When I was a little kid, the Toronto neighborhood I lived in was very multicultural. My neighbors included people from across a range of cultures, as well as lots of other South Asian families. It felt safe and comfortable. It felt like home.
But then my parents decided to move.
In my new neighborhood I stood out, but not in a good way. I was surrounded by affluent white kids, who weren’t used to cultural diversity. Let’s just say that my long black braids, dark brown skin, simple clothes, and chicken curry lunches were not well embraced.
I endured a truckload of racist bullying, which caused me to want to reject my cultural heritage. And unfortunately, this was in tandem with the challenges I was having on the home front with my parents in reconciling the clash between my Canadian identity and my Punjabi identity.
I felt lost, confused, and trapped between cultures — what I call my “ethnic identity crisis” — like I didn’t belong anywhere. This experience continued for many years until I changed the way I think about my identity and about what it means to find belonging.
In this video, I talk about my challenges with my ethnic identity and what led me to find peace in who I am.
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