Over the weekend the Met police released a number of pictures of people holding placards which were deemed to be offensive.

Close to half a million people took to the streets for a pro-Palestine march in London with the attention predictably falling on the masses rather than the thugs who turned up at the Cenotaph attempting to defend the area from a non-existent enemy.

Among the tens of thousands who turned up was a woman who was holding up a banner describing Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman as ‘coconuts’.

It was surprising to see this being labelled as a ‘hate crime’. 

Soon enough social media was awash with people admitting to having called others ‘coconuts’ and also pleading to the Met Police arrest them. Whilst the police had a difficult job investigating what is and what is not deemed offensive - was it necessary for this sign to be given the attention it did?

The term has been used to describe Asians who are brown from the outside and white on the inside. A bounty, for obvious reasons, is a similar term.

For those growing up in the seventies and eighties the term was used for those who had a poor grasp of their language and their culture. If you could not speak your native language nor took any interest in the traditions of your parents, then you could well be a coconut.

I can admit to being called a coconut myself once or twice over the years. Yet, my Punjabi is fluent, and I would say I have a firm grasp of traditions - more so than many others.

This in turn led to be being called a ‘Freshie’ on numerous occasions for my love of all things Pakistani and my refusal to ditch the Shalwar Kameez (the traditional dress from the sub-continent).

‘Freshie’ for those not up to speed refers to a person who is ‘fresh off the boat’ – as in a newly arrived person who has yet to reap the full benefits of British culture. I joke not.

There was a real focus at the time to defend one’s culture. This came from the first generation of immigrants who concerned that we were losing our cultural upbringing to the expense of the ‘British way of life’.



Moreover, there was a real need to differentiate oneself as ‘true Asians’ than those who had lost their way through film, music and dress sense.

It was also a way of ridiculing someone for having seemingly abandoned their background. I have heard it being used to describe someone who was able to articulate themselves and speak English better than the next person. 

For many it was difficult to balance their British way of life with the expectations of their cultural upbringing.

As we moved into the noughties the term took on a different meaning.

A new generation took ownership of it and called out anyone who was not willing to defend their religion or was using their position to undermine minority communities.

In fact, the term became more synonymous with those who were ‘not religious’ enough and were attempting to accommodate the wishes of their ‘white masters’ at the cost of their own communities.

Here, lies the conundrum.

You could say some of those who deemed to use the term coconut would themselves be ‘coconuts’ in the truest sense of the term. 

There are a seemingly growing number who are unable to speak the language of their forefathers and will use the term ‘Freshie’ to describe those who are hang on to the traditions of the past. They are more British than the British one could say.

To term this particular case as a hate crime, is in many ways pandering to those who were looking to make enemies of ordinary people going on a peace march. It has more to do where the individual was, rather than what was actually being said.

It may also be incorrect to suggest that Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman are ‘coconuts’ in the truest sense of the term.  Many may not agree with their political viewpoints but coconuts? I am not so sure.

Political leaders do not owe anything to others just because of the colour of their skin nor should we expect them to. It is the harsh reality that many people should face.