Using the term ‘coconuts’ to describe anyone who might not ‘aspire’ to our own politics is getting tiresome now. And here’s why.

The term coconut is used as a derogatory way to describe those who are deemed to have turned their back on their own culture and religion or to put it bluntly brown on the outside but white on the inside. But how can we be so sure that we are not all in fact coconuts? I say we are.

Do we think because we fight the ‘right’ battle or that we back the ‘right’ cause that makes us less of a coconut? No it doesn’t.

The term was used in the eighties and nineties to describe those who knew little of their culture. It was not as if they had turned their back on their own culture; it was quite simply a way of describing those who spoke little of their own language. It had nothing to do with ideals and religion.

It described those who, through no fault of their own, led a more ‘British’ way of life. It was the music, the films, their interests that led to one person being labelled a coconut. Their parents allowed them to make their own choices and they led a path that saw them learn little about the culture of their native lands.

Some were deemed coconuts for marrying outside their culture, whilst others for wearing western clothes. In 2020 no one really bats an eyelid at this.

The fact is, we are all coconuts now. I know many who use this term and yet know little of their own culture and even look down upon those ‘backward’ types. They rarely visit the lands of their fathers, and their own children speak only English and not the languages of their grandparents.

To me, their children in another age would best be described as coconuts, yet the very same people will band the term about as if to help themselves feel as if they are ‘more Asian’, ‘more Muslim’, ‘more Sikh,’ or ‘more Hindu’.

Many of us don’t want to admit this startling fact because it embarrasses us.

The other point is that some of us are fast becoming a generation of hypocrites by wanting to aspire to a ‘white’ ideal about where we live, where we send our kids to school and where we go on holiday. I constantly hear comments about people suggesting I visit a place because ‘there are less Asians there.’ When we earn enough, we move out to the suburbs and then wish other Asians won’t follow us and ‘ruin our area.’ Then we are quite comfortable in calling out others for being coconuts.

Let’s be open about this. Terms like coconut aim to make us feel as if we still hold onto our culture and religion more than other people. It helps us feel more in tune with others ‘like us.’ We think we are better than these people because we decided it was not culture that was important to us but religion. Coconuts are now those who do not understand the ideals of religion as we see it or are not interested in their religion as much as we are. I think that is grossly unfair.

In recent years politicians Priti Patel, Sajid Javid, broadcaster Maajid Nawaz, Sara Khan of Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE), have been among those who have been labelled coconuts. Others who may simply be saying something contrary to our opinions are quickly grouped into this accusation without a second thought. Now, I may not agree with their viewpoints but to say they are coconuts is woefully wrong.

The term is being used to describe anyone who does not prescribe to ‘our’ way of thinking.

Coconuts has been reinvented by a generation who could themselves be described that way when the term was first made infamous forty years ago. It is a term that has had its day and if we really want to move on and have a genuine debate about race, culture and religion in this country then it time we stop using it to describe any other Asian we don’t agree with.