I have lived in this country for 34 years and I am completely exhausted from jumping through hoops and shooting imaginary balls into moving goalposts to prove that I am a worthy ethnic minority. Sometimes it is no fun being an ethnic being. In fact, it takes a terrible toll on us. Witness me writing this blog on a Sunday evening while I leave my curry to burn on the stove.
The rules of engagement in a majority white country requires people like me (ethnic people, in other words) to constantly evaluate ourselves, our likes and dislikes, our loyalties to such an extent that we feel like we are filling in a Japanese HR form. Everyone knows that Japanese corporations extract their pound of flesh by requiring workers to do exercises in the morning at their desks and to sing songs that pledge undying loyalty to the company.
Paying one’s taxes isn’t enough. I have never even claimed benefits eventhough I am a proponent of the welfare system because I was born and brought up in Asia where I saw people live in shanty huts who could have done with a leg up in life if a welfare safety net had existed. On top of all this I am remarkably tolerant of the white majority who appropriate our culture by turning our normal staples of rice and curry ( I only speak for Asians here) into a treat such as a ‘Friday night curry take away’ or the wearing of a Sari to an Indian friend’s wedding because “Saris are so exotic”.
Years ago Norman Tebbit, a former Minister in Thatcher’s cabinet, proposed the cricket test. This went something along the lines of if you were an Asian watching a cricket match between England and an Asian country whom would you be cheering on? This test proved to be a non-starter when Asians started playing for England and Asian spectators cheered these players on. It left everyone feeling so confused that I am not surprised that Asians didn’t give up cricket and play some other game like Badminton.
Then we had the ‘British Values’ test whereby Asian immigrants had to somehow prove that their values co-existed with the British ones. This hit a solid wall when debate after debate took place about what ‘British Values’ really are. Answers ranged from people scratching their heads and declaring “Dunno” to high intellectual debate about the meaning of citizenship and the rights of it. Ofsted stepped in in November 2014 and declared that schools had to promote British values. I asked my daughter who takes PSHE very seriously whether she had learnt about British values and her answer was “I have no idea”. Seeing that we pay a lot of money for her to attend private school her articulation of the negative brought some relief than a “Dunno” would have.
See where I am heading here? No? and you expect me to know the rules of the game.
Lastly, we now have the baking test. I have not watched a single episode of the Great British Bake Off. I only know about the presenters because they are featured in the press so much. My only worthy knowledge of the programme is the fact that Paul Hollywood had an affair. I read it in The Guardian, my daily newspaper. However, as soon as I heard that a Muslim head scarf wearing woman called Nadiya Hussain had won my prediction was that it would be turned into a race centred pivotal point for multiculturalism. Voila! it has. You see Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein and he has been harangued endlessly for being a Muslim even though he is not.
Rather predictably the Daily Mail waded in pronto and has accused the BBC of social engineering. To be fair, white contestants of the programme have been pilloried for not adhering to some British stereotype who bakes lovely cakes.
I will never cut it, personally speaking, and I am not talking about slicing beautiful cakes up either. I don’t know how to bake. My daughter has always gone into school on cake days with one bought from a high-street supermarket. I don’t understand cricket and don’t watch any of it. As for British values, I stand some chance here because I read Law and Ofsted defines ‘British Values’ as ‘democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith’ but I thought these were universal moral codes.
I give up.