Thought I’d write a quick post on why I chose the name of my blog. Perhaps this should have come first – but I didn’t feel the need at the time and it’s here now.
Recently a friend and I were talking about the struggles of finding other Bengali friends who are woke. The context behind the conversation: traditionally, Bengali parents (and families in general) would prefer it if their child married someone who is also Bengali. In some families this is more than just preference and more of a requirement.
This angered me a lot as I was growing up. I could see the local boys hurting my friends, being immature and I guess being like all other boys at the age. But I internalised this as a Bengali thing and was determined not to marry a Bengali person. And slowly, as I realised my father would probably never allow me marry the mixed-race, tattoo covered revert of my dreams*, I decided I would never get married.
* If you know such a person, help a sister out and introduce us 😉
(I would like to note here my father no longer has any input in my life and my mum is nothing like that. She is a strong, faithful and my rock. Even though she would always put my happiness first, I still know she would prefer it if I found or she helped me find a nice Bengali boy.)
Things changed, I actually dated a Bengali boy and we were going to get married. Until things changed again but let’s not get into that here. The point is I no longer hate Bengali boys.
That does not take away from the whole ‘families preferring Bengali boys’ dilemma but I’ve come to appreciate the reason behind it. My parents are immigrants, forced to leave their families and cultures to live in a land where the people typically hate them and watch their own children grow up rejecting it too. I think this is their last attempt to maintain that beloved culture, to place back some of the displacement they feel.
I, too, grew up rejecting it. I wanted to wear jeans not selwar kameezes and I refused to learn how to read and write Bengali properly. It’s pointless I said. But the more I woke, the more I come to appreciate and love my heritage. I now read into my own histories, not just that of Bangladesh but also of the migrants who came to the UK.
And that leads me back to my conversation with my friend. We were talking about how we would not mind marrying someone Bengali so long as they are woke. Unfortunately we could name only a few in our activist groups and that got us wondering if we’d ever find someone who satisfies both our families and ourselves. I refuse to marry someone who isn’t socially aware. I do not think we would last one conversation together.
So the name aptly resembles my struggle of thinking like I do, seeing things like I do and feeling things like I do whilst all around me people are still asleep. But it’s more than that. It’s a progress for me too as I am only at the tip of waking up and have so much more to learn – so much from my elders and so much from communities across the globe.
Woke (n) being aware. Knowing whats going on in the community. Often related to racism and social injustice.