Many times in my life I was given comments such as “You are so white-washed because of your workplace” and other times “You are into black men aren’t you? They must love you”. Then they have also said “You are so Tamil and only a Tamil man will value you”. The truth is I have healthy discussions about life with white people, cook my Tamil food because I love spice and shake my booty to reggae music. The BluntTRUTH is I am a damn Torontonian. I am not white, black or Tamil washed. I am Toronto washed!
One of my best friends is white. Suzy and I have so much in common and we can talk every day and never get bored of each other. We work together, but we have a great social life and love wine. We have uplifted and motivated each other for years now. We also belong to a group of Social Workers that come from different ethnicities, but the majority are white. We have shared laughter and tears, been there for each others’ weddings and even got drunk together during break-ups. What connected me to these girls is not their ethnicity, but the love they have to serve my country and the people. My boss Sylvia has been my mentor for years and I love reporting to her every day. My work mother Lori checks up on me and takes good care of me at work. These women are white, but I have never ever felt like an outsider.
We have open discussions about ethnicities and cultural differences. My coworkers are all major supporters of my ventures. They are the first ones to like my posts and comment on it. Please tell me why I would ever think of giving up such an amazing support group? There are many Tamil Canadians that only hang around with their own and have a difficult time connecting deeply with another race. And these people were born in Canada or immigrated here when they were so young, but their parents have passed on their ethnocentric values to them. After becoming a Social Worker, I realized that it all had to with adaptation. Some people cannot leave their comfort zone and have a hard time surviving outside of it. The more we focus on how different we are, we will only see differences. The more we focus on how connected we are, all we will see are opportunities to build wonderful relationships with any human being.
Now, let’s get into those black-men-loving comments I get. This is as a result of my big booty and my big personality. I was blessed with a curvy, thick and a voluptuous body. It took years for me to accept my body, but many of my black friends and some brown friends always appreciated it. I started to learn what a healthy body image is from my black girlfriends. When I was growing up, I would hear things like “Why are you yelling like a karuppi?” (Karuppi means black girl in Tamil). It is almost like a brown girl with opinions and confidence doesn’t, and shouldn’t, exist. I also happen to enjoy Caribbean music and love to dance. The sad part is, do you know that I mostly go clubbing with my fellow Tamil women? Which means there are many Tamils who live a similar lifestyle, and face the same attacks by those with ethnocentric views.
So, why do my Tamil people get disappointed when I chill with white people and date a black man? I speak Tamil fluently and represent the community on many platforms. I have advocated for the community during some tough times. For god sake, I am in Sri Lanka at this moment doing leadership in underdeveloped Tamil areas. My work will NEVER stop because I speak the language and understand the culture and most of all I feel our collective pain of historical oppression. I love my Tamil identity and roots. But Tamils need to understand that they have no right over my personal life and cannot impose their unhealthy dating, relationship and body image values on me.
Growing up, I was always taught to look down at other ethnicities because of our community’s ethnocentric values. Some Tamils believe that we are better than others. I used to hear ridiculous comments like “we don’t sleep around like white people, our women have chastity and morals, blacks and whites change partners like they change clothes and Tamils are hard workers and smart compared to others”. I refuse to support unhealthy views like these carried by any ethnicity. And I know I am too blunt for many Tamils because we’re still a community that doesn’t openly talk about issues. But guess what? I don’t care. I will continue to speak up and the progressive Tamils will work with me like they do right now.
I know many fear about people losing their roots. Many South Asians have this fear after immigrating to western countries and I have seen some stupid social media campaigns. Some women started something called “reclaiming the bindhi” and they were bashing the white women who wore a bindhi or a saree. Clothes are just a form of an expression and we should be proud that others find our outfits intriguing. Are you going to give up your western clothes and only wear sarees every day? It is ridiculous to have such extreme thoughts. What I am trying to tell my Tamil women is that you don’t need to go to the extreme of bashing other cultures to be validated as a Tamil. If you are interested in knowing where your parents came from and what your roots are then take a trip, read some books and do your research. I am not saying that colonization didn’t happen, oppression doesn’t exist and white supremacy has disappeared. Why don’t we take a different approach of showing love and support and let each other enjoy each other’s cultures without attacking back? As Mahatma Ghandi said, be the change you want to see in the world.
Change is the only constant thing in the world. It is inevitable. Eventually the world is going to look very mixed and you wouldn’t even know who comes from which part of the world. Is that going to bother you? Then I really advise you find out where this fear is coming from. Will you decline an organ donor who is from another ethnicity? Will you deny help for a loved one from another race? If the answer is No, then wake up!
I chose the things I love from different cultures and created my life. I am damn happy and I have no fear of discussing even my failures. You know this because you can see my work and life online. I will stand up for Tamils, I will stand up for blacks, I will stand up for whites and any other human being. I don’t give a damn who thinks what and there is no room in my life for ignorant people. If you have a problem with me adapting and encouraging others to do the same then you can kiss my BIG BROWN ASS! And that is the BluntTRUTH.
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