Miss Indian American

Okay, so I’ll get right to the point. Really America? Not the country itself, but the self-proclaimed “forward” thinking people who so fearlessly used twitter and other social media outlets to lash out anonymously against another child of this country. America is NOT for white people only. America is for IMMIGRANTS. America is a country built FOR immigrants BY immigrants. This country was not built with one race, ethnicity, or gender in mind; it was built as a refuge or all those who were unable to be themselves elsewhere.

Don’t believe me? Read the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution which gives FULL U.S. citizenship and thus rights to a person born on U.S. soil or naturalized by the federal government. Yes, that means if you were born here in this country or were naturalized by the government, you too are an AMERICAN. The Constitution is not race specific, it is not ethnicity specific, and it is not gender specific.  All can revel in the sheer brilliance and Utopian ideology of our forefathers. 

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I am specifically talking about the historical and monumental decision to crown the very first Indian-American Miss America, Nina Davuluri. I do understand that it was not necessarily the majority of the populous of that indulged in racist, demeaning, and disgusting behavior. However, it’s logical to assume younger generations use social media outlets. It’s also safe to assume those young people grew up in progressive times and boast progressive ideals. Ergo, it’s UNACCEPTABLE for the country’s young people to be filled with such hatred and use anonymous social media outlets to spew hate.

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I am Indian. I am also American. I don’t believe that being Indian makes me less of an American or vice versa. For me a huge part of the beauty of Ms. Davuluri’s victory is that America has progressed to the point where diversity can be openly celebrated. I also personally believe that Ms. Kansas was highly qualified and should have been a top contender. If she would have won…I would have been really happy. So would have social media outlets. There would be a fraction of the backlash, if even that. By focusing on Nina Davuluri’s SKIN COLOR, people tried to take away from her victory and make it a race issue. Miss America is about celebrating diversity and the achievement of women in this country.

Maybe I’m just using social media to express myself as those people did…The difference is between using hate or love as a platform. I may have even offended some people. If so, I apologize. It was totally unintentional. Please leave comments as I’d love to have some real dialogue about this topic. If I see hate I will delete it and report you, so please keep the hate outta here!

Not Wanted: Selective Diversity

Imagine this: You’re strolling down the sea wall with the love of your life, a beautiful blue pastel sky as  your backdrop. The fluttering breeze plays with your hair while above, seagulls chase after one another in a daring game of tag. Your nostrils are seduced by the fresh salty smell of the ocean mixed with the natural aromas of sun soaked strangers. You duck into a little restaurant right off the pier unable to imagine how your day could get any more better or romantic for that matter. As you walk in, an angry set of eyes bore into you. You try to shake off the feeling of hate as you follow the waiter to the cozy charming booth in the corner with the flickering candle flame. A second set of venomous eyes glare at you whilst you snuggle up next to your loved one. Perturbed, you seek comfort in the containment of your little booth. A lovely evening ensues. As you walk back out of the restaurant, you hear the hisses and murmurs of hate rearing their ugly heads once again. Annoyed and hurt, you demand the source make itself known. You want answers. Why would a perfect stranger try to ruin your night? What would possess them to hate you when you don’t even know them? Slowly, the answer begins to form in your mind. No, that can’t be it…surely in the 21st century people are over prejudices. Surely, in a country with an African American President, we can learn to live as one people united. Frantically searching for a logical explanation, you are forced to acknowledge that the reason for their malevolence is solely because of the color of the hand you are holding.

This scenario, unfortunately, is still commonplace in a time period that celebrates diversity and unity.

In the Indian culture, interracial dating is taboo. To date outside of your race is considered one of the gravest offenses you can commit. Families like to keep the bloodlines pure. What is the tragic flaw in that mentality you ask? In 16th-17th century Colonial India, about 1 in 3 European men had Indian wives. Not only that, but Indian Nawabs were encouraged to find spouses from the beautiful foreign European women that flocked the country. Interracial marriages were favored highly because they illustrated the “European-ness” of the native Indians. Why then is interracial dating and marriage not accepted today? Why do people who partake in interracial relationships have to be scrutinized, criticized, and ostracized from their communities?

In the movie “Bend it Like Beckham”, the main character Jessminder ‘Jess’ Kaur (played by Parminder Nagra) falls for her football coach Joe (played by Jonathon Rhys-Meyers). Jess comes from a strong Sikh Punjabi family and as such, her attraction to Joe is forbidden in every sense of the word. Already lying to her parents about her football escapades, Jess fears that telling her parents about Joe would only increase their fears about the cultural gap that plagues their family. Jess isn’t worried that her parents won’t like Joe because he is of bad character or is a bad influence on her, Jess fears her parents will take it badly because she is Sikh Punjabi and Joe is English. By the end of the film though, Jess’ parents come to accept her passion for football, and in turn, Jess realizes she can eventually tell her parents about Joe without any fear of backlash. That happy ending needs to be a frequent ending in real life South Asian families; acceptance is key, and not just in our much loved Bollywood movies. Sidenote: Parminder Nagra herself is the proud product of an interracial marriage with her husband James Stenson. Kudos to you for standing up against the system!

In 1958, a couple by the name of Mildred and Richard Loving married in Virginia. Because she was a black woman and he was a white man, their union was illegal and they were arrested. Rather than face charges and jail time, the two left Virgina. They wrote to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and their case was heard on June 12, 1967 by the Supreme Court. That day deemed anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, and therefore illegal. Today, many celebrity couples like Seal & Heidi Klum, and Robin Thicke & Paula Patton, and even on screen couples like Shawn & Angela have the opportunity to explore love without with the limitations of race. Now, if we could only apply that acceptance to the unwashed masses we’d be well on our way to a more loving world.

We are the mindless minions of the media, we wear what celebrities wear, we say what politicians say, we think how CNN and FOX News want us to, and we listen to whatever the radio tells us to. So why then is it not okay for interracial dating and marriage to occur in real life, when it is what we promote in our movies, television, politics, etc.? We boast about our tolerance and our difference from the past, but history tends to repeat itself and we are here in 2010 just as ignorant and narrow-minded as ever.

Learn to accept one another for who they are on the inside, not what they look like. Remove petty prejudices from your mind and heart for they will poison your soul otherwise.