Maybe a ham, not a coconut

This summer, someone called me a coconut, or brown on the outside and white on the inside. It pissed me off.

What does it mean to be a “coconut”?

Am I a coconut because I like hockey, listen to Great Big Sea and will chow down on a poutine at a moment’s notice? Is it because I speak English and French, not Hindi and Punjabi? Or is it because I think Red Green and Corner Gas are brilliant TV shows?

Frankly, I don’t call those white stereotypes. I call those Canadian stereotypes.

And that’s where I introduce today’s rant.

People who call me white, a coconut, a potato, or whatever ridiculous inanimate object falls into the same category, are more racist than the people they claim aren’t accepting them into Canadian culture.

First off, the many different varieties of “white” culture can’t be homogenized. A Pole has very little in common with a New Zealander, save maybe for skin colour (which is actually probably slightly different, too). They have different foods, languages, histories and religions. Their ways of life are entirely different. So how can they be one and the same?

If people get upset over someone thinking their family’s Pakistani when they’re Indian, or someone thinking they’re Chinese when they’re Korean, then they ought never to homogenize white people, either.

Secondly, if people are going to complain about not being integrated cleanly into Canadian society, let me give them a few hints. If one chooses to separate themselves from society, it will be difficult for them to integrate. If one spends a large amount of time questioning the validity of a society, it will be difficult for them to integrate. If one spends their time talking about how little they want to be part of a given society, wanting instead to be part of the society their parents left behind, it will be difficult for them to integrate.

Lastly, people who make sweeping assumptions about Canadians are just as bad as the people who call me a Paki. By the same token, when one makes sweeping assumptions about who I am based on the colour of my skin, they’re as ignorant as the people who call me a Paki.

I’m not going to get into the issue of privilege because, unlike many people I’ve come across in the past month or so, I don’t happen to think white males are the devil. It seems mighty discriminatory to lump all people who fit into that category under a specific set of characteristics. In my experience, the people who’ve made sweeping generalizations about me have been brown and of all genders. White males have been extremely accepting of me.

There’s a distinct Canadian culture which so many children of immigrants decide to ignore, choosing instead to be party to the culture their parents left behind. Fine. I don’t hold it against you if you want to have pride in your heritage, but I simply ask to be left alone to celebrate my Canadian-ness.

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