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Another census, brown-ness and...
Asian heritage month...
I am covering many birds with one stone today. The census, being Asian or Indian, and brown-ness (is it even a thing?)
Just yesterday, I completed another Canadian census. Over the years the census has reduced their list of demographical questions. In fact, here is an opportunity to go broader that would help analyze the demographics of its citizen for a variety of things in a data-centric world, but in Canada, it seems we go the other way. Save a few bucks in the process.
The census focused on just a few things - names and date of birth of the residents at home, their birth sex, then questions around what gender each of us identifies as, the language we primarily speak today, and the language we grew up with. A question on whether someone served in the Canadian Armed forces. And the final question was around relationships between the various members of the household. That is it. There were no questions especially on the country of origin or race.
I also came to know that this month was Asian Heritage month, whatever it might mean. We have a month or day now for all sorts of things - the other day several of us cousins were wishing each other for “Cousin’s day”… there seems to be no dearth of these. What exactly is Asian? And how relevant is it to me? I read an interesting newspaper article that is referenced below.
Now Asian is such a broad term. In a local cultural context, being Japanese is completely distinct from being Chinese or a Korean or a Vietnamese or a Philiphinno. Or Indonesian or Malaysian. Food, language, religion - there is a myriad of differences in these and other cultural practices from one Asian country to another.
Just take India for instance, where I originate from. I am a cultural outlier in even being Indian. I don't speak the local language - Hindi, having grown up in the South of India. State to state, India is divided by language, class systems, food preferences, and choices, and many other parameters and practices.
Now that I have spent half my life outside of India, I have been influenced by local cultures in the four countries I have lived in and a multitude of countries I have visited and worked in. Come to think of it, I don’t mostly eat, speak, think or live like most people in India anymore.
I am part of a WhatsApp group where 30+ people from my University batch are in touch together. Most of them are in India, but there are others spread all over the world. Most times, I don’t or can’t relate to the jokes, the politics, the perspectives on different subjects, patriarchy, and other male-dominated practices that go on in the group. And I am almost an interesting observer in many of the conversations. And, when I do pitch in and participate I am the “queer” (and not in gender identity kind of way) outlier who gets a lot of eye-rolls from others for my comments.
So, at best I am of Indian origin, the roots from a long-time birth and growth until a few decades ago. I am no longer a representative of Indians or Asians or even for that matter Canadian (my adopted country) in my viewpoints, my thoughts, and what I stand for. I no longer a representative of class systems, the languages I may speak, or religions that I might derive values from.
I am no longer culturally aligned to most norms even with other members of my own family here in Canada. Each one of us here has developed our own unique and individual identities. In fact, the only thing I can identify as is “just” being me, the individual. That’s the only thing I stand for - a unique global citizen.
Why 'Asian' isn't a one-size-fits-all term for many Canadians - https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/south-asian-asia-terminology-1.6016664