Are you English?

Asalaam Alaikum/Hi all
I was helping a client with a benefit appeal a few days ago and at the end of the appointment she turns rounds and says I have another question totally unrelated to this. So I was expecting to be asked about some other problem she may have.
The question was, ‘Are you English?’
In all honesty that question is beginning to do my head in. What does it matter if I am English, British, Pakistani, Indian, Polish or even an alien from outer space. I am helping you. Will it make a difference if I am not English? Will it make a difference that I am Muslim (yes the dreaded M word – had a rant about that on twitter the other day too!)
I know she did not mean anything by it but the question has recently begun to annoy me. I had initially spoken to her on the phone to make the appointment. So I think she was just surprised when she saw me as my spoken English is very good and her comment was you would never have been able to tell on the phone. 
Ummmm tell what??! Considering that I am actually British, tell what?? That I have brown skin?? That I wear traditional pakistani clothes to work? (Shalwar Kameez). Just because I am brown and do not wear western clothes does not mean I cannot speak English very well.
Having said that it is not the first time clients have commented on how good my spoken English is. But I wish they wouldn’t. They wouldn’t say it to one of my ‘white’ colleagues now would they? 
However, having said that, one of my ‘brown’ friends used to say I sounded posh on the phone!!
I also have been likened to a coconut. Have never known whether to be offended by that or not………
For those not familiar with the term: Coconut= Brown on the outside and white on the inside 


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • I'm sure she didn't mean to offend you nor have your friends.
    I think British people in general do get quite surprised when a foreigner is fluent in English, mainly because Brits only know their own language and think they don't "need" to learn other languages.. Plus the educational system here doesn't really make an effort of teaching them either.

  • Just don't let it bother you. Which u seem you are.

    Be glad that you are able to surprise people. In west everyone acquiring unique/weird styles just to be unique just to try to find solution to their inner confusion and lost soul.

    You are better than that identity crises, you are who you are and you know it.

  • Hey Foz, cheer up!

    Maybe what she meant to ask is "Which country do you come from?" seeing that you dressed differently, etc. If we are in her shoes maybe we will also be interested to know where the other person comes from, just as a matter of curiosity.

    Think good thoughts … it's part of our "imaan."

  • Hope you feel better.
    maybe she was so star-struck on how good you talk and how fluent your english are.. i admire you! i love how you compose your sentence and post.
    be happy! hugs!

  • I agree, to an extent your outfit may have confused her, but even so it doesn't make it less frustrating to be asked, as you rightly said what difference does it make where you are from?
    Next time maybe make a joke about it and say "I'm actually Scottish born and bred" . .

  • I got that type of comment sometimes back home in the states. For most people it was the clothes that threw people off,the hijab/abaya just seems to make people think "foreign" , even though I was born in the US, my parents, grand parents, and some of my great grand parents were too. We are of Irish/English descent, so when I get the "where are you from/what language do you speak/go back to your country" comments, I just have a private little laugh and ignore the people that intend to be rude, and politely answer the nicer people.

  • I think Foz this will never change unfortunately. We are the only ones able to change the way we look at this.
    Maybe try to keep it easy next time, even try a Joke.
    My friend is from Nigeria, she just got her Irish Citizenship after living here for more than 18 years and still people talk crazy to her.

    Hope you are not feeling too bad after it – Take care and stay who you are. xxx

  • Thanks for your comments everyone!! Am not upset, just think 'great that question again'.

    Our city is so multi cultural and alot cannot speak English very well so I guess I shouldn't be surprised when they ask. I am always polite and just explain I was born in the UK but my roots are in Pakistan.

    LOL Diane yep they probably are star struck!!! And Tinuke I think they would end up speechless if I said I was Scottish!!!

  • Ah I remember the term coconut :P.

    But I guess maybe the person was just a little more surprised more than anything. But you can never tell these days.