Creating a culture

Culture (noun) 'the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society' says Google.

Culture has become a word which I have felt more and more detached from with age. It's become more of an argument than an idea. It's become a disagreement. For most, it is rather too easy to say we are going to discuss or assign something to a 'culture'. For example, I say samosa and you already have an image in your mind of a certain culture. You see a skin colour and you can't help but assume what their cultural background is. Your brain then has the job of deciding whether your pre-assumed bits of information are reasonable or not and you filter things out depending on what kind of person you are. It's a shame we don't see people as people through colourblind eyes really. Truth of the matter is, no matter how 'multi-cultural' we all think we are, the mere concept of culture in itself is divisive. 

There comes the positive with this; identity, heritage, pride etc. And then there are the things which you may be missing entirely about culture.

I was born with brown skin, to asian parents in England. Many of us can repeat this sentence. Which cultural bracket do I fit into? On a form, I'm usually forced to tick 'Asian' under ethnicity.

Ah, let's talk about ethnicity (noun) 'the fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.'

So, apparently, form, I belong to the Asian 'group' and 'we' have common 'ideas'. Do 'we', mate? Before a red blanket of fury ensues and my typing becomes frantic, I just want to say that I have absolutely no embarrassment or qualms with where my ancestors are from and what their background is. But also, I don't feel like I take any particular pride in it neither. If anything, I am indifferent to it. Whether or not you agree with this or not, this is me merely stating how I feel and not claiming that it is right or wrong to feel this way.

I am not naive to the fact that customs are widely associated with geographical locations. What I know is this; my ideas, customs and social behaviours do not match those of my parents therefore this would indicate a cultural difference. I.E. my culture is not that of theirs and vice versa. Let alone my ancestors. And the mere thought that despite 30 years of adulthood, being born and bred in England, having a husband who is born and bred Scottish and still my child who has never and is likely to have never any need to visit the subcontinent where his grandmother was born, will be ticking a box on a form where he is 'ASIAN' is just...exhausting.

The mere notion of 'ethnic background' is just baffling because where does the trail stop?! Pakistan was once part of India so who is telling my parents that their ethnicity has changed and they no longer have the right to go by their grandparents' place of birth, and if 'ethnic origin' is in this instance defined by place of birth then what an outrageous bias that my child with two British born parents is not indeed British on a form but defined by his grandparents' place of birth?! Are you with me? The forms may aswell say 'skin colour' as opposed to ethnic origin. In all honesty, all this does is create an identity crisis and a generation of people who are unsure where they belong.

The thing with culture is that you cannot force somebody into a box which was not designed for them. The culture and the ways in which our grandparents have grown up is different to that of our parents and furthermore to that of ours- regardless of what colour skin you may have. Each of us more than likely has elements of their upbringing and the ways of their ancestors still firmly a part of how they do things but the majority of what we do and how we live is ever-evolving. We are, instead, creating our own cultures all of the time without realising it. Instead of being 'particular people' I am just a person trying to fit my views and beliefs into my own life. Inevitably, some of this will come from things passed down and some from my own way of thinking. My child will do the same and find his own ways of living and thinking and I would hate for him to accept the widely spoken notion of "you can say what you want but they will still call you a..." 

To Squish growing up I say, darling I love you and I love your beautiful brown skin but you owe nothing to this world where you must behave in a certain way based on your colour. You grow, wonderful boy, into a good person first and foremost. Care and love and respect with all your heart and learn about the world in all its glory but find where you belong in your own way. You don't belong to anywhere just because a form says so, so feel no pressure or guilt that you don't have any connection or emotional attachment to such place. And to anybody who would like to tell you who or what you are, politely acknowledge that their judgements say more about their character than yours. In the end, we're all people with the same organs keeping us alive and the same colour of blood running through our veins.

P.S. If you didn't picture them samosas with a side of chips, we can't be friends. ;)



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