Watch Something Progressive

Have you watched a kids’ show lately? Maybe if you don’t have children, you haven’t seen one since you were a kid.

My kids watch Sesame Street on a daily basis. I remember watching it when I was growing up and liking it. Now? I seriously love it.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m an adult and more aware or that our country suddenly has a serious number of issues that have been brought to light. I’m finding that kids’ shows are more progressive that our actual world seems to be.

Before everything got kind of crappy, I would have been proud that Sesame Street showed episodes about the Indian culture. Now I’m relieved. They also have episodes about other cultures (such as Chinese New Year and a South African exchange student), bullying, autism, and just liking yourself as you are. It’s amazing. They are teaching my kids (and myself) so many positive things that sometimes, I wonder if we are actually in this time frame where people are acting as regressive as they are.

The other 2 shows that my kids have been watching lately are Doc McStuffins and PJ Masks. While it hasn’t come up in the few episodes I’ve watched, both shows star children of different backgrounds doing awesome things. I especially love that my little girl is watching Doc McStuffins because I love the idea that she has a role model that plays doctor and isn’t just into a bunch of princesses.

I feel like there are plenty of adults that need a good dose of some of these children’s shows. They have fantastic messages and teach you a lot about the world. You can stream Sesame Street on HBO, Doc Mcstuffins on Hulu, and PJ Masks on Netflix. Take some time out of your day and learn something new.

This Is My Country Too.

My skin is brown. If someone saw me and didn’t talk to me, it is very possible they would think that I wasn’t from America.

But fact of life: I am from America. I was born here, I was raised here. I have spent as much time in India as any other given person who has gone on vacation to any other country.

So when people start talking about sending us back to where we came from, I wonder exactly where they think someone like me should go. If they think they could send me back to India, it’d be the same as if they were sent to the country of their ancestry.

I don’t know the systems there. I know how to go on vacation there.

My home is here. Everything is here. If you want to send me back to where I was born, it literally would be about an hour away from where I’m sitting right now.

America is my country. For those of you who can’t seem to get that we are a country of many different ethnicities, get over it.

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.

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.

Just Because I’m American Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Indian

You would think the typical problem for someone first generation born in America would be racism against the fact that you are Indian even though you’re as American as the next person. I do know that this is the case for a lot of people throughout the country. It’s a sad fact and hopefully, we are getting to a point where people are enlightened enough that this isn’t an issue anymore.

My problem is a little different from the typical racism. I want to talk about the stereotypes I dealt with growing up. From other Indian people.

There was an Indian movie that came out in the 90s called Pardes. It basically told a story about a girl from India who was marrying a boy who grew up in the US. This boy was a horrible human being. He drank, he smoked, he had girlfriends prior to marriage. All of this was a direct result from the fact that he had grown up in America.

Seriously??

I’m not going to comment on the fact about whether all of these things are right or wrong. Instead I’m going to focus on the fact that all the “bad” stuff happened because a person wasn’t raised in India. And if you think this is just something that was portrayed in a movie, let me tell you that it actually happens.

When I was 19, I brought a guy around to our family parties. This was someone my parents had met and liked and they were fine with him coming with us. All of a sudden, as of that day, I was a bad influence on the other children within our group. Because I had a boyfriend. And this was the type of guy who the same people would have been trying to set me up with maybe 2-3 years down the line. Same nationality, same religion, good family, etc. I couldn’t understand it. I was a super nerd in school. I didn’t drink, I didn’t really have many boyfriends, I had been teaching dance to their children, I had good grades, and was attending college on a scholarship. Yet, all of that history wasn’t enough. I was now this American girl who was going to take everyone else’s children down the wrong path. I was lucky that my parents stood by me and stood up for me. Now, as I watch all of these people’s children get married to people that are not the same heritage as we are, I wonder if they realize how unfairly they judged me back then.

There was a friend I had whose mom did not like me because she felt threatened or something by the relationship I had with “her little boy”. We were just friends but for whatever reason, I wasn’t a good person. One day, she saw me wearing a sari. She asked me who tied the sari for me (it takes a lot of practice). I told her I did it myself and I’ve known how to do it for the last 7 years. My friend later told me that his own sister-in-law from India can’t tie her own sari. Why did this woman assume that I was so American just because I was born here that I didn’t know anything about my own culture?

Most of the people I have been friends with here can speak more languages than just English. Most of them can understand at least 3 languages. I have friends who have been born and raised here in America and friends who have been born in India and came over after spending their childhood there. My own husband came to this country at the age of 11. Yet, there’s not really a significant difference between us. We are both proud of our culture and we share it. We also adopt parts of the American culture that are more progressive and really have been creating a new culture in which future generations will be a part of.

So, Indian people who think that they are better than I am just because I was born here and not there, get over it. We are all the same. The sooner you start thinking that way, the more we will all get along.