Let me start this listicle with a little anecdote: last summer, whilst holidaying in Spain, I had an encounter with an Indian shop owner which literally went like this:
Shop Owner: *says something in Hindi while smiling*
Me: *confused smile*
Shop Owner: You speak Hindi?
Me: No, only English
Shop Owner: You Indian man?
Me: No, I’m not Indian
Shop Owner: You sure?
Yes. I am pretty sure of my own ethnicity.
In the words of Vine and YouTube genius Liza Koshy, being mixed-race can make you racially ambiguous, ethnically mysterious, or curiously racialised. I myself am a young mixed-race man; 50% white 50% Kashmiri. For some, this equates to 100% racial confusion and an endless stream of questions, which typically take the form of a collection of the following:
1. Where are you from?
A classic. When people ask this question I innocently answer ‘England’ or ‘Luton’, depending on the context. However, sometimes they’re not asking “where did you grow up?” Sometimes what they’re really asking is “why are you brown?”, which leads to the following question…
2. Yeah, but where are you really from?
Still England. Born, raised, and from the look of things, going to die here too.
3. Oh, so do you speak *insert foreign language here*?
Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi, Arabic, Urdu, you name it- the list of language people assume I speak is endless. I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed that I only have a B grade in GCSE French to go on.
4. What’s Your Real Name?
I have tan-coloured skin with dark hair and brown eyes, a Gaelic first name, and a French surname. Apparently, these things do not match up and therefore my name must be a lie. Oh no. They’ve figured me out.
5. I’m attracted to you because you’re not full white
Yes, somebody said that to me. Yes, it was two years ago. Yes, I can hold grudges for a long time.
6. Yeah, but you’re basically *insert race here*
No. I am not basically Indian or Pakistani. I am mixed race. I identify as mixed race. Even if I was 100% Kashmiri, I would still not be ‘basically Indian.’ They are different things.