Clerk: “What is your religion?”
Clerk: “What? I don’t have that here…Put ‘other’?”
Me: “No, no. Hindu is fine”
Clerk: “Awwww, Hindu? Right ok ok.”
It happens every time. Most practitioners of Shaktism I know (Shaktas) just say Hindu to begin with, but I (being me) am never happy to just take the easy route and avoid confusion and endless explanation. I must insist on saying”Shakta” every single time. Why? Because in TnT being Hindu is automatically associated with being a part of the SDMS, and while part of my life does indeed involve mainstream Hinduism, my everyday practice is Shaktism, my go-to is Shaktism, my thoughts centre there, my identity could not be constructed wholely wihout consideration of it.
The fact that official documents still require information as to one’s religious denomination is another issue entirely. What my religious beliefs and practices have to do with applying for a credit card or enrolling in school is beyond me.
But I digress, my issue today lies with being forcefully categorised into like groupings due to expedience or ignorance. Why is the question of your religious belief a close-ended one? Why can we not simply state our system of beliefs and have it written down as is, sans judgement? (Assuming of course that we as a society are not ready to just leave the question out.)
This penchant for grouping is directly related to our colonial history that worked to systematically segregate and oppress Caribbean people. If we intend to move forward as one people, as we claim so often to be, then simple things such as categorization on forms and applications need to be restricted or ended altogether. Categories such as race, age, sex, and religion have or should have no bearing on certain pursuits. We must eliminate questions of race and age completely, and leave questions of religion and sex/gender open ended.
Maybe some other time I will rant and rave about in between spaces, that can never truly be encapsulated by the category ‘mixed’ or ‘other’.