Tag Archives: Diversity

diversity-in-books

This is why Diversity sucks

Though the concept is great – it still sucks for my kind.

It conjures up images of glitter and happiness with the glitz and glamour of a chocolate advertisement but tough luck if it makes up your very identity.

Though I don’t mean to sound cruel (even if it is) here’s a reality check for you – crickets will be getting more attention.

Diversity – such a great buzzword with the oomph of a derelict forgotten martyr even the history books couldn’t be bothered teaching us about. Everyone’s talking about it.

Diversity this, diversity that but that’s about all that’s happening.

Everyone’s saying it because it’s the cool thing to say, what the in crowd’s talking about but no one’s actually doing anything about it or even understands what the hell it’s all about.

Diversity sucks but only if it’s part of your core and more importantly, only if you revel in it, brandish in it with all the glory you can possibly muster.

I’m a writer – perhaps a self-declared one, but a writer nevertheless. Perhaps a mediocre one, but a writer regardless and I’m what many would term as a lucky struggling writer because it’s a great time for someone like me to be born apparently – a great time for a diverse writer.

But what does a diverse writer even mean?

That’s a great question because though most know what diverse writing means (as opposed to diverse authors) – very few actually bother about my type.

I’m not going to lie, it’s quite annoying existing in an age where there is so much hoo-hah about diverse characters (many of which are fictional dare I say) when no one really gives a crap about their very factual diverse creators.

This is mainly due to two reasons – one, authors are rarely as interesting as the characters they create (I can attest to this personally) and two, most diverse characters being created aren’t really being written about diverse authors in the first place.

Because let’s face it, who would know better about a brown girl coming to a foreign land and dealing with all the trials and tribulations of modern day western world attitudes and stereotypes against the backdrop of very real cultural boundaries than a white writer?

As a “diverse” author who has written a novel (or a poorly cloaked semi autobiography) about just that (hello people, welcome to my life), do I find it torturously disconcerting that many of the countless literary agents I have reached out to say that my story isn’t quite real enough?

Of course I do.

In fact, I find it so agonisingly painful I actually pondered on writing a thank you reply to the one literary agent who responded by saying that though the premise was good, it just wasn’t the right time for my “type” of tale when adult colouring books were all the rage in the literary world. I thought it would be presumptuous to send him the dictionary book definition of literature when I actually like colouring in.

Others said my book just didn’t strike a chord with them because my main character was too well, normal.

Of course a “normal” brown girl is just out of the question because who would want to read about a normal diverse character? Um – maybe diverse readers like me.

It’s unfortunate that during my teenage years I had to choose between a normal white girl to relate with or a crazy, brown one with a horrific juxtaposition of identity crisis’s that outnumbered the amount of times I change my underwear (which is regularly by the way).

Clearly there are no normal brown people on the planet because we all wear hijabs, struggle daily with radicalism and have a secret life our parents would commit suicide upon discovering exactly twenty two point five years later. And let’s not mention finally participating (while not in undercover) in romantic relationships after securing our parent’s reluctant consent upon finding out about our blatant “western influenced” unlocking of our chastity belts in our late teens. Please note, this is actually supposed to be sarcastic.

Being diverse and actually understanding what that truly meant for many of us diverse teenagers growing up in a world where no one really got us is what continues to make diversity so sucks.

“Normal” for us diverse, immigrant children meant tepidly tip-toeing the tightrope of immigrant versus adopted land issues every single day. It meant explaining why your parents had to meet your “friend” before they let you date him before he even asked you out. It meant you’d get tired of hearing your own voice every time you droned on about how “discovering” yourself after high school on that once in a lifetime gap year before you joined university was never going to happen if you wanted to live past eighteen.

You won’t find novels on how you spent the better part of every weekday morning airing your school uniform out of that undeniable, wicked curry smell that lingers like a bad memory days after you devoured it. Or why you can use your forehead to corkscrew even the mightiest Foster’s beer bottle thanks to the countless afternoons you spent rubbing the elusive bindi off after your weekly prayers. All this just so you could rush off to see the latest movie at the cinemas without having to explain the red dot on your forehead for the millionth time. You won’t even find stories on the absurdity of forgetting French kissing when your people came up with the manual on having sex.

Why would we forget the lips in the Kama Sutra people – really, why?

Why don’t you find common day stories on the very real, normal lives of brown people?
Because there’s no way that a white author has been cursed with our version of normality. Normal, non-brown people think this is comedic which is probably why Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project has done so well.

Poor Mindy had to fabricate a normal Indian girl’s life as a comedy when most of us brown chicks know that there’s nothing funny about Mindy’s life – it’s just our version of normal.

Maybe that’s what it is.

Perhaps my premise in Un-Belonging is too real for the mainstream. Maybe all I need to get a literary agent’s attention is to tag a “normal typical brown girl problem” joke at the end of each sentence so that the general public can make a parody of my protagonist instead.

Maybe that’ll get over her not wearing a hijab bit.

Photo Credit: Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

The Casual Racist

Know a Casual Racist?

You know who and what I’m talking about.

I think we’ve all probably had the misfortune of coming across one or two (if you’re lucky).
That person who isn’t racist but thinks that adding a smile at the end of a thinly veiled racially motivated comment makes it alright to just chuck one at you anyway.

I have spent the past five weeks traveling across India through Shimla, Delhi and Mumbai, completing my superb trip at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. In one word – amazing (sing that while you read it for added emphasis).

I must admit to spending some of my time dispelling stereotypes about the land down-under vehemently because you know, ignorance is never an excuse for sweeping generalisations that can come across as rude because they are, people, they are. Simple as that. No, no matter what ever angle or perspective you look at it.

What I didn’t expect was Pauline Hanson’s vigorously and scarily increasing popularity. As a side bar, what exactly is happening to the world and it’s dangerously increasing xenophobia? It takes two to tango in life for everything and the Trumps, Hanson’s and every other right wing party leader in Europe is where they are because of all of us (those of us who vote for them and those of us who can’t be bothered getting off our arses to put a stop to potential future genocide for the gazillion-th time).

I also managed to meet every racist Aussie I strongly believe exists in my vicinity in the week I got back. I know this is highly unlikely but like everything negative, the numbers seem to exponentially build inconceivably, like something out of a J.K. Rowling novel.
Comments like, “ugh Dehli, way too many people in your country” (adding a smile at the end of that sentence still pisses me off by the way), “must have been sweaty and hot in your country” (that’s rich coming from someone who is currently battling 42 degree Celsius weather), “did you take any photos of elephants and tigers while you were there?” (the next time you take a photo of a kangaroo jumping over the Harbour Bridge in Sydney city, please-let-me-know).

I could go on but why?

Why should I waste my time trying to educate casual racists on not so common etiquette and courtesy? If they haven’t learnt yet, they never will.

Just note please …

Sticking a flag in countries that were never yours and never will be was never and will never be right.

Full stop.

Just like adding a smile to the end of a sentence you may think is manipulatively cloaked but glaringly obvious to the people you have been attempting to “civilise” for centuries is not and will never be acceptable.

This may be offensive to some and I get it.

Because this entire piece has been written with a clear and complete absence of a smile.

For the rest of you who have managed to find this writing somewhat palatable, I’ll be posting pics of my amazing journey soon hopefully. I trust your open-mindedness will allow you to see through the stereotypes and generalisations towards the glorious similarities we all share against the backdrop of exciting cultural nuances.

See you soon xoxo

My vocabulary has been distilled down to four letters: D-I-E-T.

And no, it doesn’t stand for diet, though I am a little creeped out right about now seeing as I just realised Edit and Diet are made up of the same letters!

I hope it’s not a sign from the universe but considering I have been doing little more than sitting on my ‘you know what’ and editing the crap out of my novel, I’m going to bet the contents of my pocket it is.

Which, in case you’re wondering (because why wouldn’t you?) includes a worn out (literal meaning – pristine copy) of my exercise program, a half chewed/licked Violet Crumble and a recycled chewing gum.

I have no idea why no one ever wants to gamble with me.

First draft, done and dusted!!!

SO…I finally made it.

There were a few moments that were touch and go but in the end I got there, which is the only thing that matters, right?

My first and a half draft (because I’ve been semi editing along the way. I’ve already been bitten once with The Last True Blood where editing is concerned and no, it had nothing to do with writing about vampires) of Un-Belonging has been completed, just under 80,000 words which I am happy about because all my previous novels have been so much more longer. If nothing else, I now know I can write something short and sweet. Don’t snicker 😛

Now the editing phase has begun, du du duhhhhhhh (that is meant to sound horrific and horrendously, spine chillingly terrifying). If I could have only sang it to you in my “melodious” voice, I wouldn’t have to explain the emotive reaction you should be having right now.

Once this first bout of editing is done, I’ll get some beta readers on the task.

Hope you’re all well. I think I’m going to go have a strawberry milkshake as a celebratory drink on my lonesome. Oh the perils of writing, it’s so isolated, at least that’s what I tell myself when my friends mysteriously remember their last load of washing that needs to go on the line every time I venture going out with them. I like to think it’s my cranium’s splendid ability to think that sets me apart from the rest. Eh, what can I say, I’m a positive, everything is peachy type of gal.

Now, I can really hear you snickering.

Dear Santa,

I thought I’d get in early with my requests seeing as I know how busy you are at this time of year.

I did try sending you a letter back in January but one of your Elves sent me a slightly “short” response outlining that I quit bugging you till December basically. Don’t worry, I have contacted the “Santa Listens” Customer Service hotline on 1300 LEAVE ME ALONE to complain but suspiciously ended up feeling like that number was solely made for me. I know – ridiculous right? That’s what I thought. Anyhow, enough of that because we both know how much I love to ramble so here goes. My extremely timid (may I just point out because I have been told on occasion that my demands are never ending and slightly ridiculously unachievable) list of wants!

1. World Peace. I get it; everyone wants it so why are you dragging your heels about it already? It’s so clichéd; it is now a joke in movies that is frankly, beginning to get a little tiresome. I’m not sure what all the fuss is about with living in harmony with one another seeing as we only have centuries of historical testament to the turmoil and wake of devastation hate leaves in its path as it hurricanes through everyone’s life. Oh hang on, the penny just dropped. We’re the ones who have to make a conscious decision to stop it from ruining our lives? Hmm yeah, well I see your point, okay scratch that, it’s a human gift, not a Santa one. Well then, what about my next one?

2. Celebrating our differences. C’mon, seriously?! How can this not already have been presented to someone, I mean even if the receiver didn’t like it – hello, rewrap it and pass it onto the next person on the gift list. The world is made up of so many wonderfully, awe inspiring cultures and nationalities; it’s basically a Petri dish for learning viruses, you know – the good kind. What? Wait, this is another human gift? Oh right, fine, people need to make a conscious decision to let people with other perspectives in and be respectful of ideas that don’t fit ours. Alright, I’ll give you that one too. This is getting embarrassing. Moving on …

3. The Environment is going to Shite. I don’t know if you’ve noticed Santa but your home is apparently melting. In fact, whether you believe in the whole ruckus climate change enthusiasts have thrown up or not, I think it’s safe to say that our beautiful planet isn’t what it used to be. Really, what is Mother Nature doing? She really does need to take a little more care of herself, let’s be honest, age is just a number and now the situation is getting dire. I’ve heard Polar Bears are the next item on the chopping block – I mean, what? Cute white fluffy bears? What is happening with the world because that is just wrong! Okay Santa, you really need to stop skirting on your responsibilities and snoozing on the job (as you can see from the above photo, I have proof). How can this be a people present? Right, I did get the memo outlining that we just all need to be a little less greedy on the planet’s resources, you know with the three cars for a family of two and the fifty potato chip packet reserves we have stocked in the pantry just in case I get hungry exactly 467.987 days from now. Fine – I’ll give this one to you too -_-

Just for the record though, I am not happy about this. There isn’t a single present on this list I can’t give myself which just sux. Now, a nice red Porsche – surely that is a Santa gift. I even chose red as an homage to you know who 😉

So I’m guessing it’s going to be a waste of time sending you out that long list I have been meticulously updating throughout the year outlining my nice versus naughty deeds?

Hmm, I’ll send it to you anyway, just in case. Can you please send me your updated address, for some reason the letters I keep sending your way get returned back to me unopened with the message “Santa does not live here anymore”. What’s that all about anyway?

Image taken from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/puzzler4879/6515661611/in/photolist-5Gx5P8-5VZWJw-v6gLm-ibUMDu-679Ynh-cBS5pQ-aVLtci-n8EExQ-yHtfH-6weW1P-4FfLUu-5xHsDX-5SQChF-66gPcn-aA9gsy-6hFXiG-bK4jh-7faf7U-95Gras-7PLfR-6AGr4F-94hMnJ-6FerxM-6EtKNV-7rjPAU-itJaGC-7f2E3C-5vLtnj-6JowTP-6dsN7p-7fbfyN-7fbfes-941f1K-bWSD9o-aPjS-uHwcF-3B3tEq-5LY9Bu-idFAdt-pu4144-85QN2a-5vTUrD-jtJxh-5KsUCj-3exZq7-dNXmFA-5UsLEf-q2qcB-dAEC7G-aZkBGa/

We’re Different & Proud of it!

Apparently loads of immigrants the world over have been having a hard time explaining their differences or what we like to commonly refer to as our “uniqueness” and what originals term as our “whacky inability to fit in syndrome”.

I know, ours is so much catchier 😛

Either that, or the constant clicking on my video link is a subtle warning for impending death threats coming my way.

Phew, thank the good Lord for virtual reality sometimes, death threats are so much less permanent nowadays.

What’s your pizza?

I absolutely LOVE pizza!

Now that I have that off my chest, I think it’s only fair, as I am strongly opposed to false advertising, that I let all of you know that this post is not about the type of product you can purchase at Dominos or Pizza Hut … sorry. You may, however, still want to use their services at the end of this little excerpt, that is of course, if you’re still interested in reading the rest of it, when no free pizza is on the menu.

No, this pizza is about the one we’re all made up of, the one some of us are a little more conscious about, the one we kind of carry around with us, some of us more evidently than others. I became aware of mine fairly early on, I’d say around about eight, when I first came to Australia and one that I am questioned about on a constant, continuous basis. The dialogue often travels the following journey:

Potential friend: “Hmm, so where do you come from?”
Me: With a slightly dumbfounded expression, “Um, what do you mean?”
Potential, nosy friend: “I mean, where were you born?”
Me: “Oh right, the UK”
Possibly a friend (odds are stacked high): “So, you’re British?”
Me: “Well, not really. I mean I was just born there”.
Tiring unlikely friend: “Okay, so you grew up somewhere else?”
Me: “Yeah, the Middle East”
Still unlikely friend (that ship seems to have sailed): “Okay, so you’re Arabic?”
Me: “Well, kind of, but I left the ME and moved to Australia when I was quite young”
Potential murdering acquaintance driven to their wits end: “So, you’re Australian then?”
Me: Shoulder shrug
Declared Idiot: “But you don’t look Australian?”
Me: “Well, why didn’t you just say that in the first place and ask me why I look the way I do, because clearly what you wanted to know is why I’m brown”

Though not all my discourses on my heritage follow this old worn out path, the intent is often there, sometimes clearly, sometimes bizarrely (I didn’t think it was possible to have so many ways to ask someone where they’re “from”), and sometimes downright rudely (the “so what boat did you come on?” enquiries).

My friends (yes I do have some) call me an International citizen which I honestly sort of like, but then, I think we all fall into this category. The fact is I am proud and gratefully thankful of all the little bits and pieces that make me up. My “international citizen” status has helped make me more (at least I hope so) open-minded, more respectful of cultural diversities and nuances, more willing to at least attempt to understand different perspectives, and most importantly, more sympathetic to being different and empathetic to all the trials and tribulations being “different” brings with it.

Some of my immigrant friends tend to look at being distinct from the norm, or part of the minority as somewhat of a handicap, but I have never seen it as such, in fact, what they often shied away from, I normally embraced. I didn’t see being different as a curse, I saw it (and continue to do so till today) as a glorifying unique novelty.

So where does pizza come into it?

Well, I like to view my heritage as a pizza, where the base is a thick, mouth-watering distinctly Indian crust, with a strong Aussie tomato sauce flavour, a British topping of olives and vegetables (I’m vegetarian , so no meat!) and a sprinkling of Middle Eastern, melted cheese. Take any ingredient away, and my pizza lacks that special oomph.

I like the fact that there are so many pizza varieties I can interact with on a daily basis, and I can honestly state that no one pizza is better than the other. Every single one of them brings with it a novel flamboyant flavour and a kaleidoscope of interesting perspectives, but the fact remains that at an organic level, the main ingredients are all the same basically. A pizza is just that – a pizza, and with the main constants being at the crux of any good pizza, I never stop being pleasantly amazed at how all pizzas’ similarities far outweigh their individual diversities.

So, what’s your pizza?