Book: The Good Immigrant – edited by Nikesh Shukla

Book: The Good Immigrant – edited by Nikesh Shukla

I picked this book up out of loyalty to my community at large but I learn so much. It’s a collection of 21 essays by people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds talking about race and their experience of racism.

I learn, just because I don’t (knowingly) experience racism personally, doesn’t mean it doesn’t still very much happen. I grew up in the 1970/80s and was mostly oblivious to the ‘R’ word in our safe suburban neighbourhood until High School. Even though I’m sure there was name calling I don’t recall ever being upset, I imagine I gave as good back. The only advice was if we see skinheads, especially in numbers, turn around and walk the other way. Tricky to know the bad guys of the National Front when some of your class mates are perfectly amiable skinheads but I heeded the recommendation to be on the safe side.

I was bought up to not recognise colour, just see the person and it’s never the first thing I notice about someone. So I can’t imagine what it’s like for the Muslim actor who only gets cast as a (most typically) bad Muslim. How many white Christian actors do we see portraying only obviously Christian people?

There’s a chapter about shade from someone who is what we now call mixed race but she knew herself as half-cast when growing up. She talks of the trend for skin whitening creams popular in South Asian countries. It reminds me of when we we’re young and getting called names for being dark by the people who actually do their best to get a suntan.

It’s hard to believe the world’s politest nation, the Japanese endure any type of prejudice and yet their chapter is included too.

The Good Immigrant opens with the editor’s own short piece about people using Indian words wrongly. You wouldn’t call a dish in your restaurant that translates as ‘pants’, right? The funniest is when people don’t believe you. Like when I say if you sell ‘chai tea latte’ you are offering ‘tea tea latte’ but no matter how many times I ask for a chai, they will say, oh you mean a ‘chai tea latte’?

I had a yoga teacher say ‘Namaste’ when finishing a yoga movement. It’s a greeting meaning ‘hello’ so it’s odd to say it when you’ve been chatting for half an hour, or indeed when you’re on your own.



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