify yourself as English. English has nothing to do with religion and if you do not understand this then you need to be educated. Would you be happy if the English decide to go to other countries and dictate British law? No, you would not these would countries fight back. Sure that happened in the past and look how that turned out. Therefore, why in the UK, my country, are we tolerating such behaviour? A Muslim friend told me that the Quran states ‘abide by the laws of the soil your feet touches’ or words to that affect. So why are you introducing Sharia to this country? Why are you failing to abide by this countries law? Alternatively, indeed what the Quran states.
I am sick and tired of being defined by the colour of my skin!!!! Because, a few decide to behave like idiots. I am not them. Those that feel the need to follow what they perceive as the right law which contradicts the law of this country, why are you happy to use the British law to apply for benefits or indeed free health care and use the law of this country when it suits you? Does Sharia dictate that this is permitted? I actually do not know and if any of you have clearer facts, please let me know.
I remember years ago being in a pub and listening to some right wing extremist saying ‘these people are all taking our jobs, we are English, these jobs are ours’. Well, I actually went up to them and said ‘I am happy for you to have my job, now do you have a degree and you will also need two post graduate diplomas in ……. Oh and by the way I consider myself English’ the look on their faces were priceless and they had nothing further to say. If you feel like this than get educated and have the jobs, you feel you are entitled to.
The immigration policies changed after World War II due to labour shortage. Immigrants answered Britain’s calls for a labour force not just from Europe but from the commonwealth and many will remember seeing so many immigrants working in London Transport, factories etc and my parents were one of them. Yes, there was a labour shortage but there was also high unemployment and many white British preferred to collect government aid then to go and do jobs they felt was beneath them. Yet today these same jobs are being fought for and some feel that we non-white British born individuals should not be entitled to them. So, our parents and our great grandparents were good enough to help this great nation when it was in need but now you no longer wants us or need us, we should go back, but back to where? Are you crazy we may be first and second generation English but we are, as entitled as you right wing extremists are. We are English.
If anyone asks my child my, what are you? He will tell them, English, as simple as that. We live in a country that is so diverse in culture, food and languages. We are so lucky to be so enriched to be living here. Are we not part of this land, therefore one nation who should be living, and working together to enrich the nation that has given us so much? Are we not English born and thus English and yes most of us have been really, lucky to have experienced another culture but that does that not make us any less English.
I am English and proud of it and no one can tell me differently.
(This article has not been written, to offend and is simply the views of the writer)