The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla
What does it mean to have to change your name for your classmates to be able to pronounce and remember it? How does it feel to be considered a threat at every airport? What does it take if you cannot see yourself as the subject of stories? Why are Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling “our boys” as long as they score a goal and subject to racist abuse if they ever miss one?
“The world saw blackness in me before it saw anything else and operated around me with blackness in mind. There was a drama to blackness, a certain swagger and verve, an active way of experiencing and being experienced that mixedness could not accommodate, one that I was committed to embodying fully. There was one thing I’d never considered about mixing red and yellow: a drop of yellow into red paint won’t do much to change the colour, but one drop of red into yellow and the whole pot is tainted for ever.”
British author Nikesh Shukla has brought together 21 BAME voices to publish their thoughts on what it means to be “the good immigrant.” The essays in this collection address a wide variety of topics from the education system to the entertainment industry, language to cultural appropriation, from tokenism to mixed-race invisibility. From 21 different perspectives, The Good Immigrant offers answers to questions of why people migrates, how you integrate in a dominant culture or be in a country as “the other,” and what it feels like to live in a country without ever being wholeheartedly accepted. The essays vary in tone as much as they do in topic – ranging from angry to seriously funny – and some texts might be better than others, but all were convincing and moving in their raw honesty. The diversity of experience represented ensures that every reader will benefit from this collection in different ways but it will most definitely open many an eye about the reality of being British and an immigrant, whether first generation or second. This unapologetic collection is certainly a must-read!
“To be an immigrant, good or bad, is about straddling two homes, whilst knowing you don’t really belong to either. It is about both consuming versions of blackness, digging around in history until you get confirmation that you were there, whilst creating your own for the present and the future. It is up to you to make your own version of blackness in any way you can – trying on all the different versions, altering them until they fit.”