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"We were exposed to this duality that we could embrace being Canadian and embrace our roots which was very empowering."
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"Hey honey... you're getting a bit fat..."
As people of colour, we sometimes have this idea that not being white meant going through similar struggles and hardships. And although this doesn't mean hardships and racism doesn't exist for South Asians, it's not the same and never will be. The n-word is offensive, and always will be.
My Jamaican Grandparents came to Canada in 1967, just after new immigration laws allowed entry on the basis of a new merit-based points system. My entire life, the Jamaican-Canadian trajectory story from their humble Caribbean beginnings, to the United Kingdom where they met as students, and finally to Canada with their four young children for opportunities they could not afford in Jamaica, has been etched into my conscience as a constant reminder of how far our family has come, to seize the opportunities and carve out the legacy that is now well underway.
"By the time I was born, my life path and all its details were decided for me."
"I learned I had a body through your condemnation of my body."
"I finally opened up to my dad last year... that was really hard."
Brian Vinh Tien Trinh
"How are we going to survive?"
Who am I? If you look at what I eat and what I cook, it's the equivalent of throwing a dart at a map. The easy answer is that I'm Canadian. Few nationalities give you the privilege of good global gastronomy with such ease. The complicated answer is that I'm someone longing to reconnect with my Vietnamese roots.
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Growing up, my parents had never imposed their cultures on me -- my cultural identity had always felt like a decision between Canadian, Trinidadian and British. It wasn't until I had recently retired my soccer cleats when I'd realized I had never had to make the choice, that I could be all three.
Why was I jonesing so hard for "white-people lunch" when I was young?
When I was a kid, I wasn't up on a Saturday morning watching cartoons while eating fruit loops. Instead, like many Tamil children, I was usually half asleep trying to learn the language that I first learned to speak. I didn't hate going to Tamil school because I missed out on cartoons. I think I hated going because it was a hard language to learn.
Over the years, my parents' suitcases have revealed gifts of dried squid and wasabi peas, ginger tea and hot sauce, leftover hotel toiletries and Korean face masks. It's kind of bewildering. Do they not realize we are more than capable of buying our own produce and toiletries? That we are gainfully employed and functioning adults?