Tuesday Tales 10/20: Experiences of a Multiracial South Asian

Written by Rahul Yates (@rahul.yates)


As a multiracial South Asian person, learning Bharata Natyam (Classical Indian dance) has given me a great way to connect with my fellow Indians. However, because I don't really look like them, which has led to some interesting experiences. For example, in February, some dancers and I performed at a Hindu temple in celebration of an Indian holiday. At the end, one of the attendees asked me if I was white, to which I replied “no, I’m Indian” because I was in a hurry to leave and also didn’t feel like explaining my mixed background to a stranger. However, her asking me if I was white left a bit of a sour taste in my mind, so to say, because I thought I had just “proved” my Indian-ness; I had performed Indian dance in an Indian temple on an Indian holiday. Looking back on this and other experiences I’ve had in my life where I have deliberately tried to just choose to just be one of my races, I realize now that I should be proud of my unique background.


Often, I view articulating my background as tedious or unnecessary, when it’s really none of the above. I know I should be proud of my identity, but because of negative experiences I’ve had, I find myself always drifting to one side more than the other, because I feel like I “gain” more from being of just that ethnicity, when really, I am who I am because of both of my ethnicities.


In a perfect world, people wouldn’t assume the backgrounds of others, and it would be easier for multiracial people to explain their backgrounds and have them accepted, instead of having to “prove” you are what you say you are.


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