Being a child of Indian immigrants in the US, I’ve encountered racism throughout most of my life, consequently because I grew up in a predominantly white area. In middle school I started receiving hateful and insulting comments about my race and culture.
On the outside I would laugh about it and play it off, but on the inside I was hurt and saddened by those insulting remarks and sometimes I wished I were never Indian. This didn’t help me embrace my race or culture, but only made me push it away further. I wanted to be something else, something normal. The more my classmates made me realize I was different, the more I wanted to be like them. That’s when I realized I couldn’t be involved in two cultures at once if I wanted to fit in. So I started to follow the trend of a contemporary American lifestyle and would try to reject my Indian traditions as much as possible.
For the most part this idea started to work. I started to mock Indian accents and the culture just to make my classmates laugh and start to accept me more. I would stop talking the language at home that I grew up speaking.
I wouldn’t eat the food that my mom made me for lunch instead I would throw it away and buy lunch from the cafeteria so people wouldn’t judge me. I would always complain about the things that people made fun of me for to my mom. Though these ideas worked to some extent, but I continued to feel inferior inside. Once I entered high school, I saw how diverse the student population was and that had a lasting impact on my transition back to my Indian culture. Being among students from diverse cultures and ethnicities and volunteering for nonprofit organizations to promote Indian culture had a lasting impact on my transition. I was being accepted by so many other people and was able to share my customs with others without any negative criticism. High school has taught me many things but one big message I can take away is that you shouldn’t be afraid of who you are.
This is something I live by now and if anyone has any prejudice remarks towards me, I need to make sure that I am confident with who I am. At this point of my life I am heart warmed to finally have the confidence to embrace my ethnicity.