- Marya Kazmi
This Brown Girl's Story
Updated: Feb 4, 2021
“You can’t leave footprints that last if you are always walking on tiptoes.”
My journey of life has been one that although is not uncommon, is very misunderstood or missing from the stories we hear about. I am a brown girl. That means as well as having skin that is the color of honey, I also navigate two worlds and lives. It all began with my parents immigrating to America in 1970 with the hopes to return to Bangladesh and raise their family in my mother’s home country. However, those plans were thwarted when a civil war broke out between East and West Pakistan better known now as Pakistan and Bangladesh. My parents’ families and countries were at war and returning to that chaos was not possible. So, they rooted themselves in America and built their family with four American-born children.
Being the third in the pack, I was destined to be an independent thinker. From the start I moved to my own beat and rhythm in life. Questioning everything and everyone including my parents. So my navigation of two worlds began quickly.
World one, my home culture of a Muslim South Asian family with liberal views of the world but strict religious expectations and a background message that being “too American” was bad. World number two, everything outside our home that was “American” like, school, friendships and what it meant to have a social life. I had one foot in each of my lives but tended to lean more into the latter because it felt more comfortable. But that lean, into being a more American as a brown girl came at cost to the first world I was born into and had obligations towards.
Even now as a forty-two year old mother of four children three of whom are teens, I still have this pull in two directions and guilt. The balance of life has gotten more complex in adulthood. I married a Vietnamese- White Catholic and then separated from him seventeen years later. I am a single mother of four children that go from teen to a toddler. I’ve started to explore dating and in my attempt of this 20 years later, I am flailing like a fish out of water. All this while still being a supportive, responsible brown girl in a collective close- knit family. Holding all these complexities, identities and worlds in place without breaking has been no small feat.
This brings me to why I am writing a blog. I have lived these two worlds for over four decades, and still I don’t quite know where I truly belong and what needs to be sacrificed to find my own sense of peace. So what better way to do some self-exploration than to share the process with the world. Really, this is a space where I get to shake it up, share my journey and possibly have some other brown girls or just folks who didn’t get it before, see the brown girl life from a new vantage point.
I am a brown girl interrupting the status quo of whom I am supposed to be, to share and flush out who I actually am in its entirety of flaws and missteps.
One of my inspirations to start this process was a TED talk I heard by Luvve Ajayi. She shared a quote that catapulted me to sit down and begin this blog.
“In a world that wants you to whisper, yell.”
Unapologetically I will be yelling and screaming about the good, the bad and the ugly that is this Brown Girl Interrupting.