Sunday, April 2, 2006

Thinking of myself as a raced subject

I have an essay that's due on Wednesday, April 5. Basically, the topic is "Discuss your own construction as a 'raced' subject".

I know I have always considered myself as Indian - because I am! But I'm a South African Indian, which means I'm of Indian descent born in South Africa. But when it comes to grouping myself in terms of race, I find myself battling with this and I seem to be questioning my identity as I attempt this assignment.

Living in a multi-racial country like SA, I have been exposed to various cultures and traditions. I attended a predominantely 'white' school, where I made some really good friends. At times, this may have conflicted with my life outside of the classroom and the schoolgrounds. At school, I think I may have been 'white-washed', but when I got home after the school day, I had to change my identity and become an Indian girl again.

I think it was only after high school that i realized the two could be integrated. In other words, around the time of my being 16 or so, it may have dawned on me that it was "ok" to be Indian at a "white" school.

It's also strange at how I became even more proud of my culture only when the west started recognizing the beauty and authentic nature of the east. My white friends were intrigued by the bindi's, sari's and samoosa's. It was almost as if pop culture actually gave the go ahead for us to accept such things.

During my studies in my Journalism and Media Studies course, "Representation, Identity and Ethics" I came to learn about a concept known as "whiteness". Richard Dyer explains that in all western representations, whites were regarded as the norm and standard. Other races were considered inferior to the white race.

Dyer also speaks about how 'whiteness' has become so dominant, that it is deemed 'normal' for other races to merely assimilate to the 'white culture'.

All this talk has really gotten my mind in a jumble and has me questioning myself - who am I really? Have I been assimilated into the dominant culture that I have been integrated into all my life? If so, is it too late to back out, analyze who I am and try to identity who "I" am?!