I ENJOYED Pat Kane’s article on identity, (Connecting with the power of identity, The National, April 8), not least since it coincided with the news that the actor Freida Pinto, and Idris Elba’s film Guerrilla, were under scrutiny, if not attack, primarily due to the protagonist in the film being Asian and not a “black” woman. It has been claimed that the latter would be more historically accurate.
Guerrilla is set in the UK in the 1970s, and I can relate to the identity tags of “white”, “non-white” and “black”. Now, as anyone who knows me would tell you, I would never ever tick a box that identified me as being a “non” anything! So black was always a political term, signifying not skin colour, but politics and political defiance. Originally here in the UK and Scotland, it was all-encompassing whether African, African Caribbean, Asian, offering equal association to all others. It was a unifying word that identified the commonality of suffering and surviving racism; of attempting to achieve recognition of being beyond “saris, samosas and steel bands”, of having migrated, either ourselves, or our parents, our grandparents from former colonies that had experienced imperialism; colonies that had to fight, to struggle to gain their independence. Oh, and which one has subsequently said they can’t survive as an independent, and please can they become a colony again? None!
Over the years, both personally and professionally, I experienced the curiosity of not being sufficiently “black”. Strange then that the racism experienced didn’t diminish as my “blackness” did. But as I attempted to broaden my Scottish identity, I couldn’t prevent others from doing the same for themselves. I’ve sat through debates about black minority ethnic (BME), black ethnic minority (BEM), “people of colour” and recently, the very quiet insertion of the “A” into “BAME” (black Asian minority ethnic). Whilst this diversity should demonstrate a strength of being, being here, being secure, being confident enough to stake out identities within place, it shouldn’t divide us from common struggles. But there is no getting away from the “power of identity” as addressed in the article.
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As identity is a complexity of layering, peeling back can be both stimulating and exciting. With DNA use, I’ve now discovered that despite being an Anderson, my mother’s heritage is not of a Viking background! Across the spectrum of identity, from the political, to the social, to the personal, from the intricacy of the individual, to the digital, I believe the “power” should still be in the ability to self determine and self define that identity, not have it determined and defined by others.
HAVING read Jim Taylor’s Letter in Saturday’s National I am confused. First of all, let me welcome him onboard the journey to independence. I can fully understand the views that he holds now as I share the same bleak outlook if we are outwith the European Union. However, I cannot understand why he voted No in the 2014 referendum at no point in his letter can I find his reasons for voting against independence. Jim is obviously at liberty to keep his reasons to himself. He states “one third of the electorate has hijacked the referendum based on abject lies and hyperbole”. Jim, why didn’t you see in 2014 the hijacking of the referendum by the mainstream media and the usual suspects Labour, Tory and LibDems? And the lie that was “The Vow”? You write that “I am ashamed that my government will happily drive us over the economic cliff edge”. Well I do not recognise them as “my government”. Unfortunately, I have to accept them until we can deliver a majority vote in the next referendum. My government is in Holyrood operating with one hand tied behind its back.
You go on to mention the egalitarian approach of Scotland stating our historical culture, the excellence in medicine,law, economics and industrial innovation these are just some areas that rightly, you praise highly. Why oh why did you and many others not see these same achievements in 2014?
Jim, I would like to think that we could persuade more voters like you over to independence through discussion. I cannot see Nicola adopting the Ian Smith tactics and declaring UDI.