When am I English?


I came across something the other day that wasn’t exactly racism, but an assumption based on skin colour. No offence was caused or intended, but it set me thinking. I referred to someone we had just met as English and my friend questioned it, saying ‘she isn’t English, she’s black’. Now this is a curious state of affairs, and it has brought into question what you have to do to be defined as a nationality. Is it where you are born or is it where your parents are from or born? Is it about your grandparents and your heritage? Or is it just where you feel you belong?

I class myself as a bit of a mixture. Although I was born in England, I am only a quarter English. My mother is half Swiss, half English whereas my dad is half Welsh, half Irish making me a quarter of each. So I am technically as Swiss as I am English as I am Irish as I am Welsh, and if I had to chose one, where would I place myself? It would be incredibly difficult to be honest, but I’d love to be able to say Swiss, although my grasp of the language isn’t fluent and I have never lived there. But looking at me in the street, most people would place me as classic English. Fair skin, brown hair, no accent where in fact my friend with darker skin and darker hair is much more English than me.

So I draw as a conclusion that it is not by appearance, nor is it by where you were born, but it is where you feel the strongest pull to, the place that you would consider your country. And being a bit of a mixture won’t make that pull any weaker, I assure you.

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