Tag Archives: Multiculturalism

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

Dear Germany … You Rock!

Thank you, Germany.

For reminding the world that your present, (or your future), does not rest on the atrocities of your past.

I wish so many things after witnessing the genuine outpouring of human sympathy in your country, like how the rest of those in the World with more would follow your outstanding example with the refugee crisis.

I wish we would understand that if there were truly meant to be borders, we shouldn’t have one, created implements like ships and planes that would allow us to explore this truly beautiful planet we (for the most part, badly) rent or two, comprehend that Mother Nature would have built up boundaries before we ever got here.

I also wish someone had told me that Love Thy Neighbour meant “I’m going to help bomb your place to smithereens, eradicate your culture and then say you can’t come to my place”.

I am truly shameful for our actions and turning a blind eye to your good while never forgetting your harrowing past.

I, for one, am voting to change the word humanity because as far as I can see, humans have to be one of the most inhumane species on the planet.

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.

Where – are – YOU – from?

My dad passed this along to me over the weekend and now I have permanently bookmarked the page on my phone for every single time I’m asked the loaded question!

It’s only been used a couple of hundred times so far 😀

Check out the Help Me Find Parents YouTube channel for this wonderful video by Ken Tanaka & David Neptune 😀 😀 😀

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/

Dear Racist … I Love You, Man

Nope, you read the title right. I love racists.

Now, before you start slamming tomatoes at your computer screen, just hear me out. I really do love racists, they’ve played a massive part in my life and I’ve learnt a lot from the bigoted comments sometimes casually, sometimes not so carelessly, thrown my way.

I owe many life lessons to the racist encounters I’ve lived through, and no doubt will after this post is posted. I was a late bloomer when it comes to experiencing racism, I was eight years old (at least I wasn’t in the double digits, because that would have just been embarrassing!) and I could hardly blame the twelve year old bully who let her tirade loose on me.

I mean I was obviously unaware back in the day that school benches were reserved as “White Only” at lunch time and my massive confusion only seemed to incense her more. To top it all, my British accent (gained as a result of being schooled at the British Continental School in Jeddah), my Middle Eastern upbringing till that time, my Indian heritage, and my new found status as a fresh Australian citizen would have served to do anyone’s head in, least of all a prepubescent blonde, blue eyed poster child Aussie schoolgirl.

I went home, told my mum about my unusual encounter enthused with wondrous enthusiasm at only just realising skin colour differed, and oh my gosh, actually mattered on the planet, who promptly reprimanded me for relenting and told me if I did it again, I wouldn’t be let in the front door, or the side one for that matter.

Now this set me straight because clearly no racist bashing (emotionally or physically), could ever compare to an Indian mother’s scolding which unfairly always boils down to a hunger strike and if any of you have been reading up about me, you know that there could be no possible worst punishment than starvation for my poor undernourished body (I wish!)

So lo and behold, lunch time came around again the next day and as humans are such boring creatures of habit, my new found bane of my existence told me to vacate the seat (which was another bench by the way, as I had attempted for the past week to find one that suited my skin tone). I told her “No”, she said “What?”, so I repeated again, only slower, making a mental check to clarify that the national language of Australia was in fact English.

Turns out it was, because she simply shrugged her shoulders and never bothered me again.
I burrowed my brows in uncertainty thinking if all life’s battles were that easy, I was going to be cruising my roller coaster ride, and then proceeded to devour my half-finished sandwich.

Racism can also be very funny, like the time a Southern Italian yelled at me to go back to where I came from. In Australia? I asked him to repeat his sentence because I was absolutely certain I had heard him wrong which only frustrated him more to yell it out.

I was happy because I’d saved on my healthcare to go check my hearing and left him quietly at his disposal. Not because I was afraid or had nothing to say, because as I am sure you all know by now, I definitely have a motor mouth, but because I thought it was cruel to harm anyone with such a humungous case of an Identity crisis.

This finally brings me to why I love racists as much as I do – because I owe a part of my appreciation and love for everything that makes me to them. People often naively believe that racism will push the victim into being ashamed of their heritage, but often (not always unfortunately) the exact opposite happens!

Racist encounters make me feel more proud of who I am and just more pitiful about the close-mindedness of those who inflict hateful comments and activities on people who are happy, that’s right – happy and content in their lives.

No matter how much I exercise my cranium, I sincerely believe that anyone who has the time and energy to hate can’t possibly be happy, because they’re expending so much wasted effort on just that, hate.

So, to all the Racists out there, I’d like to give you some happiness and thank you from the bottom of my heart for making me stronger, happier, healthier and proud. I love you, man 🙂