Hannah Rashidi – Mixed English and Azerturk

When we think of mixed heritage, we tend to focus on the most interesting or, perhaps more honestly, exotic ethnicity that makes it up.

This puts me in a bit of a bind: my skin is white and my accent is English.

On top of that, my dad, who is the Azerturk part of my heritage, hasn’t really been around for much of my life, so I didn’t get to grow up with it naturally.

My mum, who is the English part of my heritage, didn’t care much for raising me based on cultural/gender/sexuality/age norms, but through values and principles.

I was happy with that, and I still am.

These things also meant that, in primary and high school, I wasn’t outwardly or culturally “white” enough to hang out with white people, nor “brown” enough to hang out with Asian people.

Some people let me know outright, some made it harder to unravel.

Some racists followed me home and threw rocks at me, insulting me for “looking Jewish”, because to them not white enough meant that I had to be the “wrong” kind of white.

I resented considering any part of myself to be English.

I started to become interested in Japanese language and culture when I was about 13, and this new point of reference helped me to realise that I knew more about both of my cultures than I had originally thought. My dad thought that my interest in learning Japanese was unfair, and incessantly blamed me for not learning his language instead. He just made me feel even worse for considering any part of myself to be Azerturk.

I’m at the point now where I’m keen to accept myself for who I am. I’m exploring both the English and the Azerturk parts of myself more.

A lot of people feel comfortable erasing my identity because of what I look like. They overlook the fact that my name is more than enough evidence that I’ve got double the heritage and a lot to look forward to.

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