I’ve lived in denial of my British background. As a child I blamed the British for the treatment of Canada’s Natives. I blamed the English for the colonization of Scotland, Ireland, India, the Americas and more. I hate colonialization. I hated the English. It was another thing to hate about myself.
What does being English mean? What responsibilities come with that? How can I reconcile the bloody history of invasion? Is it ok to blame ignorance?
Can I look past those English of the past? Can I blame colonialization and invasion for the harm done under the British flag and not dislike the British who upheld it and benefited from it? Of course, colonialization, slavery, and invasion were not invented by the Brits. Arabs invaded Northern Africa and enslaved black people before Europeans did. Romans invaded and enslaved others before them. Greeks before them. Egyptians before that.
Blonde hair used to be (and still is in Israel) synonymous with prostitution and sexual availability, similar to how Black and Chicana women are too often viewed today. I can’t blame light skinned DNA for atrocities. But I can blame people choosing to remain ignorant about privilege they haven’t earned. Can I?
Now I will try and find something positive about being partly British.
My English great-grandmother loved to read. She was adventurous and left a more comfortable life to come out to the Canadian prairies. Her daughters all loved to learn and create beauty. On the other side, my English great-grandfather has a reputation for integrity. Stories of him revolve around helping his neighbours, even at personal sacrifice. His children all have a twinkly sense of humour and are always there if someone has a need.
My name is PrairieNymph, and I have some British ancestry. And frizzy hair.