I have spent the last few months finding my Black voice. With it, I have started telling my story in the hope that people will be able to recognise themselves in my words and find a safe space. With it, I have been calling out the Asian community I was brought up in, who have been too readily willing to accept the crude stereotypes of Black people prevalent in all societies. This includes members of my own family. It has been a long time coming.
I think it is only fair and honest to confront my own shortcomings on the matter.
My issues lie specifically in the realms of the dating game. I’ve noticed that I tend to pay Black men less attention. This is not something I am proud of. I carry deep shame along with it. Shame that I feel every time I speak up for my Black community knowing that I carry a type of prejudice myself.
I believe that there are two very strong, contrasting reasons for this. For context, I am half Jamaican and half Sri Lankan. I was brought up in Sri Lanka with my Sri Lankan mother and her family. My Blackness was something that was not addressed.
Embarrassment. I am embarrassed that I hardly know anything about my Black heritage because I was not exposed to that side of me. This ranges from not knowing if I am predisposed to certain genetic medical conditions when asked at the doctor’s office (because I don’t know if my biological father and his family have any), to not ever having a Jamaican home cooked meal and everything in between. I went on a date with a very handsome Black man not long ago. We went to get Caribbean food. I mentioned that I had never had a dumpling. I kid you not, this man looked at me as though I had murdered his mother. I find the story amusing; it’s one I tell to get a laugh, but with it comes something that cuts much deeper. What kind of Black man would want to be with a woman who knows nothing about her culture? Who knows nothing about half of herself? What kind of woman is that? I am very aware that these thoughts are only my own. They come with the territory of feeling like I am not Black enough.
Fear. My biological father is a Black man. His influence, or lack there of it, has been a very negative one. He is not someone I trust. He is not someone I respect. His actions have affected the lives of my loved ones greatly. I am so fearful of carrying on a damaged cycle if I end up with someone that resembles him in any way. I know that this is not rational. I know that it is not fair. I have had little to none Black influences in my life. This man is my gauge. He is all I have to go off. I am fearful of any child of mine paying for the sins of their father in the same way I have. My voice on this is one of a little girl who is frightened and angry. My opinion of him will never change.
What will change, what is changing, is me. I am growing. I am finally in a place where I don’t feel like I am not enough of each half of me. I am in a place where I feel comfortable being the in between. It is a powerful place. It is a place that gives me great insight and strength. I am now surrounded by kind-hearted, giving, loving, Black people. Good Black people. Good Black men. It has been a humbling experience to see a different narrative to the one I had. To the one I continue to place myself in because I don’t know any better. This new narrative is a happy one. It is full of love and light. It is one I would feel lucky to be a part of.
I am sorry for projecting my familial experiences on to the world. I will continue to unpick and unlearn this absolute toxicity. This absolute nonsense. I will do better.