Where do you come from?
Some context before I start. I am an immigrant to the country I call home. Unlike some narrow views I arrived into this country on an aeroplane, when I was 6 years old. I laugh when people ask their "I'm not a racist" joke, "did you come on a boat". Hilarious considering if you traced their origins, their ancestors came on a boat with chains around their hands.
So many of you like me would get asked where do you come from? I live in different part of the country to where I grew up. When people ask me "where are you from" and answer they get surprises them, "Brisbane". "What's your nationality?", ummm "According to my passport I'm Australia". Then i get a strange look and though I miss heard them. So I ask "you want to know my ethnicity?".... "err yeah that's it" is the reply. You thought it was hard to get to this point, well imagine when I explain where I was born and my actual genetics. Comprehending Indians in Fiji is hard, how on earth do people explain Caucasians in Australia?
In the world we live in how do any of us explain where we are from. Migration has been happening across many millennia. Do we all know where we came from? Why is it so important? I'm sure to one's self it gives a sense of belonging but how much? I have been advised many times I have an identity crisis. I am so many things that I can be any culture or ethnicity I want. For those of us with an ancestry based in colonisation, imperialism or immigration and now globalisation where are we from? Can we be everything or must we belong to one? Are we confused about our identity? Do we have to assimilate into the culture we live in? If you grew up in a dominant culture are you really assimilating?
Identity crisis or not, I am a child of the Earth or Universe as I say but underneath I sometimes wonder if it would be easier to be just one thing. I would like to think I am jack of many cultures and master of none. I get to choose what I am. I no longer belong to my or my ancestors' past and the present I must embrace even though it may not embrace or accept me. You cannot forgot what you came from, it builds you, giving you foundation to build more, higher stronger and more resilient. People like me become adaptable to our surroundings. The question that nags me is, am I really choosing what I am or am I choosing to adapt myself to make others more comfortable with what I am? Sometimes I feel as though I am trying to prove I am not a foreigner. In amongst Indians, I try and talk up my Indianess, amongst Fijians I talk up my Fijianess, the list goes on. I'm not sure why; is it to make the other person more comfortable or myself.
Our forefathers and foremothers went out in search of a better world through either their own will or being forced to, an adventure into the unknown but they did not realise the impact to their future generation. My writing is not to answer where you are from more, so why does it matter. For those of us from mixed heritages, religions, cultures, ethnicities or genetics I am sure we feel a sense of displacement. On the upside we take the best that each aspect has to offer for we are truly global citizens, our experience transcend borders.
Even though you maybe a first generation immigrant, as soon as you cross the original border you no longer belong there. Your memory and understanding of that culture and society is a snapshot of that moment in time. The more time you spend away from it the less you belong. Culture and society are always evolving. So must we also as a person, but someone needs to tell society that. For some reason we need to fit the boxes all societies and cultures put on us.
We cannot forget out pasts. However painful it is, we need to recognise it, be proud of it, and make sure we live the life the past dreamt for us- a better future. We grip onto the culture and beliefs of our past, so we can connect; connect to something that no longer exists. When we are in a foreign environment, we all long to belong to something. I am a product of colonisation. When those narrow minds say "go back to where you came from", where exactly am I going back to?