When I was growing up we didn’t really have the internet, no seriously I am that old. It was hard to find other brown people that I connected with just because all I had was kids in my own area and people in my own family. So I pushed my heritage away, I refused to acknowledge myself as Pakistani at all for so many years, I accepted when white friends called me things like ‘tinted’ and laughed about it when in all honestly it was shit of them to do. Disconnecting myself from the Pakistani side of me was my coping method at not feeling so alone in my culture.
There is a Facebook group called Desi Punks, which I was added into a few years ago after writing a few pieces on being Pakistani in the punk scene and how punk actually helped me embrace my Pakistani side so much more. It’s a little weird to be writing about how much a Facebook group meant to me, especially one that I mostly lurked in, but being able to read posts by likeminded desi people, see things about families that I could relate to and just see stupid desi memes I could laugh at made me truly understand that I could be whoever I wanted to be, it didn’t conflict with the Pakistani side of me. It made me open up to my family so much more, connect with them about things and share my writing with them more. It was also a place to discuss issues in our own culture, feminism, racism, social and cultural awareness where people truly understood where you were coming from and where we could all grow.
As I’ve got older my Pakistani identity and my Muslim identity have been real grounding factors for me. Through serious bouts of depression, abuse, anxiety and just moving my whole life across an ocean my Muslim identity especially has kept me from just entirely crumbling apart. It sounds extreme but those are my two constants and as long as I have those I know I can get through anything. Even recently, with Muslim bans and a government so openly anti-Islam, I find that my faith holds through, I would never back down or lie about not being Muslim. DPX helped me to learn that I was okay with that.
There were times late last year where I would browse the DPX group when I got home from work and just read what other people were posting, there was comfort in knowing all of these fantastic people were out there but also it just provided inspiration to fight through and take part in causes, make art, do anything to combat negative views of Muslims and misunderstandings about South Asian Culture. Groups like DPX mean that people growing up in South Asian homes don’t feel so alone if they are pushing their cultural boundaries and that’s so important.
This is my thank you to DPX. I know I didn’t contribute enough, to be honest at times I was a little scared. Y’all are so cool and full of awesome ideas that I just felt inadequate a lot. But reading your posts and clicking on links to things you found online helped me really, truly find myself. I’m really sad this group is going to be closed, but I am so thankful for randomly being added all those years ago.
Maryam Hassan is a 32 year old Photographer, Montessori Teacher, Wearer of Yellow from London who transplanted herself to Chicago in 2015. She likes punk music, hash browns, animal facts and mangoes.
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