A Conversation with Jana Ally on Indo-Caribbean Identity, Being Mixed Race, Growing Up Muslim and British, and Showcasing Culture in Fashion

Dec 22, 2020, 10:04 AM

Season 1, Episode 4.

Does being mixed race give you the freedom of shifting into multiple identities or restrict your ability to ever fully embody one culture?

Vinay sits down with Jana Ally to discuss what it means to be mixed race and how the difficulties of hybrid identity are affected by belonging to a culture that is already multifaceted. Jana opens up about struggling to figure out who she was growing up and never being accepted as fully South Asian or West Indian. She talks about how her Indo-Guyanese grandmother and local mosque played enormous roles in her evolving sense of self. Jana goes into the circumstances of her own family's migration during the Windrush era and the current state of the Indo-Caribbean community in the United Kingdom. She and Vinay delve into their individual hopes for the future of the community and the variety of labels they use to encompass their different upbringings and experiences. This brings into focus the use of potentially divisive words like "coolie" and how the Indo-Caribbean community is finally starting to enter mainstream discourse. Jana shares how she incorporates her heritage into her work as a fashion designer and the way she chooses to remember and celebrate our ancestors. She notes the influence of Hinduism on the representation of Indo-Caribbean culture in media and the feeling of being disconnected to India and Indian culture by virtue of being Muslim. They end the conversation on her family's support for her endeavors to learn more about where they come from and what she aspires to accomplish in her journey as a Guyanese woman negotiating identity.

Jana Ally is a fashion designer and graduate of the London College of Fashion. In addition to designing clothing and accessories, she hosts her own podcast SAE where she dives into a number of topics concerning diverse backgrounds and the uncomfortable discussions that result from them. SAE is available on iTunes, Spotify, and other platforms. You can reference Jana's work in Sukeban Magazine, Halu Halo, and Bruk Out Media's annual catalog. Follow her @jana and @thepodcastsae on Instagram, as well as @saewithjana on Twitter. 

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