White Privilege Checklist.
By Kelzey Greening
I have never once considered the answer to a common question I am asked. Why were you born in Cyprus? My answer has always been because my Dad is in the army, and Britain have a military base there.
It’s not something I have ever given any more thought to, because it does not affect my identity in the way that I can only imagine being born in Kenya does for a black man or being born in
Bangladesh does for an Asian man, for example.
Being born in Cyprus for me is merely the punch line to a joke when my friends ask me why I tan so well, or why I don’t have a ‘particular accent’, which of course neither have any correlation to being born in Cyprus.
It was not until recently when I started a new chapter in a book I have been reading that I thought about WHY I was born in Cyprus. ‘The Good Immigrant’ by Nikesh Shukla shares essays from multiple immigrant artists. I read chapters about race, religion and cultural appropriation. Then I started a new chapter, which was written by Chimene Suleyman, discussing her Turkish heritage. I never expected to see the words Cyprus/Cypriot in a book regarding immigrant struggles. Ignorant.
The book touched on the tension between Turkish and Greek communities in Cyprus. Which made me question my birth in Akrotiri, because of a war before myself or my father were born. I am no historian, but I have tried to understand this war.
After some googling I called my Grandad to try figure out what came first: the chicken (tension between The Turkish and The Greek) or the egg (British Colonization). This was a task and a half. What I have learnt is this:
Cyprus was gifted to Britain by The Ottoman Sultan after they assisted in fighting Russia in 1978. This was a great gift as Cyprus to this day gives Britain a ‘foot in the ocean’ to launch from if we were to go to war. My Grandad told me that not only was he posted to Cyprus during his time in the army, but so was my Great Grandad. Grandad told me about how my Great Grandad fought in Cyprus to keep the ‘British’ land. I asked my Grandad why we ever thought it was ours to own, and why The British didn’t say, yep, fair one, we’re not Greek nor Turkish. See ya later. My Grandad and I quickly agreed this was due to: The White Man gets what The White man wants.
Grandad then went on to explain that during his time, soldiers’ roles consisted of manning the border and keeping the peace between The Greek and Turkish sides of Cyprus. I can only relate this to my dad going to Afghanistan to protect the Afghani people from Taliban. But going into that and further political agendas and if this was truly the case would be a whole new blog.
This blog is in no way an exploration into British Colony and who did what to who. However, it's forced me to think of Cyprus in any other way than the answer to when a guy asks me where I’m from on a night out, and all my friends sigh because I have to explain that I was born in Cyprus, but I’m English, but my parents live in Wales and my sister was born in Hong Kong (blah blah blah, poor guy only wanted to buy me a vodka redbull).
I was born in Cyprus by chance, just like my sister being born in Hong Kong was by chance, my brother was born in Yorkshire for f*ck sake.
Being born in Cyprus has no relevance to my culture,upbringing or heritage. I am a white privileged female who happens to be born on an Island which has seen war, what this blog is about is me admitting that I have only queried my place of birth today, aged 24 and recognising that it is white privilege. Because being born in Cyprus will never cause me prejudice, harm or discrimination, however it might if I was Turkish or Greek. That is white privilege. When someone says to me, what’s a fun fact about you? Saying I born in Cyprus. That’s white privilege. When someone asks me if my name is Kelzey not Kelsey because I was born in Cyprus. No, my mum thought Kelsey was chavy (don’t ask). That’s white privilege. White men and women absolutely have a responsibility to the injustices of the world that are on our TV’s, radios and social media accounts every day. Why is it black children must understand racism from age 5 and yet white people only ask questions when they read a trendy book they ordered on Amazon Prime? That’s white privilege.