Scottish/Cape Malay | German/St Helenian
I'm a heterosexual Muslim Woman. When it comes to race classification I classify myself as a 'Coloured' Woman.
I'm multiracial, mixed with Cape Malay, Scottish, German and St Helenian ancestry. When explaining my mix or what I am to people who are not from South Africa it’s a bit hard. In South Africa I'm a coloured person, it's a race classification for people of mixed heritage given by the Apartheid government. I know that for example in other places such as in America, being called coloured is a term used for a Black person. However, in SA its used to refer to both a specific ethnic group of complex mixed origins, which is considered neither Black nor White, and in other contexts to people of mixed-race. The term in its first essence was used to separate people of mix heritage (as well as to take away one’s blackness) from other African people.
Many older generations of my people do not like the term coloured, because it was forced upon them. My father doesn’t necessary like the term as well. But it’s completely different for me. I grew up with the generation that claimed that name, made it their own and made it not have a power over them. It’s who I am, it’s probably one of the reasons I don't have the same identity crisis or struggles most mixed people have. As they always trying to find their place in both their races or cultures or feeling torn between the two by society. Being coloured doesn't really have anything to do with skin colour because coloured people come in all shades from the fairest to the darkest. It's about culture, traditions, language and how we were raised.
It only really occurred to me that I could or would be considered mixed when I travelled overseas for the first time and people would ask me where I was from once I spoke and then would say South Africa. To many people it's hard to believe someone who is light skinned with green eyes is from Africa.
I never really considered being mixed because to me being mixed was always bringing two totally different cultures or races together. Whereas I already had a name to classify myself and people who looked like me and my Father and Mother's culture was very similar. The only way it differed was the Christian traditions my Dad's family had and my Mom's with her Islamic traditions.
My social environment does play a huge part in how I pick my friends and partners. I gravitate towards people who are open and have respect towards other people's cultures and religion. I do find that tends to be mixed people a lot of the time.
I do speak my parents’ native tongue which is Afrikaans but wish I spoke it as fluently as they do. However recently I have been learning my Great Grandfather's mother tongue which is German.
I connect most with my Cape Malay culture, because it’s a unity of my culture and faith. Its laughter, joy, family and food. My response to the question 'Where are you from?' is always that I am South African. It’s simple for me because that's what I am.
One positive is that I'm able to blend in with other people from a different country, I tend to look native until I speak. It allows people to easily speak to me but when they find out I'm not native it creates an honest and open conversation for them. I like to think that it allows me to open up people’s minds and perspective on what they see and how they interact with POC or people of different backgrounds and cultures.
If I was born again, I'd like to return the same way I am right now. I love the person I am and the different cultures that blended in together and allowed my beautiful culture to be created. My people and culture are people who have survived the worst yet still came out smiling and fighting.