Name, Age and Ethnicity

On one of my tweets the other day I reminisced about what my sociology teacher had once told me.

He told me that I would statistically account for nothing; being Muslim, being a female member of a culturally oppressing society living in London, and being working class. The bit I couldn’t add to the tweet was how traumatic my reaction was.

He started off the lesson talking about social barriers, how theoretically they where pre-determined, we are realistically just placed in the hierarchy through birth. Basically a standard A-level sociology class. The however he started pointing at people and used a set of pre-determined questions like what is your name, age, ethnicity and colour. Everyone answered quite bluntly and gleefully took on his responses. Whereas I, me on the other had to go the extra length and have a panic attack.

I could feel the tension raising in my chest as he turned around and looked at me, I thought about my shit position on the hierarchy scale. OK, I’m not so bad I do have a few social advantages as my family was not so obsessed with all the culturally determined norms but cared for my general well fair.

So he asks me the obvious questions and by the time he gets to my ethnicity, I’m panting. So indulged in his lesson plan he continues telling the class about how I would be disadvantaged in society. The teacher didn’t know what hit him when another student told him I wasn’t breathing properly. He paused and took me straight out, straight to the school counsellor’s room and left me there with the lovely calm lady and a paper bag.

You see my problem wasn’t what he said, or how he said it, we as a class were his perfect examples actually. It was that at the age of 16 I knew all this. Realisation wasn’t the cause of my reaction either; it was how hard it was going to be, to be something. I had been trying for many years to support my family, being the voice of anger and working against the oppressions of the adult world I now had to worry about my teenage ones too. My reaction was a tired reaction; I had become overwhelmed knowing that I individually would never account for much even by trying harder then I already was doing so.

I was given two opportunities in life, and I was left to choose. You see at 16 ‘to choose’ should never be an option, as 16 is an age you are nowhere near making a right choice. My choices were presented by images of what I could be when I was older. On the one side I had the image of a marriage like my mother and fathers and on the other hand I had an image of an American/European independent female living with a partner image. I choose the independent girl.

The girl was young with blonde hair bouncing about her apartment, to later find love in a charismatic, free-willed-kind-of guy just to have brunch with books and newspapers in a little bistro on early Sunday afternoons.

I’m not blonde, I was blonde for a very long time but the strain it had on my hair was too much so I now I have a mediocre brunette bob, I have Sunday coffee in a little high street parallel to the Bosporus sea front. Instead of reading I write my blog. However I am independent, I do play my own flute and horn my own horn. The context is there but visually the image has changed. And my charismatic free-willed-kind-of guy is a big-hearted bear that enjoys nicking my phone to play Fruit Ninja… he’s still a boy really.

I seconded the tweet with reassurance as I know I am everything I make myself, I am a woman and wouldn’t be anything else, I am me and I have accepted working hard.


About An Addled Moment

I came to Istanbul to discover not only this beautiful city and its nightlife but I’m also here to discover me.
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2 Responses to Name, Age and Ethnicity

  1. I was an immigrant in the 1950s. As much as I believe people had a preconceived idea of us (Europeans who couldn’t speak the language–I was 4), I wonder if we have made any progress. We must have HOPE. Forget the prof; he is not God. There IS hope.

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