Tasha

Having a read through a post on this blog and having a little chat about it on Facebook, I got offered a chance to offer my opinion. And since I love talking, not race relations, but people relations I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Please know that the little irks below are meant to help and enhance not bring down or hurt. So dearest non-melanin-having folk, here are a few little tips to help you enjoy a beautiful relationship with your fellow browner South Africans.

Being a 27 year old South African I started life at the end of apartheid and therefore missed a large amount of the trauma, having said that, remnants of a previous life always have a way of finding a little path into the present.

Growing up I was addicted to movies, old, new, fantasy- well pretty much every genre. Memorising favourite lines in its particular accent! It was and is something I still do, think Forest Gump and the shrimp scene.

Accents and varying dialects are a truly beautiful way of finding and understanding the truth of a culture and people within the spoken word. Which brings me to my first little irk, dear white people; please don’t imitate an ‘Indian’ accent.

I, like many others of my age who have been through a similar type of life experience, have a fairly anglicized accent, something I’d like to deem a South African accent (see how I made it my own)- all because of the people I’ve connected with, the institutions I’ve studied at and the home life I’ve had. Having said that, when I hear a supposed ‘Indian’ accent being used along with words such as ‘organise’ and ‘my connections’, I feel quite aggravated. Please note, whilst some of your tanner friends may laugh when you do that, they by no means enjoy it. It is truly patronising and to be honest, quite hurtful.  Those phrases are stereotypes I fight every day in the work place, so that people will see me for my worth and not as ‘the little Indian girl who has connections’. Whilst the accent may be an interpretation of what you hear, that dialect is the one that is heard throughout my family, my aunts, uncles and my grandmother. My grandmother, a barely educated woman who worked 50 hours a week in a clothing factory trying to scrap together enough money to send my mother to a university, efforts which eventually led to the liberated life I lead. When you use that accent you mock the sacrifices that were made by her and so many others.

So next up on my list is my golden brown-ness. Just because I am a woman of the brown persuasion doesn’t mean that I eat spicy food, or will cook said spicy food for you. Dear readers, there have been countless times in which a friend or colleague has asked me to cook them a pot of briyani or curry. My answer each time went something along the lines of this, “If you feel like eating a curry, you should definitely try one from the take-away down the road.” To connect or find a common denominator with each other does not mean you should bond with me based on the food you think I consume, you can chat about movies, books or even the weather. Also guys, I don’t ask you to make me a Sunday roast, so let’s just be friends by common interests even if that interest includes the love of food. If you’re confused, allow me to clarify, by those colleagues asking me to cook a random Asian dish, you have negated the value I have added to our little ecosystem and reduced my person to a purveyor of foods as opposed to one of thoughts and ideas.

And finally, please let us no longer make an assumption about my faith based on the way I look. Whilst I may be cocoa, I like many others, practise a faith that is particular to me and what my soul finds its peace with. So during Diwali, please don’t ask me for sweetmeats or assume I’m about to ill-treat my pets with use of fireworks. I am of the Christian faith and do not condone the use of fireworks. Please remember, we are all different, like snowflakes- but in my case the brown kind.

You’ll notice I keep referring to myself as South African and not as an Indian, it’s intentional. I truly believe that the moment we begin to see ourselves as the same, our physical differences will disappear and all that’ll be left is a fellow human trying to make their way through the world with the help of a few good souls. This land is our home. You and I come from its soil. Its heart, tears, triumphs and history has been tattooed on our skin.

So, dear potential Caucasian friends, hey there! Remember these few tips and we can be buddies- well that’s if you’re kind and a genuinely good human that laughs at bad jokes. If so, let’s do this, lets snort together. And remember, we’re individuals too. Don’t strip me of my nuisances and idiosyncrasies just because I have golden skin. I like Weird Al and Taylor Swift too. Let’s celebrate our differences, recognize the individual within and we can totes be homies!

For more from Tasha, take a look at her blog: http://youllmissthehumourousconclusion.blogspot.com

[To return to the start of this series and hear some amazing thoughts and stories from other people, click here]

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