So I'm a British born Muslim of Indian descent who's proud of his British background, and I'm sick of constantly having my validity as British citizen
called into question simply because of the religion I follow and the colour of my skin.
Once again and no doubt not for the last time I had an exchange this evening with someone I met in the pub which went a little bit something like
this. This one was rather tame and, at least more ignorantly quizzical than outright abusive but believe me when I say I typically get it much, MUCH
worse than this.
"Where are you from?"
-"Croydon, but I moved from there when I was about 12."
"No, where are you really
-"Well, I lived in Croydon all my life, it's where I was born."
"Oh. Where were your parents from?"
-"My Mother was born in Birmingham, my Father also Croydon."
"Okay. But what about like, originally? Where did you really come from first? Like genetically"
-"How far back do you want to go? I'm probably more British than you, if that's what you're getting at."
To which they take offense.
"There's no way you can be more British than me! My Great Grandad fought in both World Wars after all. Just because your grandad sneaked over in a
crate as a "Get out of poverty free" card doesn't make you British."
The last part made me chuckle. But this is a common, yet ignorant deflection I'm faced with which is blind to the fact that India, from whence I can
genetically draw my heritage to, had been in some part or wholly a territory of Britain through trust of the East India Trading Company since 1606
where the first trading posts were set up in Bengal. And from 1857 onwards when the British Raj was officially formed Indians could be considered full
citizens under the right circumstances which included many members of my family. Today it remains a commonwealth member and diplomatic relations are
I can trace my family tree and their lives, at least on one side, back for almost 300 years - they were quite affluent and always, always with no
exceptions, loyal subjects and strong supporters of the crown. What makes up me today, served in more or less every single major military conflict the
British were involved in, one or both of my Great-Great-(Etc)-Grandparents were involved in it either directly or in a direct economically supportive
manner, even one of women I am related to was a nurse in the Crimean war, working alongside Florence Nightingale.
In the 1940's, after world war 2 where both of my Great-Grandfathers had fought in Burma from the first day to the last, they moved over Britain to
start a new life rather than follow the separation, already holding full British citizenship their entire lives which is how I "came to be". Although
they weren't the first in my family to call the Isles home at all.
I have 300 years of proud cultural identity and claim to the country I live in. And for some nobody to point fingers at me and say that because I'm
not white and protestant in what was once a colonial empire which today openly embraces all religions and races somehow diminishes my claim to that
heritage is insulting to me on the most basic of levels.
I'm not saying my claim to British-ness is stronger than anyone elses, just that it certainly isn't weaker. When most people draw back their family
tree they find it crosses between Dutch, French, Prussian, Irish, Scottish, Swedish here and there. And that is by no means a bad thing. But it is
when these same people, some only 3rd generation citizens themselves use it as a basis to attack me, and most of their fellow Daily Mail readers will
nod along in complacent agreement because of the racist overtones imbued into their tiny, incapable minds through years of hate speech and
I also get this quite a lot, especially from Americans oddly. And yes, I realise that atrocities were committed against Indians, but that has never
affected me personally. The American's treatment of the American Indians never dissuaded American Indian patriots in the 20th century. People in
Germany don't hate the land they live in because of what the politicians at the time wrought upon their ancestry a century ago. It's passe, what
matters to me is that I love, love, love the country I live in, and doing so is somewhat of a family tradition.
I'm proud to be British. And before people start playing 20 questions on whose side I'm "really on" and if I'm actually "one of them". I wish they'd
simply take a history lesson.
edit on 30-1-2013 by sajuek because: (no reason given)