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'Why isn’t multiculturalism accepted in society nowadays?'

DEBATE: 'Why isn’t multiculturalism accepted in society nowadays?'

I BELIEVE society and the environment you live in can alter your opinions and the way you view life.

Stereotypes can alter our thinking towards different religions, sexualities and ethnicities amongst other things. I think it is fair to say we’ve all been there and I can only talk about this from my personal experience.

I am a young British mixed-race father of Montserratian and Iranian heritage. My parents were of mixed religions (Christian and Muslim) and they taught me about both without any prejudice being passed onto me.

I’m Iranian so people associate me with terrorism. I’m also Caribbean so I get all the Black stereotypes as well. I was a victim of racial profiling whilst travelling to New York. They looked at my full Iranian name and my facial hair, and then took me for questioning in several rooms searching me for signs of terrorism.

Although I’m a mixed-race father, some people categorise me as black – putting me under the negative thumbprint of being a deadbeat absent dad which isn’t necessarily true. Why subject me to such extreme measures? Why should I be judged by a country’s politics I don’t believe and am not a part of? What does race have to do with being a good dad? My stereotypes are thrust into me like a sharp pronged fork.

Even I’ve succumbed to society’s notions of preconceived prejudices. As I looked Black and never wanted to complicate things with people who didn’t understand my culture, I just called myself Black. I even changed the pronunciation of my Iranian name to a more British phonetic so people could say it properly. I wrote a poem 'The Black Boy' that harked over these issues and overcoming them by being myself and being a positive influence. However as I didn’t know my Iranian family, all I could truly talk about was my Caribbean identity.

Now, I’m very comfortable with my heritage. I struggled a lot coming to terms with who I am and how to represent myself. But there is a clear lack of understanding of our multiculturalism. We are so far behind in accepting certain cultures due to the stereotypes engrained in us. Multiculturalism has altered our minds into thinking about mixed heritage in a certain way. For example, even though my cultural fusion is unique, when I tell people I’m mixed-race – I’m looked at as a Black/Caucasian combination when in fact I’m not. My Iranian father was olive-skinned or yellow - so in short I’m a bumblebee.

This valid point even extends to current American President Barack Obama. He’s known as the first African-American president of the United States, yet he is in fact mixed-race. His father was Kenyan and his mother was an American Caucasian with British ancestry. We tend to blame the media for this misconstruction of his heritage.

However, if the President hadn’t needed to live his life as a black man due to society’s understanding, wouldn’t the media report his heritage more accurately? His identity had already been amended. It’s unrealistic, dishonest and unfair!

This country’s make-up has moved forward at such a fervent pace, multiculturalism is second nature. Yet, we are so intolerant of this colouring of British identity that we haven’t been able to catch up or manage its growth. Society is trapped - as instead of embracing this eclecticism, it is trying to make this issue black and white by pigeonholing it.

The fact is that our cultures have merged together to become diversely stronger. I would like to live in a world where my daughter is embraced for her cultural identity instead of being questioned about it.

The 'Head to Head' column is by the London 360 reporters. To find out more about what our reporters are up to go to communitychannel.org/london360 WE ARE LONDON!

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