Tag Archive: indian


The country where I was born.

The ethnic composition of my parents.

My gender.

What do these things have in common? None of them are sufficient to describe who I am.

As human beings, made in God’s image and likeness, we consist of body, soul and spirit. Being a Trinidadian born female whose parents have Indian, Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish and Caucasian ancestors are all factors which impact my body, but not my soul and spirit, which is what really defines my identity.

As a child growing up in an ethnically and culturally diverse country (Trinidad and Tobago) I never noticed the race of my friends, or even my own. I remember the first time I realised that I was different from the majority of my friends. I was fifteen years old, and our country had elected its first Prime Minister of East Indian decent. Talk of it being “our turn now” made me realise that people had voted based on race, rather than issues of governance. It also opened my eyes to the fact that I had East Indian heritage, whereas the majority of my friends were of African descent.

It was amazing to me, because I never chose my friends based on their ethnic background. My closest friends were those whom I connected with, because we shared the same core beliefs and values. There was an attraction at the level of the soul and spirit, which had nothing to do with our physical appearance. These are people who, like me, are citizens of the kingdom of God. We live according to kingdom principles, and this is what creates the bonds between us.

It is sad to me when society has so corrupted our understanding of identity that all we see is what is on the outside. It is one thing when I visit a remote tribe in Kenya that has never met a foreigner, to be surrounded by children who rub my skin to see if it will come off. It is a totally different thing for my 5-year old god-daughter to ask me, “Aunty Debbie, how can you be a Indian AND a Christian?”

The media has put far too much emphasis on the body. Our bodies are merely shells for who we really are on the inside. We have a responsibility to teach our children to look beyond what they can see, so that they can recognise people for who they really are.

[For more ideas, thoughts and stories on different aspects of Race, click here]


At first I was reluctant to write about this, because it can open up a whole can of worms or feels like kicking a sleeping dog…

But if it’s going to help build relationships across the grey areas of race – then so be it.

Firstly, I speak to white people who generalise and stereotype people of colour. I myself, had to challenge myself to see beyond colour and actually get to know people for who they are. This is a daily challenge, because there will be days when people fit the stereotype and days when they don’t. So before you try and joke with me, speaking in a typical Indian accent – it actually tells me that you see me as stereotype not as a person first. It would be really nice if you tried to see me as a person first.

This also tells me that you are somewhat limited when it comes to having friends of colour and that maybe you have such friends, to keep up with an appearance of seeming socially diverse but really you have yet to build a meaningful relationship with them as people. I think we can all tell when people genuinely see us as people – and often I ask myself the same question when someone disagrees with me, if it is about race or a simply two individuals who share different points of views? I like to think that two people can have different opinions and not have it be about race, because race is that thing that makes us all the more beautiful and unusual to each other.

Don’t assume that all Indians would rip a person off in financial dealings, or that we eat curry every day of the week…I love my Indian culture but I also love being South African. Again I know more white friends who probably embrace my culture more than I do and that’s okay, because I love other cultures too. Sometimes the stereotypes in other people’s culture are beautiful, but I would be sensitive to not mock someone, it just comes across as looking down on them. I know that if I had to do the same to my white friends, it would be awkward…and rightfully so. So why do we do it?

Being brought up in a typical Indian home but also in a time in South Africa when the only way you can heal past injustices is knowing that you have to build a better future. This comes with setting our hearts and minds free from the stigmas that our parents fearfully grew up in. It’s knowing that our identities are not rooted in our racial stereotyping and our kids are never born to see colour and so we much teach them to see people from all walks of life, regardless of race of class as valuable beings, especially if God calls us to love each other as we love ourselves, then we really must challenge ourselves to seek to know the heart of others.

[To read the story of my friend Tsholofelo Mpuri click here]

so my good friend megan – who i used to watch bad movies with (not bad as in naughty, but we used to on occasion find something that would more than likely be awful and watch it and usually have one or two classic lines that would be private joke humour and that i would occasionally sneak into a sermon in church so megan would just break into raucous laughter and everyone would think she was a crazy lady – ah good times) samessed me the other day to say let’s go watch the latest Leon Shuster movie ‘Shucks Shabalala’s Guide to um something something safety South Africa something’

now just to set the context i used to really love LS movies back in the day but ever since he started combining genuinely pranking people with a scripted movie it has never worked for me and movies like Mr Bones and so on have been incredibly painful (when he was just doing candid camera type movies they rocked but the combo always has you wondering how much is scripted) so i was not super amped but i hadn’t seen the trailer so i didn’t know quite how bad it should be expected to be being so i said yes (cos hanging with megs is always good for a laugh or laughs of the plural variety)

and so we saw it and the candid camera stuff was absolutely flippin brilliant and you should really go and see it. and the scripted stuff was absolutely painfully awfully bad and was like someone rubbing a cheese grater against a black board (if that is worse than just nails – it seems like it should be worse). It was just horrible… but fortunately the candid camera stuff (which included taking on Helen Zille, Alan Boesak and Rob van Vuuren) was top top class. getting people in to apply make-up to a dead person who turned out not to be quite so dead… just go see the movie and go pee during the two songs.

but the one part of the movie that was really horrible to watch was the intense racism. the candid camera stuff where people get scared (giant snakes, ‘dead’ bodies, out of control wheelchair-bikes, traffic cops) was fantastic. but then Shuster got dressed up in his trademark black or Indian person disguises and some of it brought out some intense racism in people. then at the end he reveals it’s him and the person laughs and they hug and it’s all good and fun and whatever… but i’m sitting there thinking ‘dood’ (in my best dj Fresh impression) – you just showed to the whole of south africa and maybe the world (cos somehow in SA this movie is going to do better than Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes combined – ai!) what a complete and utter racist you are and a smile and hug at the end (with a guy who is not actually black) doesn’t change the fact of who you showed yourself to be

yeah it was really sad actually and i am embarrassed that people like that still exist in that way and wonder if someone could actually give them the opportunity to leave…

“it’s my way! there is no highway option” – Vin Diesl in The Pacifier

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