Identity: Call Me Miles
What ethnicity am I? Take a guess! Usually, I get a range of responses. “Greek? Hispanic? Egyptian? Spanish?” Or my personal favorite: “Dude, you just look white.”
To a casual observer, yes, I do look like your average white male. But I’m not—I’m half Indian. Nearly 40 years ago, my Bengali mother immigrated from Kolkata to Macon, Georgia to go to college. After graduating, she forged a long and successful career in business and sales taking her from Gainesville, Florida to Singapore. Eventually, she settled down with my Caucasian dad right here in Atlanta.
[Left] Miles Garrett: “Greek? Hispanic? Egyptian? Spanish?”
[Right] Miles is a sports reporter with Fox 5 Atlanta.
I always viewed my mom as a prime example of someone living “The American Dream.” Someone who came to this country with nothing and built her way to success. My mom never let any excuses for who she was hinder her from being who she wanted to be. She never let her gender or race become an issue. But she also never abandoned the background that she came from. She instilled in me pride for both my cultural backgrounds. Because of that, I never wanted to be known as “an Indian kid” or “a white kid”—just “Miles.”
But that doesn’t mean I’ve disowned any of my cultural roots. As a kid, I went to India multiple times and got to see the environment that my mom had grown up in. Seeing my mom in Kolkata where she was born and had spent her childhood, put things in perspective for me—to see that side of her that I wasn’t exposed to in the States.
Seeing different parts of the world, while also practicing all traditional Indian celebrations like Diwali, Holi, or just good-ole fashioned Indian parties with all my “aunties” and “uncles,” helped broaden my perspective of the world and my own identity.
So how did that translate into my daily life? Well as a kid, believe it or not, I looked slightly more ethnic. I think I lost my tan a bit as I got older (ha, ha!). I went to public and private schools in North Georgia with mostly white students. I would frequently bring my leftover Indian dinners for lunch at school and would always get funny looks from other kids. For some reason, this never bothered me. My response was never one of hiding who I was or trying to pretend to be more white. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I played along with it. I would fire back saying “Yeah, it does smell pretty funny, doesn’t it? But it actually tastes pretty good.” And for those who scoffed at it? Who cares? I would even have fun with it from time to time and make Indian jokes that came at my own expense. Not because I wasn’t proud of my heritage, but because I thought it was a fun way in which I could get my friends to understand who I was.
[Left] Sporting Indian attire.
I can’t tell you how many Shahrukh Khan movies I watched as a kid or Hindi music I listened to from time to time. I’m a sucker for chicken tikka masala with naan and raita. My dad also makes the best kathi rolls I’ve ever had. I have always identified as a “mixed race” individual. But I never let that define me. I’m way more than my race. My mom was judged by the product of her work and her actions. I want the same for me. I’ve taken the best of my Indian heritage and put it together with my day-to-day life as a person and as a professional. I am not defined by any race or standards of any culture.
I’m just Miles.
Miles, with his parents and sister.
Miles Garrett is an Atlanta Falcons producer & Georgia Politics MMJ with @Fox5Atlanta.
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