I am reminded daily that the Internet and online media can be awful places. Today, the reminder came in the form of reactions to the election of form Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, as the British Prime Minister. Whether these are bots doing the bidding of some hidden powers, or just plain old-fashioned racism, it is depressing to read comments about Sunak’s race and ethnicity.
To call him Indian would be a stretch. Is he of Indian origin? Of course. But make no bones – Sunak is British. He was born in Southampton and educated at Winchester College, & Oxford. Sunak is the grandson of Indian migrants who moved to the U.K. from Kenya. That leads me to the bigger question: if birth doesn’t make you “British,” then what does?
To be clear, I am not naive enough to think that these reactions are limited to the U.K. or Sunak. It is the world we live in — where your skin color or ethnicity is used to pigeonhole you. As an immigrant, when do lly stop being an outsider? How many generations have to pass for you to be from somewhere else, and your skin color defines your place in society as first among equals?
Politics, like religious beliefs, is a private matter in my books & that is why I don’t talk about it. But sometimes, you are just compelled to think out loud. To be clear, I don’t have particular affection for Sunak or any love for the British.
The questioning of Sunak’s origins just brought up some strong feelings. I have spent more time in America than in India, where I was born. I carry an American passport, yet the first question people ask me is where are you from? For me, the answer is simple. But for others, it doesn’t seem to be the case!
Happy Diwali, everyone.
October 24, 2022. San Francisco