I am a second-generation immigrant in America. These are not new ideas. They have been said before. But, these are just my opinions as an American citizen, an Indian-American, and a teenager. Any party labels are referring to the organization and leaders, not the individuals who identify as that. This is because the spectrum for either label is too large. Labels are social, political, and random, and cross-overs have (***). Click to open the post. 🙂
1. On my identity crisis
Liminal means “of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition” (Merriam-Webster). I use the term “second-generation immigrant” to refer to children of immigrant parents (both of my parents were born and raised in India, and came to America as adults).
Growing up in a conservative, southern suburb in an immigrant household, my identity has fluctuated as I transitioned through different communities. I grew up immersed in Indian culture, but I felt that I was not Indian enough. I never had more than 1 other classmate who was a person of color throughout my schooling. I began to have this feeling of liminality starting in elementary school. I, like many second-generation immigrants, felt that I could not belong in America; I saw nobody that looked like me or had similar backgrounds to mine in media or at school. Only in the small, local Indian community could I truly express my beliefs as an immigrant and as an Asian. I had no issues expressing my culture at school, but I would hear derogatory comments towards Asians and immigrants all the time. When I would cough to express discomfort, I would merely be told, “You don’t really count. You’re ____. You’re practically white.” My feeling of liminality grew. However, when I left the bubble of the suburb and went to boarding school, my voice, expression, and beliefs grew and solidified.
In terms of India, it is difficult to say, but I see myself as a tourist. I grew up on Rajinikanth, Thiruvalluvar, and S.P. Balasubrahmanyam (May His Soul Rest In Peace), but I haven’t lived the Indian experience. I speak the language, but I clearly have an American accent. I don’t feel like I can properly claim this country as my own in the same way that I can with America now. Even saying that, under the Trump Administration, I don’t know if America will welcome me in the future. [Look at On Rhetoric]
2. On racism and microaggressions
Microagressions are defined as “comments or actions that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group” (Merriam-Webster).
It was more the moments where I looked like an everyday American that I faced issues. There should be a handbook that people of color should read to their children: when to feel offended and when it’s gone too far. Once, in elementary school, a kid refused to acknowledge that I was Indian, not Black, and he told me to go and eat some watermelons to cool down as I got in my mom’s car. I felt stung, but I had no clue why. What did anything we said have to do with watermelons? In high school, a kid on the football team asked me whether I would mess with him if he touched my Jordans. I was wearing cheap Sketchers at the time. Thinking it was a joke, I went “haha, sure.” He turned to his friend and said, “See, I told you! Black people will kill you if you mess with their kicks. Now, pay up!” He and his friend walked away. I was standing with a friend who got angry, but I told her it’s fine. In actuality, I was too scared to say anything. I didn’t want to be ostracized or called overly sensitive. I still felt that this country and this community was not a place where people would take my side. I am brown. I am lower-middle-class. He was none of those things. I would lose. I would make a lot of jokes about being white and not brown, being Asian/ Indian, or being Hindu with the other people who were making jokes. Really, I was just deflecting.
So, I guess, the takeaway is this: To all the POCs, don’t think that the BLM movement is something that you don’t need to support. In America, you are brown whether you are Indian, African American, or African. In America, you are the “other” regardless of whether you are “one of the good ones”. And, speak up when you are ready to do so. I wouldn’t tell my past self to stand up to that football player or those friends. I wasn’t ready, and, honestly, my fears at the time weren’t misguided. Now, regardless of the time, place, or community, I will speak for issues that I am passionate about. But, that took time and growth. Why should members of oppressed groups have the burden of being activists? In some positions, such as when you have a large platform, you have a responsibility to bear regardless of whether you ask for it or not. This is because as that person with a large platform, you represent every individual of that group. That is sad and dangerous because a single narrative is both a burden and unfair, but it is reality. I know people who will read one story and judge the morality and character of the individuals of an entire continent based on that story. With more representation, that wouldn’t be the case, but we are still getting there. [see On Black Lives Matter]
3. On history
History for any country, unfortunately, is often skewed. America is not an exception. Historically, we have seen many members of oppressed groups overwritten and not acknowledged for their contributions. We have a president elected in 2016 who wants to teach youth to “love America with all of their heart and all of their souls. [… He wants teachers to stop spreading] hateful lies about this country”1 and stated that he plans to create a national commission to support “patriotic” education. [see On sensitivity and patriotism for more on Trump’s implications with the word “patriotism”] This is dangerous. Discussing the history of the United States should involve talking about the horrible events that happened as well, not writing over those events in order to portray the nation as a perfect entity. Children should know about slavery and know that it is a bad thing. In my old high school and lower education, my teachers taught me to think about history in context. They would explain slavery as considered good back then. It was dehumanizing. We didn’t attach emotion to learning about slaves. Once, we had to write an argument and vote in class about taking down Confederate statues. I wrote about how while history is important, it is important to acknowledge the implications behind what is being glorified. Confederate leaders and the Confederate flag stand for a message beyond just the South. They stand for slavery. Insisting that it does not is humiliating yourself and others. But, everyone raised their hands when we voted, including me. When I had seen the raised hands of everyone else, I ripped up my paper and quickly wrote a new assignment. I know, that was a bad move. I was being a coward. No excuses. Once, we went to a plantation. We learned about the slave bathrooms and the slave quarters. They were gross. But, everyone just stopped and stared, saying it was cool.
In the same sense, we should understand the founding fathers of America. We need to stop being Constitution fundamentalists. The Constitution was written during a time when America was “the home of the free” for white men. America should stop glorifying our past and making it out to be what it is not. Stop removing or desensitizing narratives, and start acknowledging the past in order to craft a better future for this America.
Links to check out:
4. On Black Lives Matter ***
It is not right that people who are of a certain race or who look a certain way have to fear the justice system that is put in place to protect them. I hear people say, “It’s only a few though.” Fear is not passed through multiple generations because of a ‘few’. The numerous videos depicting police brutality aren’t because a ‘few’ cops messed up one time. Think about how many occasions weren’t caught on camera. The “Black Lives Matter” movement calls for racial injustice to end, and intends to “end State-sanctioned violence, liberate Black people, and end white supremacy forever”1. The “Black Lives Matter” calls for repercussions in the case that a policeman harms, kills, or discriminates against people of color. It simply calls for equal value to be given to black lives. Now, big corporations, such as N.F.L., NASCAR, and Netflix, who previously did not comment on the movement, are showing signs of support. Change has been brought. The New York Times states, “In Minneapolis, the City Council pledged to dismantle its police department. In New York, lawmakers repealed a law that kept police disciplinary records secret. Cities and states across the country passed new laws banning chokeholds. Mississippi lawmakers voted to retire their state flag, which prominently includes a Confederate battle emblem.”2 It is important to remember what this movement is about: the people, the victims. Remember George Floyd, Daniel Prude, and Breonna Taylor.
I want to caution people to think about the implications of what they are saying when they dismiss the “Black Lives Matter” movement. You are dismissing the numerous victims of police brutality, the numerous victims of a system that was built against them. When you bring up the backgrounds of these victims in order to dismiss their deaths, remember that these people were not killed because of their actions; they were killed by forceWhen you bring up “black on black violence,” you are deflecting from the issue that the “Black Lives Matter” centralizes on.
5. On fat-shaming
6. On whether I’m a Bernie Bro and democratic socialism ***
Yes, I am a Bernie Bro. But, I do think that it is important to vote for the other candidates of the democratic party when Bernie Sanders does not get through the Democratic Primary because we need to work on issues like climate change and healthcare, and we will not get to work on those issues with any candidate of the Republican Party (this is from the talking points that I have seen so far, please correct me if I am wrong).
7. On the environment ***
8. On politics ***
9. On colorism in India
10. On representation in Never After
11. On fear and stereotyping
12. On the electoral college
13. On feminism **love you, Mom and Grandma <3
14. On the Democratic Party
15. On MAGA ***
16. On Modi ***
17. On cancel culture ***
18. On ethnobotany
19. On the phrase “Coming Out As A Conservative” **NOTE: I hate it.
20. On sound bytes ***
21. On fireworks *NOTE! THIS IS MERELY THE WAY THAT I FEEL ABOUT THEM!
First of all, I want to start by stating that I know this is just me. This isn’t a policy I want to pass.
I have gone to watch fireworks every year. Every year
22. On Plato’s Cave **credit to my Religions of Asia teacher for enlightening me
23. On being an ally and a friend
24. On the 2020 Election
25. On women in politics ***
26. On France and assimilation
27. On religion and progression from a Hindu perspective
28. On the voting age
29. On poverty and getting a job ***
30. On colorism and India
31. On expression and socioeconomic status
32. On free speech and choices ***
33. On climate change ***
34. On anti-maskers and shutdown ***
35. On voter disenfranchisement ***
36. On the impact of rhetoric ***
37. On Islamaphobia, Yemen, and the travel ban ***
38. On pronouns ***
I am a cis-gendered, heterosexual woman, but I am an ally of the LGBTQ+ community. I have heard the struggles of oppression and discrimination that my friends have faced, and I firmly believe that nobody should have to defend their sexual orientation or gender identity. Same-sex marriage was only legalized on June 26, 2015, with Obergefell v. Hodges decision. The United States is not moving forward enough. I have linked articles below on the gender spectrum, Title IX, and constitutional rights. I firmly believe in basic, human civility. If someone asks you to refer to them in a certain manner, that request does not come with the right to lecture, question, or invalidate them based on their identity.
A major talking point of transphobic individuals is that they fear for bathroom safety. The clause that proves this in the March 2016 legislation claims that men are predatory, so transgender women are a threat. The fallacy in this is that women, men, and non-binary individuals can all be predators. The LGBTQ+ community is not inherently violent, and instead is victim to constant violence and alienation.
39. On gun reform
40. On racism in close circles
Personally, for people who are family and close friends, I think it’s important to acknowledge when they have made remarks that are discriminatory and derogatory. If we are discussing racism, having discriminatory ideologies, using slurs, or continuing similar behavior can be dangerous, because there are deeper underlying issues there. You don’t have to turn your back on the person, but I do think it is important to have that conversation. With racism, it isn’t really just about having a different viewpoint. It is being hateful. People of color who are on the receiving ends of microaggressions and discrimination remember those actions for a long time. I have had those conversations. They were difficult, and sometimes they didn’t end well. But, they were necessary.
41. On sensitivity and patriotism
A major talking point of the Trump supporter base is that the “other” consists of unpatriotic, over-sensitive, communists who want violence. I am part of the “other” who do not support Trump. I believe that it is patriotic to express discontent towards the country that you are from: it comes from a place of wanting America to grow and be better. The notion of preserving a romanticized, past version of America is unpatriotic because it is complacent. It ignores the oppressed groups who were and continue to be forgotten in the Republican party’s description of America: white, straight, and Christian. I, an American citizen, refuse to allow myself and others to be forgotten in the country that I claim as my own. If there is one thing that I will give Trump it is this: he knows how to convincingly present lies. However, I refuse to be misled by cherry-picked data, refuse to be swayed by a president who claims that he has done more than anyone else for the Black community, refuse to be reduced by a president who believes that women are okay with being sexually harassed. Representative Ayanna Pressley stated that “Yes, it is possible to legislate justice and accountability, people over profits, joy over trauma, freedom over fear.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez states that “It does not matter how much I disagree or how much it incenses me or how much I feel that people are dehumanizing others, I will not do that myself. I will not allow people to change and create hatred in our hearts.” Regardless of how you feel about these people themselves, they are spreading messages of change and furthering the American people and society. Medicare for All and the Green New Deal are solutions for issues that many Americans care about, issues that you should care about regardless of whether you are rich or poor, and I believe that furthering America to be better should be the intention of all citizens of this country. It is because I am American and because I love America and what America stands for that I believe that I can and should criticize the administrations, policies, and history. That is my right, and that is my duty. Also, the notion of a country “belonging” to certain people is horrendous to me. America is a country of immigrants. New York City is supposed to be a refuge for immigrants seeking opportunity, war, or escape from religious persecution. [Also see “On climate change” and “On rhetoric” (for my argument against Trump’s contributions to the Black community)]
42. On arranged marriage
Note: This came up in one of my classes, so I just wanted to post this in case some people here have similar misconceptions. Feel free to leave a comment (not just with this post) if you have a question!
I view arranged marriages in a somewhat positive perspective. Most of the previous generations of women and men in my mom’s family have been in arranged marriages by choice, and they are happy in their choice. My family is from the Tamil Nadu and Kerala regions, in which arranged marriages are common. I think that arranged marriages are based off of a different idea of love and marriage than the concept of marriage that is understood by the Western world, and marriage is seen as the joining of two families, not just two individuals, to form a support network for the people being married. The idea behind arranged marriage, as it was taught to me (it might be different from other communities’ ideas of arranged marriages, because communities have different beliefs) is that the arranged marriage is a partnership based on respect, support, and equality. It can be difficult to find someone who shares those values in your immediate community. My aunt, who is an Indian-American, asked to be in an arranged marriage, and she has been happily married for 2 years. 74% of Indians agree with an arranged marriage, many people (especially in modern times) are given the choice of an arranged marriage, and it has worked with many Indians (as a counter-argument for Angela’s point of most arranges marriages not working). Of course, I don’t agree with the idea of forcing someone to get married. Arranged marriage is often a choice, and the concept of arranged marriage, just like the concept of a love marriage, is evolving over time. In modern times, arranged marriages often have periods where the two people see if they make a good fit first, with the parents simply matchmaking or finding someone that they think you will be compatible with, as they did in my aunt’s case. Relationships work because of open communication and respect. The affection grew, as it does in many arranged marriages. Without open communication and respect, no relationship, arranged or not, will be successful.
44. On Medicare for All- an analysis of the policies
43. On Obama
There were a few parts of this speech that stood out to me:1) “The document was ultimately unfinished, stained by the sin of slavery.”
I think that it was significant that he said this. Given President Obama’s unprecedented place in history, breaking barriers, it was a difficult but necessary stance to take.
2) “What would be needed were Americans of successive generations who were going to do their part, through protests and struggles on the streets and in the courts through a civil war and civil disobedience, taking a great risk in order to narrow the gap between the ideal and the reality of their time.”
Wow. I know that these words should be understood as common sense, but we are currently under an administration that on September 30, 2020, pressed federal charges against Portland protestors, an administration that refuses to acknowledge the problems of America in an attempt to further continue a misguided pipe-dream that there are no issues with America or with white supremacy. The difference in the attitudes, outlook, and overall demeanor is numbing. President Obama wants to “continue the march for a more just and more equal, more free, more caring, and more prosperous America.
3) “We must be in union. We may have different stories but we hold common hopes. […] Of many, we are truly one. […] The result of the election show how hungry the American people are for unity.”
It’s redundant to say this, I know. But, through this one line, we can see the difference between intentions to divide and intentions to unite.
4) His spectrum was white people claiming that his candidacy was affirmative action, and the other end being a man calling out America for things that have been done?
I don’t agree with the spectrum, because Reverand Write’s comments were not divisive and were instead merely truthful. I do believe that his message was an attempt to appeal to the white demographic who were offended by the remarks, but I don’t know if that excuses the dismissal of those claims, which I believe would be considered less extreme if said now. It is necessary to call out white racism and call out the issues that America faces, especially now during a time in which patriotism as defined by country leaders as believing the government and country’s actions are beyond criticism. The country needs acknowledgment of the role that it plays in the violence in the Middle East, because with great power and involvement comes great responsibility. President Obama does state that he is receiving condemnation for his association with the Reverand, so I think that is why he put the Reverand’s statements in that light.
5) Climate change is not racial.
Yes, I agree. There are issues, like masks and climate change, that should not be considered racial or political.
6) His grandmother. I think admitting this part of his experience was brave and vulnerable. I read Reverand Wright’s comments. Do I think they are bad? No, but maybe President Obama did, and that is his opinion to have. But, hearing racial stereotypes (discrimination towards your own race, nonetheless) from someone you love is a scarring experience, one that is extremely jarring and painful.
7) “Race is an issue that we cannot afford to ignore right now.”
It’s true. That’s it, that’s what I think. I am glad that he acknowledged systemic racism, education inequality, and the lack of economic opportunity that is linked to social issues.
8) “To condemn it without understanding its roots only serves to widen the chasm.”
Willful ignorance is an issue that I am seeing more frequently now, as people who aren’t understanding the race issue are hearing the echo of their own ideologies reflected back by those who think the same way that they do.
9) I liked his point of the dismissal of legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality. Would I equate the anger at the idea of white privilege with the anger that black people feel towards the unending discrimination that they face? No. I think of Dike, I think of Obinze, I think of the characters that we have read and connected with and I am simply unable to equate that anger.
10) I like that he informs each community of the steps that they should take.
11) I think that his words of distraction are especially applicable to the 2020 debate. Where was the talk of policy, legislation, and solving issues? Where was the discussion that would actually demonstrate to voters how the leaders of this nation would handle problems? Instead, we saw distractions and disappointing remarks.
43. On black people “acting like victims”
I am not black. I can’t accurately speak to the black experience. However, I don’t think that you can quantify how much someone is ‘allowed’ to ‘play the victim.’ I do think that we can empathize based on the stories that we have read in class and the stories that we see in the media. I think about the black men who have been wrongfully murdered in this country, I think about people who are on the receiving end of discrimination every day and I don’t think that there should be an option to limit how they feel about discrimination and racial oppression. There should be demands for the elimination of racial oppression. I think it is so important to acknowledge the fact that the problems of racial oppression are ongoing, and the feelings of fear and injustice that are seen within the black community are the result of being on the receiving end of discrimination. History and injustice are ongoing. The oppressor shouldn’t have the option of turning the other way from the consequences of their actions. Someone speaking out on their experience or the experience of their family members shouldn’t make the oppressor want to oppress someone further, because that is just inhumane. A victim of bullying should be able to say, “I went through this, and that sucked. It was the bully’s fault, not mine, and yet this experience scarred me.” Being vulnerable is okay, and that can come in the package with demanding a change, but racism isn’t exactly a cut-and-dry, get-over-yourself kind of issue.