I feel like over the past few weeks, I’ve been very much in my own head. I’m not sure if you can tell but that is very much a recurring theme. I tend to make that the subject of my writing which can get very boring, very, very fast. But this time it was different. Today as I tried to make a decision about what to have to drink with breakfast since I’ve been trying not to drink coffee, I noticed I had a box of chai tea and remembered how much I used to drink it during college. So I made it, and after drinking it I wanted to see where chai tea originated because although I faintly remember it being from India, the last time I took a class on World History was in high school.
What I’m trying to get at via this chai tea story is that it made me think about being West Indian. I was born in America but before me, my entire family was born in Guyana. Both sides. So, therefore if someone asks me what I am I begin by saying I was born in New York but my nationality and culture is West Indian, Guyanese. Before I used to be very embarrassed to admit that because I wasn’t born there, so I felt like a fraud. But I was raised in a house full of Guyanese people, we eat traditionally West Indian food regularly, I grew up watching Bollywood films with my grandparents. It’s very much my culture, my understanding of the world comes from my West Indian views as well as my American ones.
I think it is easier for me now to appreciate who I am and where my family comes from. I take pride in being raised the way I was. I’m glad I know how to cook curry and roti as well as a kick ass mac and cheese and baked chicken. When I think about what it means to be American, its difficult to pinpoint exactly what that means because growing up in New York, you’re very aware of the melting pot of cultures they vaguely talked about that one time in history class. American culture is such a mixture of every culture that has resided within it’s borders and to say otherwise is a misconception.
Who knew some spiced tea could cause all this reflection. I think now with the hostile political climate, I want nothing more than to feel like I have a place. Like taking up this space is not a bad thing. I want to be part of my West Indian community as well as my American community and the place where the two overlap. But with the current us vs. them that is going on, I think its going to take a while to get back to where I felt that comfort. Truthfully, the last time I felt that way was in grade school.
To wrap up, I’m not sure if I’m thanking my tea, my parents for being West Indian, or this website for being here and allowing me the opportunity to reflect on how culture has impacted my life recently, but thank you regardless. I’ve been granted a life without true hardship and that is solely because of the hard work my parents have put in. Their values live on through my brother (not so much myself, I find he’s a better example of hard work paying off). Also, thank you for reading these ramblings. I’m sure there is a particularly horrifying news article you’re avoiding while reading this and I’m sorry this conversation must now come to an end. All the best for the upcoming weekend.