Categorized | Satire

Diversity is a Chinese Lesbian Wearing a Sari

Posted on 30 June 2010 by . defines “diversity” as the state or fact of being…blah, blah, blah. Who cares! I mean really! What kind of Canadian, especially a Torontonian goes to an online dictionary to find out the meaning of diversity? Scratch that, what kind of person in general starts anything off with, “The dictionary defines_______ as…” How little must these people know about their topics? I don’t need a dictionary to define diversity, in the same way I don’t need a dictionary to define a wedding or funeral. I know what these things are, I’ve experienced them, and some ten-word entry in an online dictionary isn’t going to change the way I feel. So I say f*** the mechanical definitions of the online dictionary, because this is what diversity means to me.

One of my friends asked me something interesting the other day, “YO B-LAL, is diversity a positive or negative thing?” Well, I replied, firstly it’s pronounced “bil-al”, and secondly, I’m not sure. It’s a strange question, sort of like asking if a chair is a positive or negative thing. Well, I guess sitting on a chair is quite nice, but getting beaten with one isn’t too much fun. Essentially, that means that the answer is your choice, the glass can be half empty or half full. Of course many people feel that their native culture is being diluted, and slowly slipping out of their grasp. They struggle to hold on to their traditions, and a way of life that was once familiar. What some of these people don’t understand is that even culture is time sensitive. The country you left 20 years ago is not the same country you will find today; things change, people change, and the world changes. And now I’m changing paragraphs.

So, am I saying that the people who stringently try to preserve their culture are doing wrong? Of course not, there is nothing wrong with trying to preserve your native culture. It’s the closest thing you have to being back home, or rather I should say the place you grew up. It’s something you want to show your children, “This is where I came from, this is a tiny bit of the life I used to have before I came to this country”. In a world that I feel is slowly becoming homogenized by globalization, it’s nice to know we have people who are fighting back against the Coco-Cola takeover. It’s because of people like this we have places like Chinatown, Kensington Market, and of course Little India (also my hip-hop name). These people, inadvertently (or not) contributed greatly to the diversity of Toronto, and Canada by first serving a community that was a home away from home.

Unlike the people I’ve discussed above, I’m not really a “conserver” of the culture; I’m the product of a new one. As the title of the paper suggests, I’m the “generation next.” I’m the Pakistani with chopsticks dipping samosas into wasabi. I grew up in diversity referring to it as normality, as is often the case. I guess the greatest advantage of this upbringing is that you begin to forget about the ethnicity of other people; it’s simply not something you consciously think about. To someone who was raised in diversity, race is simply subtext. One of my best friends is a Vietnamese guy named Tinh. When ever we go to lunch or visit each other I never think “this guy is Asian” even though he is. In my head, he’s just my friend Tinh. Of course this isn’t to say race is invisible, it stares you right in the face. From time to time Tinh and I will ask each other about our cultural customs, or practices. But for the most part we throw jokes at each other that acknowledge our ethnic minority-ism.  For example, yesterday I went to chill with Tinh and we ate some pizza.

Tinh: Why are you people always late? What happened this time, did you get a hole in the magic flying carpet?

Billal: Why are you always so early? This is two friends having lunch, not a corporate Japanese business meeting. Also, I’m not sure an Asian guy should be making driving jokes, no matter what the vehicle.

And then we laugh, unless someone takes it too far in which case we continue to eat in awkward, racist silence.

Ethnicity is what we commonly associate with diversity, which is of course true, but not all encompassing. While exploring Toronto I visited Church and Wellesley which is Toronto’s LGBT-oriented community. If you’re still not sure what I’m talking about, this neighborhood is also known as: the Gay Ghetto, the Gay village (which makes the residents village people), and my personal favorite, the Gaybourhood. Not to stereotype homosexuals, but the place looked fabulous. Also, I’ve never felt so attractive in my life, granted I was hit on by men and I’m straight, but hey, it’s the thought that counts, right? It’s like the old saying goes; all the good ones are either taken, gay, or write for the South Asian Generation Next.

In essence, a true Canadian knows that diversity is the act of simultaneously being different, equal, and united. Diversity isn’t just watching both Hollywood and Bollywood movies. Diversity is Chinese lesbians wearing saris, and South Asians eating with chopsticks. It’s about making pizzas out of roti (don’t pretend like you haven’t tried), and dipping samosas into wasabi. It’s about participating, while allowing others to participate, and conserving, while at the same time changing. It’s about knowing that we are all Canadians and privileged to be so. Happy Birthday Canada!

Email: where you can send a diversity of compliments and complaints.

Author:Billal M. Sarwar

Leave a Reply

Advertise Here
Advertise Here