Coconuts and bananas

Semi-busy day. Started off with a quick chat with Sonia Deol on BBC Asian Network. They wanted an East Ender’s view on the Olympics a year on after London was elected as the host. Then I took the bane of my existence (the Northern Line) to work. Forgot to pick up a copy of the Eastern Eye (I have a short article in there this week) and finally made it into work. Late. But it’s ok because I’m here now. Listening to Otis. Wasting time.

So anyway, no, I haven’t suddenly decided to adopt a healthier diet, the title of this entry actually refers to things I have been called in the past. I’m sure most British-Asians are familiar with the term “coconut” to mean an Asian person who acts/thinks like a White person (i.e. “Brown on the outside, White on the inside”). This term can also be adapted to “banana” in order suit people who have a lighter skin tone (i.e. “Yellow on the outside. White on the inside”). I have been called “coconut”, “banana” and “posh” on more than one occasion, often by people who I have met for the first time.

Apparently, the first and foremost reason I am called this is the way I speak: I speak English, not a hybrid of “rudeboy slang” and text-speak.

The second reason is because I am not really into Bollywood or Bhangra. But am I really a coconut just because I prefer Ike and Tina to Metx and Trix? (Though it does take a very specific kind of genius to come up with “Check one, check two. Here we go with the bhangra crew”).

And yes, I would rather go and see the latest Hollywood rather than Bollywood flick (Three hours of “Boy meets Girl. Boy loses Girl. Boy gets Girl back” loses its appeal after a while) but that doesn’t mean to say I think and act like a white person and it doesn’t mean I automatically write something off because it is a product of the Asian community.

I’m not a massive fan of Bollywood or Bhangra but I love “Akheer” by Juggy D and I count “Lagaan” as one of my favourite films, Asian or otherwise. I’m not going to list every Asian song/film/product* I like because it’s unnecessary and kind of silly. All I really need to say is that I appreciate good music and good films whichever genre they belong to and wherever they come from. I am discerning, not prejudiced.

Overall, I guess this entry is kind of pointless because to be perfectly honest with you, being called those things doesn’t really bother me. I know it isn’t meant offensively and I wouldn’t dream of taking it that way. I know that I value my background and my roots as much as anyone. Respect (for elders, for each other and for yourself) is the defining characteristic of Asian culture and that is something I am 100% proud of.

Leave a comment