Second Class Citizen

Yesterday, while I was on the treadmill at the gym, some older white guy got on the treadmill next to me. When he turned on his tv, it was on Fox News. As long as I was there (for another 5-10 minutes), he hadn’t changed it. I don’t know if it happened to just be on and he wasn’t paying attention or if this is the channel he meant to watch. He had also socialized with a few other people around us. One of the men he spoke to was watching CNN. The other man that said hi to him then proceeded to go hug an older African American woman. So I’m really not sure what the guy next to me believed.

I’ll tell you what I do know though. I felt awkward. I felt like if this guy actually watches Fox News (while it was talking about the Muslim Travel Ban), he had no reason to actually want me around. It made me feel severely conscious of my skin color.

I was born here and have lived here my whole life. I’ve barely even moved out of the city I’ve lived in, let alone the state. I’ve always been proud of my dual heritage of being South Asian Indian and American. I’ve always thought it was so much cooler to live in American with its progression while also having a cool background where I get to wear gorgeous clothes, have a huge movie and music industry, and still participate in my cultural traditions.

Right now, with the way this America is, I don’t feel that. I feel like I’ve been downgraded. I feel like I have to second guess who I am. I feel like I am going to have to protect my family from all the problems that have still yet to come. I have thought of where we would go if it got that bad where we couldn’t live the life we were used to living. Would we go back to India? Another westernized country? Do you know how hard it is to even think of leaving our home?

I’ve always been more on the optimistic side of how these things resolve. Right now, it is extremely difficult to be optimistic. I can’t imagine how people can’t care for other people. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be threatened by people of another skin color or religion. Maybe it’s because being Indian means a whole variety of skin colors and religions already. To me, growing up in American already meant a blend. I don’t know it any other way. I’ve never understood it any other way.

Now, based on the fact that I’m more tan than that guy next to me on the treadmill, I get to feel like less of a person.

I really hate that.

Why I Can’t Change My Facebook Profile Picture To Support France

A few days ago, unnecessary violence happened again in multiple countries in our world. After the explosions and shootouts in France, almost everyone on my news feed┬áchanged their profile picture to the colors of France’s flag in order to show their support for the country in this horrible time.

I haven’t. And I want to explain why.

It’s not that I don’t support France. Or any of the other causes that have happened where you could change your profile picture to show your support. And I want to expressly state that I am not judging anyone who does change it. I’m positive that it helps the people in these countries or situations to see so much support from people all over the world. I know I would feel better if it was me in that situation.

It’s not that it doesn’t affect me. I literally started crying when I was reading what happened. The people that got hurt were people who were just doing what any of us could have been doing that night. They were in restaurants, watching concerts, hanging out. We went out the night after and all I could think is what would I do to protect my daughter if something like that happened where we were. Because, as we have seen through so many of these violent tragedies, it could have.

It’s because I can’t do anything to stop it. Changing my profile picture won’t stop these people from hurting innocent people again.

When my friends started changing their pictures and colors to support France, I thought about it. That “try it” button is so easy to press. But I couldn’t press it. Because all I could think was “Is this all you can do to help?”. I felt guilty and sad because I don’t want that to be all I could have done to make their pain less, to make things better for those people. I want to be able to do more.

I hate the fact that I feel so helpless in these situations. I wish I could gather up all of these crazy people and keep them away from everyone and everything good. I honestly believe the majority of people and all of the religions in the world are good. I want to live in a world where I can raise my kid and not worry for her safety because the people around her would help protect her as opposed to want to hurt her. Unfortunately, we don’t always live in that world.

But we do live in a world where others do need our help. And, as I feel almost every time after some horrible tragedy happens, we need to figure out how we can help.

I keep trying to figure out what I can do. And until then, I can’t do something that doesn’t physically make things better for the people who have gone through it.

If you have ideas or suggestions, maybe it’s time for us to start trying to make a change. Please share your thoughts on how we can do this together.