Spanish | Indian
When asked how I identify I tend to say Spanish and Indian. On official forms I’m Mixed White/Asian. My parents both grew up in London and met at a party through mutual friends in their 20s. My Mum’s parents are Indian, and my Dad was brought up by his Spanish mother. Being mixed-race is not something I considered until I was about 6 or 7 and my parents were involved in an article for the Independent about the rise of inter-racial marriages. (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/focus-can-a-marriage-survive-the-cultural-divide-7907022.html. - the section by Joanna Moorhead halfway down). It’s still something I didn’t think I thought about much until my teens.
I grew up in a fairly cosmopolitan (but primarily White) area of London, but I went to a secondary school where the majority of people were South or East Asian. This meant that actually I was considered to be one of the few White people in my year at school. At school race was something that was very salient because of how different the ethnic makeup was to the rest of Britain and London.
At first my Grandparents didn’t approve of the fact that my Mum was going to be marrying a White guy, but by the time we were kids they had obviously put it all behind them. I was brought up Catholic, but we still celebrated Hindu celebrations such as Diwali. We always had to lie to our Indian grandparents if we had to leave their house on a Sunday to go to church because they were never told that my Dad was bringing us up as Catholics.
Throughout my teens I found it difficult having to think about whether people with saw my identity as being White, mixed, or Indian. Lots of people wouldn’t believe that I was half Indian until they met my Mum, as I’m quite pale. Now that I have longer hair and a beard people find it easier to see the Indian in me, but people still make comments like that from looking at me Mediterranean makes sense, but not Indian. I was subject to some of the same racial slurs in the playground that would also be directed at fully South Asian boys, so learnt to try to pass for White if possible. I’m much more confident with expressing and celebrating my identity now though.
I love cooking and am obsessed with both Spanish and Indian cuisine. I have spent lots of time in Spain so also love the music of the Spanish speaking world and speak the language. I’m planning on doing some travelling after Uni to get more in touch with my Indian heritage. I’m hoping to do a trip involving going back to Jalandhar, the town my family are from, and other places of significance to my heritage. There’s a temple on the Ganges in Punjab that has a scroll with all my ancestors’ names on it.
While studying at Oxford I have had some comments regarding my ethnicity, there are people wherever you go that will make little comments that they don’t realise are offensive. I have definitely become more aware of my status as a mixed-race individual, but in a good way. While at Oxford I have definitely learned to love and appreciate my heritage much more.
If I had the opportunity to be reincarnated I would like to come back just as I am. I now feel very connected to both Indian and Spanish culture and have a great appreciation for them both; more so than British culture. I love London but find it difficult to connect with British values.
In the context of the University of Oxford, we hope our names; faces and stories will emphasise 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.