I am both, but also neither.

Nisha Ahamed
Jersey City, NJ

My mother is German, raised in Canada and my father is Indian Muslim. I was born and still live in the US. I grew up in a very white area, and now live in a very multicultural city. When I walk down the street in the Indian section of town, I take a deep breath and start to relax; the sounds and smells are so familiar and comforting. Yet I can see people wondering what I’m doing there. When I am in Germany, I feel the same, affection, familiarity, and initially comfort. But then, from some people, there is hostility at my darker skin and eyes. I speak the language, but some people ignore me, choosing to speak to my blond cousin instead… I do feel like things are starting to change now, and that we can talk about these things in a way we couldn’t before. But still, more than thirty years of feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere, sensing that part of me is undesirable, of having to explain who I am to people does leave scars.

 

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