This video resonates with my internal struggle, of the concept of my nationality, expressing patriotism, and how I identify the roots of my history.
The speaker, Ms Taiye Selasi, like many of us in this generation, was born in a different country to where her ancestors were born, and has moved or migrated overseas at some point, identifying as a part of whichever society they assimilated into.
The neat word ‘Multinational’, as ms Selasi points out, is better suited to conglomerates than human beings, She critiques the idea of being a national of any country in fact, as countries are concepts of institution. We are conditioned to think of countries as eternal and constant.
She points out that in her own lifetime, she has seen countries disappear – Czechoslovakia, countries have been reborn – Estonia , and Countries have failed – Somalia; so they are not as permanent as we think, and certainly not a good measure for where a person’s real history comes from.
She exemplifies that an answer like “I’m from Paris”, conjures the idea of the stereotypical Parisian and their cliches, it encourages others to categorize us and assume the myth & legend of Paris.
She suggests that an answer like “I am local to Melbourne & London” creates a more true to character description for those whom have lived abroad.
The key here is that we do not borrow any stereotype as our own representation of personal background, but we paint a more accurate impression by stitching the varied metropolitan cultures that we have been lucky enough to experience.
3R’s= Rituals, Relationship, Restrictions
Her proposition is to replace our assumptions by seeking to understand the 3 defining elements of a person’s culture in the context of their address/ homes.
Rituals are the celebrations, customs, the traditional recipes and so on.
Relationships are the people that shape your weekly emotional experience, best friends, family, face to face contact.
Restrictions, moves away from where are you now, to why are you not where you were? gives a clearer understanding of how the person reacts emotionally to the undesirable elements of their surroundings.
Its not about the specificity of the answer you wish to get, but moving the intention away from simplifying the introduction of a new person, to seeking a deeper understanding of a complex human experience.
What are we really seeking when we ask the question , and what do we hear when they answer with a country.
The usage of countries implies political power and hiding behind a national identity rather than reveal our real, personal multi-faceted identities.
It is when we understand each other’s vulnerabilities and challenges, that we come to recognize each other as human equals.
So where are you local？
FOLLOW-UP VIDEO: THE DANGER OF A SINGLE STORY