Malaysian-Indian | St. Kitts
I identify as mixed-race, Christian & heterosexual. My mum is from Malaysia but of Indian descent and my dad is from an island in the West Indies, St Kitts. I think I really noticed I was mixed-race in the later years of primary school/secondary school. I realised my features were quite different to those of my friends and after getting to know my mum’s family.
I grew up in a very multi-cultural area just on the outskirts of West London, a small town that goes by the name of Slough. When I think back to growing up all of my friends were from totally different ethnicities and religions and have naturally grown up with friends embracing their different cultures and heritage. In all honesty from getting to know both sides of my family and finally visiting where both of my parents grew up, there are actually more similarities than meets the eye. This probably explains how the marriage has lasted so long! Caribbean’s and Indians have a lot of similarities in terms of foods with both cultures loving to eat rice, curry, roti and lots of spices. Also, both of my parents came from a Christian background so in terms of values and beliefs they were pretty much the same, which I guess helped.
Also, both cultures have a love for music and dance although the music taste is very different in these cultures. But, the biggest difference from a cultural perspective I would say is the focus on family within the Indian culture which is an aspect I really love.
I definitely think there are some challenges growing up through secondary school, as ‘mixed-race’ seemed to only represent one dual-heritage for a lot of people e.g. ‘Black Caribbean/African and White British’. So, for you to deem yourself as ‘mixed-race’ but being of a darker skin tone than the standard mixed- race you were just seen or addressed as ‘Black’. So, for some time even up until very recently I would see myself as ‘Black’ due to my darker skin tone rather than ‘mixed-race’ which is in fact what I am. A blend of two cultures, Indian-Malaysian and Caribbean. Also, growing up this mix was very rare here in the UK but is now becoming more popular over time but when it came to check a box on any survey which asks for ethnicity, the option ‘Black Caribbean & Indian’ would never be an option. I would just need to tick ‘Mixed - Other’. This unconsciously puts you in to a category that suggests you are out of the norm almost.
I think your environment does play a part in how you choose friends/partners, but as mentioned I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a very multi-cultural area, so I have friends across all different descents and religions: Black Caribbean/African, Indian, Pakistani, English, European, Christian, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim. Never have either of these things been an issue amongst my friendships growing up, which I’m very grateful for.
I do think my culture does affect the way I relate to food to some extent. I naturally love Malaysian dishes as I have been raised eating these dishes from a relatively young age and will always love a good Caribbean meal. But, I would still pick an Italian or Steak place majority of the time for an evening meal as I have tasted these foods due to where I live and love it. In terms of music I would say my culture has influenced my taste to some extent, but I would say it is more environment than anything for me as I love house music and UK/London music at the moment. A lot of Caribbean’s love Soca music or bashment as that is a big part of the music culture there, but I have never grown to love it.
I’ve always had a pretty positive response when mentioning my mix to people as it seems to be an interesting mix to some people and I’ve loved being able to relate to different cultures and people due to my mix. You will naturally always float to people you have something in common with even if it is something as small as the way you would pronounce a word or a food dish you love to eat at
I think being mixed-race does impact how I blend into society at both work and social situations & connect to current trends, but from my perspective in a very positive way. As majority of companies now have a drive to include and work towards a diverse workforce, being mixed-race can definitely play as a strength I think. You can find yourself connecting with different people regardless of background as you have naturally grown up being open-minded to more than one culture. That is a skill some strive to have, being mixed-race it is almost innate to you.
If I had the opportunity to be reborn I would return as myself as there is nothing from a culture or background perspective I would wish to change. My parents are both from extremely beautiful parts of the world that I was lucky enough to experience and raised me with values that some may not of had the chance to experience. My upbringing from my parents’ cultures to the environment I have grown up in has enabled me to be the person I am today and I wouldn’t change that for the world.