British | Indian
I identify as 100% Bristolian. Completely British too. Ethnically: Mixed Indian and British. I was born in South Africa and my Mother’s family are Kenyan Asian, so I identify with those aspects of my heritage too. I’m an Atheist, although find a lot of guidance from Hinduism and am interested in all religious teachings. My Mum is Punjabi, born in Nairobi, Kenya. My Dad is British, born in West Devon, with English and Scottish heritage. They met in Bristol while at Uni, and the combination of Devon and Bristol is why I identify so much with the West-Country.
I recognised I was mixed-race around secondary school. I absolutely believe that where I grew up had an effect on how I identify with my dual heritage, Bristol is such a diverse city, with a mixed heritage of its own, and even a mixed-race mayor. The city embraces that and its part of what makes it such a brilliant place to live and grow up in. So does the UK as a whole, and I’ve lived here since before my first birthday, so Britain is really all I’ve known.
Luckily both of my parents came from very progressive, open-minded, multicultural families, so there weren’t too many problems with them combining their cultures during my upbringing. I didn’t have any significant problems other than the usual from being a bit Brown. Some people get confused that African people can be Asian too, despite being perfectly aware that British people can be of all backgrounds. My environment I don’t think played a part in how I chose my friends & partners. I’ve lived in a few different, quite distinct environments and you meet good people pretty much anywhere.
Well I’m British so I like UK rap of course. I also love all the old British rock bands: Queen, Led Zep, the Beatles, the Stones and so on. One of my mixed-race icons is Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy too. Both Brits and Indians love Indian food so that could have come from either, although I love cooking Punjabi food and try to learn from my family. Being Bristolian I love Cider of course. In terms of language, I taught myself Hindi around the age of 19 and enjoy speaking it, and I’m alright at swearing in Punjabi too from when my Mums had a go at me on the odd occasion at home. For fashion, I like wearing the odd traditional Indian shirt, which I’ll wear alongside English-style tight trousers sometimes. Being Indian has definitely had a huge influence on my hair. It has always got to be the skin fade! It’s a very common cut for British Asians and I get it from St Giles barbers who do an immaculate skin-fade which I’d highly recommend.
I like to visit India when I can, and often people there quite like it, they call me a ‘mixed vegetable’ (after the curry). They are also pleasantly surprised when a White-looking bloke from England can speak their language. Also, in Oxford the Mixed-Race Society is full of really lovely people so the events are always great.
My perceptions of Oxford before I arrived were that it would be a bit like school but with more freedom, which it was. I chose Somerville College in part because of the large mixed-heritage and state school community. I’ve experienced some pretty non-casual racism where another student pretty viciously told me to go back to Africa. It was quite upsetting to be honest, but I saw it as a good opportunity to practice forgiveness, so I shook his hand and put it behind me. Other than that people here are very culturally aware. I’ve experienced less racism here than other environments I’ve lived in in the past. My Mum always said that there will always be racism, but if you get an education and a bit of money you can move away from it. Although I’m more interested in trying to change it. I do on the whole think that Oxford has a welcoming environment. It’s not as White as people think, there are plenty of Asians particularly. Everywhere has a few difficult people, but nearly everyone is really nice. My experiences at Oxford have made me less aware of my status as a mixed-race person if anything. It’s really not a big deal here, whereas in very White environments, such as the military, it’s a bit different. I think our racial discourse focuses on other under-represented groups, but I don’t have a problem with that personally. I feel that the Oxford Mixed Heritage Society has given me a sense of community and belonging at Oxford. It’s a great society to meet people and has brilliant events and speakers, I really recommend it.
If I had the opportunity to be born again I would want to return as a house cat. What a chilled-out life! Enough to make anyone jealous. Dolphins also seem to have a pretty good time.
In the context of the University of Oxford, we hope our names; faces and stories will emphasis that there is a place for everyone at Oxford. According to last year’s admissions data, 700 Oxford undergraduates identify as mixed. In 2016, BAME students accounted for 15.9% of the undergraduate intake. Oxford is diversifying, albeit slowly. We hope to empower mixed heritage students at Oxford and foster a community where they can safely share their own opinions, experiences and stories.