No, We Are Not Getting Out of Our Country

There have been a few hate crimes recently  in the United States over the last few weeks regarding South Asian Indian Americans. We have been told to get out of our country to go back to wherever it is that these people think we are from.

Here’s the thing: we are in our country. There are a lot of us who were born and raised here or have immigrated here legally and are doing our part to support America. We are a part of the melting pot that is the United States.

Part of the problem is that we have been inactive in raising our voices against the hate that is occurring.

I wanted to share a video that talks about this a little bit further:

 

I’m Terrified Because I’m Brown

I haven’t written too much about politics because every type of article is already being written.

I did write a previous post about the tolerance for racism and hate that our president has.

I wanted to write this one based on how I’ve been feeling.

And to be honest, I’ve been scared. I’m an Asian Indian American who was born in Southern California and have lived here all my life. Not once in my 35 years on this planet have I been worried about how I was treated because of my ethnicity. I know that I’ve been lucky. I have family that has felt racism based on their skin color. I either have been oblivious or around so many different ethnicities that there hasn’t been room for that feeling of being judged.

I remember the election day and feeling like so much was riding on it. I could see all the way through it that racist people were given a pass for acting the way they wanted. I remember feeling terrified because I was worried about hate crimes occurring as soon as that election day was done.

And they did. It made me scared to leave my house. I have small kids and I don’t want to ever have to think that I’m putting their lives at risk. It’s sad to think that even with living in one of most the liberal and ethnically mixed areas in the country, I continue to worry about the type of people who don’t want those of us with a different skin color or religion here. I can’t even imagine what I would do if I didn’t live in an area like Southern California.

My family and I went out to dinner last week. I’m hyper aware of my surroundings in general but even more so than usual now. An older Caucasian man who was eating with his family kept looking over at my husband. I saw this and I couldn’t even imagine what he was thinking. I don’t believe that anything would have happened but the idea that someone didn’t want us to be there for no good reason did bother me. When the family finished, he got up and came over with his wife and told my husband that he was doing a great job handling our baby while trying to eat simultaneously and to enjoy the time because the kids grow up fast. It turns out that he was admiring our family.

It’s moments like these that remind me that as much as things have changed, nothing everything or everyone has. It reminds me that most people are still good people. It reminds me that there is still hope that this country will be a better place than it is right now.

But I’ll be honest. I’m terrified of how much we are going to have to deal with before we get to that place.

Politics

I’ve tried to avoid writing about politics because there is so much of it around us right now. Every other article is about politics and what is happening everywhere. I know that I usually need a break from it.

But I thought I’d dedicate one post about it.

Here is my basic opinion: I could have accepted anyone who eventually won the presidency regardless of their politics and where they stood on issues. But I can’t accept someone who won while inciting hate.

I can’t remember a time when a president won (and I’ve been able to vote in 6 elections as of today) where there were hate crimes during and after the campaign. I can’t ever remember being scared to leave the house during and after a campaign because people might be rude to me because I am Indian even though I was born in America.

I live in California which is maybe in the running for the most liberal state in the country. Yet, I still had these thoughts. I still worried about my kids and how they would be treated when we left the house.

This is what I am gauging the election results on. This is why I have trouble accepting the president. If he can’t make me feel safe in my own home, then why is he my leader?

There are plenty of issues with the new president. But, for me, the primary issue is that he encouraged people who harbored hate for others. He encouraged them to show their true colors and make those of us of a different ethnicity feel unwanted.

And that I can’t accept.

 

Doing Something Nice

The world is a little crazy right now. Okay, let’s be honest. A lot crazy.

It’s enough to give anyone anxiety.

Between that and trying to figure out how to live our own lives in this craziness, it’s easy to worry about yourself quite a bit and forget that we live in a collective world that it’s nice to connect to. So much so that we forget that sometimes the best way to stop worrying is to do something nice for someone else.

The world could use more kindness right now. And we all could use some relief from the stresses that have been popping up.

I can’t remember the last time I did something nice for someone else. I’ve been pretty immersed in my own life. I do know that whenever I have put someone else first, I feel better about the world that we live in today. There is nothing like kindness to help reconnect us. We are able to relate to someone else even if we don’t know them. I know that when I start having intense anxiety about the way people seem to treat each other or have opinions that I don’t agree with, the best solution for me is to go out into the world. As soon as you feel others being kind towards you, it is enough to reassure that most people are still grounded and are just trying to live their daily lives as you are.

Think about how it makes you feel when someone does something nice for you when you least expect it.

Now, with that thought in your head, go out there and do something kind for someone else.

A Tale of A Turban

I recently have taken a part in a movement called 1000 Speak For Compassion. It involves flooding the blogging community with stories of compassion. I think it’s important that we continue to see how compassion helps us rise past the struggles and keeps us moving in a positive direction.

This month’s theme is writing about Building From Bullying. I was lucky enough to not have to ever really deal with bullying but I have heard stories about what my husband went through as a child. I wanted to share one.

My husband moved to the US from Punjab in 1994. As a Sikh boy, he wore a turban. Now, we hear of stories today where children (and adults) who wear turbans are being bullied and harassed. And that’s today when we have so much access to information and knowledge to know that wearing a turban is just a part of their religion and culture. We know that wearing a turban shouldn’t have a negative connotation to it. And yet, as we see through social media and the news, it often still does.

So, in 1994, when we did not have this much access to information, of course, my husband was bullied for wearing a turban. He was the only Sikh male out of the 3 Indian people attending his school. The only reference that people had to Indian people was Apu from The Simpsons.

He would have to deal with name-calling with names such as “Towel Head” and “Diaper Head”. He would be asked if he rubbed his head, would a genie come out of it (he thought this point was pretty cool but was disappointed when it didn’t work)?

Kids would follow him around and talk to him in the “Apu” accent. They would tell him to go back where he came from. There was one kid in his Physical Education class that would sit behind him and constantly try to take off his turban from the bottom. This kid would steal his clothes from his gym locker and block him from going somewhere.

The teacher would notice and apologize but it didn’t always stop the harassment.

And it’s not that my husband wouldn’t want to defend himself. He thought about punching the kid that was bothering him. In the end, it wasn’t worth it to him because he reminded himself that his end goal was getting an education. His parents had worked really hard to move to America from India for him to get a good education and have success in life. Getting into a fight would only be a distraction.

It got so bad that when lunch periods happened, he decided he would rather go stand in a quiet, empty area of the school for 30 minutes rather than be in the cafeteria with the other kids. It turned out that this empty quiet area existed because there was a computer lab in that hallway. And even though my husband wasn’t a part of that particular class, the teacher let him come in during his lunch period and play around on the computers.

My husband used the opportunities and developed his interest in computers. Today, he is a software engineer with his own successful business.

He didn’t let the bullying become bigger than he was. He was also lucky that the bullying wasn’t to the point of being seriously physically and emotionally abused.

Eventually, the bullying did stop. Once the children realized that he was smart and they needed his help, they stopped being disrespectful based on his looks. Even the kid that would bother him in his physical education class came to him for help with a computer project.

The compassion that the computer teacher showed him by letting him just be a part of the computer lab helped drive him on his path to success. During those 30 minutes each day, he found something that he really loved to do. It kept his focus on the good and kept him moving towards his ultimate goal.

We can only hope that others who face bullies today know how to focus inward and find something that gives them confidence. We hope that they have the courage to move past it and have the support to thrive beyond the bullies. We hope that there is someone to show them compassion when they need it.

Why Do We Stop Trusting Doctors When It Comes To Vaccinating?

Today, I’m done. I keep reading arguments back and forth about vaccinations and I can’t handle it anymore. I can’t read another argument on why a parent should not vaccinate.

Honestly, I’m sad. I’m sad that in this day and age, we take something so wonderful for granted. I’m the first generation born in America. This means that my parents came from India. My spouse also was born and raised in India. We have gone back there quite a few times and you can see the devastation of people who can’t afford the vaccines of all of these preventable diseases. Some of the things that have been wiped out in America (or have been until recently) are still around in developing countries like India.

Why do some people take these medicines for granted? This American medical and scientific community has done so much for the people of this country and there are those that sit there and accuse them of conspiracies and putting our health at risk. This is the same medical community that has helped my grandfather to keep going at the current age of 93 while living with bladder cancer. This is the same scientific community that has found a drug that helps control my seizures on a daily basis.

I’m not saying don’t do research on something. When I was pregnant and figuring out what the risks were to continue my medication to my child and also the risks of breastfeeding her as well, I researched. Yes, I Googled. But then, I did what everyone should be doing. I went and asked my doctors. I consulted 3 different doctors: my neurologist, my obgyn, and my baby’s future pediatrician. Basically, 3 different people that had medical degrees. 2 of them had over 30 years of experience practicing medicine. I trusted them.

I’m in a few mommy groups on Facebook. And I continuously hear stories of so many babies born early or the mother having some problem during pregnancy or the baby spending some time in the NICU due to problems at birth. Guess who was there for all of that? Doctors. They are the ones who protected and cared for your child. They are the ones we literally trust with our lives when we give birth. We have to trust our doctor especially during labor when things can change in a second.

I needed a blood transfusion 2 days after I gave birth. My blood count dropped 2 days in a row even though I didn’t show it (I was completely asymptomatic). I didn’t like the idea of it. I didn’t want it. But I got it. All because my obgyn who knew my history of epilepsy thought it would be safer for me to get my blood count up. She didn’t want me to risk having a seizure with a newborn in the house. She didn’t want me to go home and have to come back to the hospital. And even though it wasn’t my first option of solutions, I did it because she was the one with a medical degree and I trusted her.

So after we go through all of this, why do we suddenly start questioning everything when vaccination time comes around? Why do people need delayed vaccination schedules or even worse, want to opt out of them completely? Why do people suddenly believe that this wonderful medical community that has literally helped them bring a life into this world in the safest way possible is now trying to harm their child?

I feel sorry for all of the children of those people who don’t believe in vaccinations. They are not only at risk of catching completely preventable diseases but there’s a chance that they will be socially outcasted for a decision they have no control over. I don’t want my child around someone who could risk her health. At least, once she’s vaccinated, I don’t have to worry as much. But how are these children who aren’t vaccinated going to travel? How are they going to be as safe as mine is when these diseases do make an appearance from another country? We are a global community in a world that is only becoming smaller.

I just wish these people who don’t believe in vaccinations knew how lucky they are. A country like India could do so much with the vaccination doses that are refused here. It’s pathetic that, with so much medicine at their fingertips, they take it all for granted.

I’m done. The anti-vaccination arguments are ridiculous. I just hope people gain some common sense and appreciate what they have before it’s too late.

We Indians Need To Learn How To Be More Compassionate

I had a hard time writing about this topic: compassion. I just wasn’t sure what I could write about. I wasn’t even sure if I knew anything about this topic at all. I even looked up what compassion means so I could figure out what to write about. The problem is I tend to be more empathetic and can see that more clearly. But Webster’s said that empathy was not the same as compassion.

So, 3 days after the deadline, I finally realized what I could write about.

I’m a South Asian Indian born and raised in America. I come from a background where we tend to judge each other quicker than we show compassion. If something doesn’t go right or something bad happens, it somehow had to be that person’s fault. They did something that caused that bad thing to happen. I had a friend once tell me that when she told her mother about her miscarriage, her mother’s first words to her were “What did you do?”.

We, as a community, also don’t speak about so much that is happening around us. Things that require compassion are being hidden and causing emotional havoc in our lives, things like broken engagements, broken marriages, emotional abuse, physical abuse, miscarriages, infertility, depression, suicidal thoughts.

It upsets me that these are things that so many of us have gone through but yet, we still worry about telling the person next to us in fear that they will judge us. We aren’t able to share what we have really been through.

I have personally been through a few of these things. When I had, I completely disappeared from our community’s social scene. The only time I felt I deserved to be back in it is when I had done something indisputably good to make up for a few of the “bad” things I had done or been through. I couldn’t hold my head up around them until I had finally achieved something that our community could be proud of and say “Yes, I know that woman”.

Why should I feel ashamed for my circumstances in life? Why should I feel like everyone is talking about me behind my back? Why should I have to worry about being judged for making decisions to make my life better?

So my call is to the South Asian Indian community today. Be compassionate. Stop letting others feel like they will be judged for going through hard times in life. Not a single one of us is better than another. We will be stronger as a community if we help each other instead of tearing each other down. Share what you personally have gone through because I can guarantee you that the person next to you has gone through something that’s been life changing and difficult as well.

I was inspired to write this by #1000Speak. Compassion is something that I believe in but don’t see often enough.

Check out the other stories of compassion.

The Vaccination Debate Seems To Be A First-World Problem

Yesterday, as I was scrolling through yet another debate about vaccination versus no vaccination in one of my mommy groups on Facebook, it hit me that I keep reading about this debate only in this particular group. I’m in 2 mommy groups on Facebook. One is Indian mommies only and one is a general group of mommies from all cultures.

Now while I usually turn to the general group of mommies for advice because we are all raising children within the same environment and are exposed to the same things, it seems as though this is the one place I can’t take seriously when it comes to this debate. The group with Indian mommies only seems to discuss how to deal with the vaccinations but not whether to take them or not.

I don’t know numbers and I don’t know if this is a general truth. This is only what I’ve observed. But it seems to me that not vaccinating your children is a first world problem.

Is it because most of us Indian people are either first generation in America or first generation born in America? Is it because we are still aware of how many advantages we have with medicine living here?

It seems as though people are taking vaccines for granted here. Until whatever disease become so widespread and affects so many unvaccinated people, it seems as though we are going to sit in the middle of this debate. I hate the idea that children have to go through these sicknesses that could be preventable in order to make the point that vaccines work.

We only have to visit India once to see illness that we don’t see in America anymore. So when we have the option, why would we allow our child to be exposed to that risk? When we know all it takes is one shot to protect our child, why wouldn’t we get it done?

Is it that people in America now have too much information at their fingertips? That our celebrity culture influences us more than it should? That we look for scandal and conspiracy wherever we go? Why can’t we just trust in the medical and scientific community?

Or is it that people questioning the vaccines because they are so easily available? Maybe people would fight for the vaccines more if it were a limited resource.

I don’t know the answers to why people don’t just get their kids vaccinated. All I do know is that a lot of us younger generation Indian parents seem to have more faith in medicine than a lot of our non-Indian counterparts.

Why Can’t You Vaccinate Your Child Again?

I can’t think of anything better to discuss considering we are in the middle of a measles outbreak. I’m not going to sit here and report every fact and figure that is already out there. I’m just going to state my opinion on the whole situation.

It sucks. It really does. There have been reported cases of the measles with 20 miles of where we live. Our kid is still below the age where she can be vaccinated for the measles. Which means she is at risk every time we go out somewhere because someone else didn’t vaccinate their child.

My husband and I aren’t overprotective. We took our 6 month old to India and just tried to keep her protected. She made it through the trip fine. We are the types who believe exposure will build up her immunity to a lot of things. When other outbreaks have happened, we speak with our pediatrician and see what the reality is of the situation.

The reality of this situation is that our child does go to locations and events that involve other young children who can’t be vaccinated yet. And none of us has any way of knowing if any of these children has been exposed to someone who has the measles.

Here’s my question. Why? Obviously, the idea that measles vaccination causes other diseases or developmental problems has already been proven wrong. Even if it did cause problems, the chances are so low that is it really worth taking the risk of having your child catch something that they could have been protected against?

I asked the following question of one of my mommy groups. If the risk of having problems with the vaccine is lower than the chances of your child being in a car accident (especially in Southern California), then why would you continuously put your child in a car but not get the vaccine? It doesn’t make sense to me.

We all want what’s best for our child. We want to protect them against as much as we can. I hate when she cries for anything. So why are we ignoring something that has obviously worked over so much time?

I’m so frustrated that I have to be careful of where I can take my baby to right now because a few people decided to ignore years of progress. And this question will come up again and again when we decide to put her in school and activities.

I come from a family where half of the people are doctors. My family comes from a country that would love to have all the vaccinations the US has for their children. Why do these parents take these vaccines for granted?

I don’t know what the solution to easily resolved problem is. How can you convince people who refuse to vaccinate their kids? I see the posts in my mommy groups and the debate goes on and on and on. The only thing I can think is that if it’s just one simple shot, why doesn’t everyone do it? If it’s shown to work, why is there so much of a fight? Why do we all run to believe people who aren’t qualified to give their opinions?

How can I protect my child against other people’s decisions?

A Cultural Norm

For those of you who have grown up in America, we are taught to do everything ourselves. Our goal in life is to be independent. It actually can become a problem because we don’t tend to ask for help even when we do need it.

Something else I encountered on our trip to India which is very different than what we have here is the idea of having servants. Almost everyone has them. Someone cooks, someone cleans, someone helps you with the kids. It’s very much the cultural norm.

Every day I’d sit for breakfast and someone would bring me food and coffee just by my request. It was very weird. I’m sure, on some level, it would get easy to get used to having so much help but on my 2 week trip, it wasn’t. There was a day when we returned from a shopping trip and we had a lot of bags with us. I did what I’d normally do at home which was grab all the bags I could and take them to my room myself. I did notice that a few people tried to help me but it just didn’t feel right having someone else carry my stuff.

It’s one of those things that is just a part of the culture in India. I can see both the good and the bad sides of having servants. On one side, there is a class system in place and there are people working for you. On the other side, these are people who are getting a good job, food, and a roof over their head. They have the opportunity to make money for themselves and their families that they might not otherwise have.

I don’t know if there is a solution or a chance to change this or if it’s something that even should be changed. I just wanted to mention it because it was definitely something out of my comfort zone while we were traveling.