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“Yeah, but I’m half-Pakistani so …” try not to say anything Pakiphobic.Though my name nudges some people in the right direction, it doesn’t always.I feel less of a need to explain myself when I’m among a large population of Spanish people.

“I want to say: ‘Do you know how hurtful that is to somebody who identifies so strongly with half of who she is? “If you’re obviously Black, White people watch their tongues, but with me they think they can say anything.

When people don’t know ‘what’ you are, you get your heart broken daily.” But for someone like me, who identifies so little with half of who she is, questions about my ethnicity don’t break my heart as often as they surprise me.

I remember one recent Christmas sitting in the living room of my boyfriend’s father’s house in the U. My boyfriend is White and so is the rest of his family.

I’m half-Pakistani on my mother’s side, but because that half of my ethnicity does not extend beyond my epidermis, I am otherwise entirely White like my dad—facial features and cultural features alike.

I’ll be with a White friend and in the context of race refer to “us” as though our ethnicities are continuous, or I’ll be asked what my background is and for a millisecond wonder what that means.

If I had been at the SAG Awards over the weekend, the conversation between Rashida Jones and Danielle Demski, a TNT correspondent, could have just as easily occurred between Demski and me.“You look like you’ve just come off an island or something,” she told Jones. Very tropical.” Visibly confused and rightfully so, the star, who most contemporary entertainment reporters know (or should know) is the daughter of legendary Black music producer Quincy Jones and White actress Peggy Lipton, replied with exemplary good nature: “I mean, you know, I’m ethnic.”, Kidada said her famous sib often “passed for White.” Rashida was shocked.At one point his father made reference to “the Paki shop” down the street, a racist colloquialism particular to England that is less willfully un-p.c. I didn’t notice the expression, no doubt under the familiar misapprehension I was as White as everyone around me, until my boyfriend’s father stopped speaking and covered his mouth before coughing out an embarrassed laugh.I brushed it off but my mind couldn’t—at that point I was the designated “other” in the room and it lasted for the rest of the visit.I felt the same sense of frustrated alienation in high school when a younger girl sitting next to me on the bus one day inquired politely whether a chicken pox scar in the middle of my forehead was my “Paki dot” (I politely responded that Pakistanis were not branded with bindis at birth).Sometimes I will bring up my ethnicity so no one else has to, a sort of preemptive racial strike.

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