Does it matter if you’re black or white?

What’s cookin’ good lookin 

Moving to New Zealand at the age of 12, an age of social development and finding of oneself lead to a lot of confusion. My first day of school at Remuera Intermediate was truly traumatic. I knew absolutely no one AND because i’d joined in year 8, relationships had already formed in year 7 and everyone else already had friends.

I had buckteeth; curly (ok frizzy) hair was Black as night and had one seriously seductive accent. People were pretty much lining up to be my friend. My teacher found me hesitating to leave class at morning tea so she told a girl in my class to introduce me to her friends. This girl rolled her eyes and took me outside to a group of girls whom i later found out made up 50% of the Kapa Haka crew. I fit right in. After about 2 minutes of awkwardly standing around and trying to join in with their jokes the girl told me to turn around and “follow the light”.

I awkwardly laughed really hard (dying on the inside) and just told myself to laugh it off and walk like i didn’t care. I must’ve looked like such a tosser strutting back to my classroom. My teacher found me about 2 minutes later and obviously took pity. She said “I’ll find you some friends!”. Do you know how many cool points you get when your teacher tries to find you friends? Not many…

Bless her heart, she found the first two Brown girls and said “You’re Indian aren’t you? (I’m Sri Lankan) This is a new girl Ketarki (close enough). She has no friends (cooool). Can you please play with her and show her around”. Turns out the girls were from year 7, One was from Dubai and just really tanned and it was also their first day but they were really lovely and we hung out for the first week till I made friends with my actual classmates.

A year later when it was time to leave for highschool and I’d cemented my relationships with peers in my own year group, I was informed that I had gotten into Dio and would therefore be attending Dio. All my friends were going to Eggs. I definitely cried. Can you blame me? Would you want to relive my first day?

I’m probably one of the few people that actually benefitted from Dio’s Buddy system. Mine was awesome. Lydia played the electric Bass (totally badass) and loved ‘The suite life of Zach and Cody’ (even more badass) and was the most welcoming person.

A few years into Dio I looked at my friend group and one thing definitely struck me. My year group was predominantly white. And of the 7 “brown” girls in our entire year, 4 of them sat with me. It wasn’t long before I was asked to join the Indian dance crew (still not Indian…) and the teacher in charge would speak Hindi to me, regardless of the fact she knew I was Sri Lankan. She told me I had to learn it.

I loved school but I think the lack of diversity has left me extremely confused. I started milking the fact people couldn’t tell the difference. I let People think I’m good at accounting, or believe that I’m a lot smarter than I actually am. My bus driver always greets me with a “Namaste”. One guy asked me if I was good at Kama Sutra. I just nod. They will never know. I know its really bad but I can’t help myself. Its too easy.

Then my friends and I thought we were the closest that Dio had to actual African Americans so we often refer to ourselves as each others “black-up” (definitely not African American enough to get away with that), Sometimes my best friends refer to me as “Maaa nigga” (seriously Shreenal stop, someone’s going to hit you one of these days). And its not just the “Black” issue that gets confusing.

Sri Lanka is part of Asia. I make Asian jokes ALL the time. People must think I’m really racist making Asian jokes but technically I’m FULL Asian. Geography bro.

Aside from LOVING curry I have almost no stereotypical “ethnic interests”. Guys I play the cello, genuinely enjoy Western classical music. Sometimes I listen to Jazz? What of it? I only like cricket if the English team is playing and that’s only because the talent is better and by that I meant they’re much much hotter than the Sri Lankan team. I feel like I’ve let down the team. I think its time for a visit back home. Maybe a cup of Dilmah. This is getting out of hand.

At 21 I’ve learnt to embrace all the races I’ve decided I belong to. They are yet to embrace me but that’s alright. I’d like to think that if I were to go back to that first day of social awkwardness that the Kapa Haka group wouldn’t tell me to go find the light or at least explain to me what they meant by that. Did they tell me to die? and follow the light to heaven? Because I was 12 and that’s a bit extreme guys.

This blog has achieved nothing.


Racially confused.

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