In this column, I have been addressing how the existence of the Ministry of Ethnic Communities is actually detrimental for a multicultural nation like New Zealand. The governmental organisation, by its sheer existence, is segregating the multicultural fabric into pockets of communities.
In the name of recognising their individuality, we are preventing the various communities from integrating. What is considered mainstream does not include the community that is the oldest on this land; rather it is the community that is the largest in numbers comprise the mainstream –a community that has multiplied over a couple of centuries.
Then, what happened to the community that resided on this land before the currently largest community made their way here? How come their numbers have not increased as fast as that of the largest community? That's where the history of the land gets murky. Let us leave the political analysis of this for another day.
Today, let us talk about what makes us different. How can we overcome our uniqueness to become one with the mainstream?
Names give us our first identity. To integrate with the mainstream culture, immigrants often modify their given names. So traditional names like Mohendra become Mo and Sallishni become Sally. Fair enough.
The younger generations give their newly-borns names that have universal pronunciations. Thus, they make it easier for other cultures to get familiar with them. People across cultures who have catchy or easy names, usually grow up to be more popularamong their peers. Can you think of a leader, political or otherwise, who has a name that is difficult to pronounce?
Next, let’s consider the looks. How we appear in society depends on the latest fashion trends. Accordingly, we tend to choose the colours and cuts of what we wear. We style our hair also somewhat similarly. If we don’t, we are labelled ‘retro’ or ‘punk’, given our preferences. This is true across all cultures and communities.
Then what makes us different? Did you say, it is our accent? Not so much, I would say, because our accents are acquired. If you live with a certain kind of people for long enough, you started speaking like them. So this difference boils down to new and old immigrants – and how fast they acquire foreign accents.
And that leaves us with our skin colour - something that we cannot change. Alas!