The insufferable whiner Ruqaya Izzidien looks rather pale for someone who complains about “the melanin-deprived Durham University” and insists: “I did everything they tell young brown kids to do,” as if non-brown kids never had to be a prefect, or captain teams, or wear ribbons, or attain high grades, or participate in after school activities. Poor Izzidien had a positively miserable childhood in Wales, with boorish, insensitive non-Muslim Britons constantly asking her questions that positively wounded her. If only she had been born to an easier existence, such as being a Christian in Pakistan or Nigeria.
In any case, what she says about integration is already coming true in Britain, and will accelerate.
“Immigrants don’t need to integrate, you do,” by Ruqaya Izzidien, Al Araby, August , 2018:
There’s no such thing as integration for immigrants and their descendants.
Growing up in rural Britain – Wales, to be precise – I was the poster child for immigration.
My teachers liked me, I was a prefect, I captained my team in the Eisteddfod – an annual traditional Welsh competition. I won ribbons on Sports Day, attained high grades and did after school activities. I did everything they tell young brown kids to do.
It never occurred to me that I was the only one who considered myself just like everyone else.
But once I was far enough away, several years later, somewhere between Cairo and Gaza, after a Facebook exchange with an old classmate who told me magnanimously that he knows I’m a good person so I don’t need to apologise for whatever it was that some Muslim had done, a file opened in the back of my mind.
For months it began to fill with memories I’d shrugged off, pooh-poohed or not given a second thought to at the time.
Like when I was 19, lying on trolley in a hotel conference room in central Durham. A needle in my arm, and a bag of my O+ swishing around somewhere near my hip.
I knew that donating blood made me act oddly, that the gore of it made me giggle uncontrollably. I tried to redirect my need to make a noise, by babbling, rolling my tongue ridiculously and popping my cheeks. It helped.
The nurse walked up to me to check on my sack of blood. I stole a look at it and it only made me babble more.
“You speaking in your language, are you?”
Because a nervous brown teenager prattling at the grossness of giving blood must – of course – be speaking her native language.
My language is English, dammit.
It would be years before I realized the true extent of the education I received, both from the melanin-deprived Durham University and from my small comprehensive school in Wales. I was good at memorisation so I did well in exams, regurgitating whatever I’d put on my spider diagrams in the weeks before. But none of it has served me as well as the education I got from peers and teachers.
When I was 12, one teacher plopped a new student from Jordan in front of me and instructed me to translate. It was the first time he’d ever talked to me. I did not speak much Arabic (I later learned it at university and living in Cairo).
Later that year, when we were sorted into sets by ability – I was put in the lower set for classes where I landed the highest marks. I had to bring a parent in to request to be pushed up a set in four subjects. Five years later I left school with top A-Level grades.
There is no question that my hijab, my skin colour and my innate foreignness – despite being born and raised in the UK – is what got me put in lower sets.
And then there was the fetishisation. “Tell us what your hair looks like,” my Spanish teacher instructed. “I thought it would be long and beautiful.”
“Are you poor?” Asked the Geography teacher in front of the whole class, “large families are usually poor.”
“Where are you from?” Said my classmates of five years. “Say something in your language.”
My language is English, dammit….
The term integration is bandied about like it’s a magic elixir: If the immigrants and their children would just speak English and go to the school fete and the village show, then xenophobia would disappear.
But integration – an already problematic concept that should be abandoned in favour of acceptance – is a myth, at least as we know it.
Instead of telling the foreigners to assimilate, Britain, you should take a long hard look at yourself. Because participation does not bring minorities acceptance.
In order to achieve harmony in Britain’s multicultural landscape, it’s not immigrants who need to integrate, it’s the white majority. Until the majority stops treating people of colour like a curiosity for their entertainment, the country will be stuck in an existential crisis in which British children grow up as outsiders….