I had a hard time deciding which post from the first half of September 2006 to talk about. Was I going to look back at An International Episode, a story written by Henry James, or was I going to talk about the time I got "corneal ulcers" (my eyes are fine now, so no worries). On the surface, one definitely seems a little more interesting than the other (I think). However, what left me thinking was the comment someone left on the An International Episode post. It's a comment I never responded to, yet didn't delete. I just wasn't sure how I wanted to handle it. I guess I ended up with the old tried and true, "ignore it" solution. It kind of worked. It went away. I hadn't thought of this specific thing for about 10 years. Now though, I'm doing this thing where I look back at posts from the past and talk about them. I'm looking at how I felt about something and if those feelings and impressions have changed over the years. Like with last week's post, they can influence me now.
The comment may seem innocuous at first, just someone recommending a book, but it irks me. It's presumptuous. The commenter, whose blog I never visited because of my annoyance, assumes I'm Indian, which I'm not. It's something that's happened to me my whole life. I get it, I know I "look Indian", as explained to me by, like, a hundred people and I'm probably not exaggerating as this has been occurring since puberty. From that tiny little profile picture (which I aught to change, as it's been 10 years), this person assumed I was Indian . Also, I know it's different now, but it used to say in my "About Me" blurb that my parents immigrated from Trinidad and I was born in Canada. Admittedly, I do have some Indian heritage from several generations ago, but you wouldn't know that from reading my blog. The commenter recommended a book to me, entirely based on the presumption of my being Indian (and because the commener apparently lived in her neighbourhood). Not that I don't want to read Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake. I actually picked up a copy a few months ago, so I have it, with the intention of reading it. It also sounds like something I would relate to because of the immigration themes, as I have read a a few books from immigrants, Indian and otherwise, and find they often have similar issues. Not because the Indian part will "hit home" with me. Really, this person just sounds like they were trying to make a connection, but they didn't do it in a way that would get me to respond.
Have I blown this out of proportion? Maybe. Maybe the comment just represents something I've had to deal with my whole life. Presumption about my ethnicity, people asking where I'm "actually" from, people not liking or believing the response when I say I'm Canadian, is a decades old battle. Somehow, for some people, saying I'm Canadian is not good enough. Occasionally, I don't get "you look Indian". Sometimes people randomly speak to me in other languages, assuming I would know what they're saying. Just a few weeks ago (specifically, the night of the Tragically Hip concert on the CBC), someone spoke to me in Portuguese because he thought I was Brazilian. Seriously? Yup. I laughed it off. We were at a party and I wasn't going to let someone ruin our time. Though I did make fun of him and tried to point out what a dumb thing that was to do. He was older too. I find I get less of this from people my age or younger.
So, 10 years ago, I ignored the comment and this person, whoever they are. This came just a couple years after two different job situations in which I had to deal with some.... things. One was terrible; the other was more a steady stream of annoyance.
I know I usually don't talk about this kind of stuff; I like that my blog is about books and movies and in general, things that make me happy. I even thought about deleting all this once I wrote it. I don't even know how coherent it all is. It seems like a bit of a rant. The comment, these memories, and even a recent event, brought up such strong feelings in me. I'm a little hesitant to share these feelings on the internet, but today I'm feeling brave.
I feel like I should have some kind of concluding sentence or statement here, but I don't know what else to say. It's not like this kind of thing is going to "conclude" for me. At least it happens (to me at least) with less frequency than 10+ years ago. I guess for today, that's all she wrote.