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Both Not Half

Jassa Ahluwalia

16 May 2024 All day

‘This guy has better Punjabi than both of us and he’s only half Punjabi.’ Only. Half. I stared at those words. The intent behind the comment was in no way malicious, but it hurt. I felt diminished. I felt like I was being robbed of something essential to me. And as I stared at my screen, realisation dawned. ‘#bothnothalf’ I replied.

For over twenty-five years, actor Jassa Ahluwalia described himself as ‘half Indian, half English’. But he looks white. His fluent Punjabi always prompted bewilderment, medical staff questioned the legitimacy of his name, and the world of casting taught him he wasn’t ‘the right kind of mixed-race’.

Feeling caught between two worlds, it wasn’t long before Jassa embarked on a call to action: We need to change how we think and talk about mixed identity.

Both Not Half is a rallying cry for a new and inclusive future. It’s a journey of self-discovery which unearths the historical roots of modern mixed identity as we know it, braving to deconstruct the binaries we have inherited and the narratives we passively accept. Part-memoir, part-manifesto: this is a campaign for belonging in a divided world.

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