I’ve been called a “coconut” on many occasions and told I’m “not really Indian.” The term “coconut” refers to someone that is brown on the outside but white on the inside.
I wrestled with my racial identity a lot when I was younger. I’m a British born Indian. I moved away from home aged 14 to play tennis full time, first in Surrey, then Czech Republic. I came back to the UK when I was 19 which is when I joined the Army and have lived all over since.
Being viewed as an outsider isn’t nice and I started to think maybe I was a “coconut” Why might I be viewed as a “coconut”
- Not speaking enough of my native language. My punjabi is broken at best
- Pursuing a career that is not expected. I’m in the Army, I didn’t tell anyone when I first joined because I didn’t want anyone to stop me.
- Not following the faith you were born into. I recognise as being Sikh but have never strictly followed the religion
- The only Indian clothes I own are the ones my mum has bought me but she has great taste!
- Doing activities that are not classed as “normal.” I spend my free time doing endurance events, the photo is me digging a snow hole in the Cairngorms and I’m training to go to Antarctica
I’ve grown more confident about my identity as I’ve gotten older. I don’t have to try to be Asian, I am Asian even if people think I “act white.” There isn’t a box that I have to try and fit into. Instead, let’s encourage people to be unique and not have to follow what is expected of them.