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Salma Vir

Being in this body, at the intersection of Black and Brown, has created both joy and a cacophonous outpouring of confusion. I grew up hovering between two worlds - neither of which quite knew what to do with me. It wasn’t until my adolescence that I had language to describe the space I occupy - mixed-race, bi-racial, mixed. But these terms were still reserved for a specific type of identity. To be Black American and South Asian was still outside the U.S. landscape of “racial categories” where Black and white dominate a biased (and white-washed) spectrum.

Much of my story on racial identity has been defined by proximity to whiteness and the adoption of anti-Black racism among non-Black POC. I can recall my father “warning” me that my mother’s Indian family don’t like us. “You are not Indian Salma. You’re Black.” But my mother is Indian, and my grandmother, her grandmother, and all the mothers who birthed and raised bloodlines on Punjabi soil. Is it possible for entire identities to skip entire generations?

My mother and her family arrived in Southampton, England, in 1965. “I didn’t want to go. They had to drag me on the plane,” she recalls. She never wanted to leave India. I guess that sentiment has passed down to me. How can you never want to leave a place you have yet to visit? So disjointed and displaced are the narratives of my bloodlines - one due to the Transatlantic slave trade, and the other a casualty of British colonialism.

Blindian people occupy a sacred and interesting place in the landscape of racialized identity. I am grateful to be situated there. My art and creative practice always celebrate this intersection, where joy and confusion harmoniously enmesh.”

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