I’ve been carrying the US Citizenship test materials in my car, planning on putting the CD in my stereo just as soon as I’m done listening to ‘Brick Lane.’ Raihana saw the booklet yesterday. And completely unexpectedly, she said:
“Mama, I don’t want the Pakistani to get squashed out of you – the way the Dursleys said they’d squash the magic out of Harry Potter. – Because I want to learn more things about Pakistan everyday!”
On the one hand, I am pleased that my daughter has a protective and nurturing impulse toward Pakistani culture. I’m also happy that she is consciously aware of the processes of cultural assimilation, stigma, and acculturation.
On the other hand, I’m concerned that she possibly suspects that I am “acting [too] white.” I’d also perhaps prefer that she were not aware of the expectation that I “squash” the Pakistani out – but this awareness is inevitable. She has shown an acute awareness that not everyone knows about Urdu, Eid, and dupattas, and at times is quite put out by this.
At other times, she parades a dupatta around so that everyone will know about Pakistan. At such times, I have conflicting impulses: I want to protect her from racist bigotry yet I want her to be proud and comfortable in her skin.