Jindal stresses how he avoided telling his parents of his new faith and how disappointed they were when they found out. He said he read the Bible by flashlight to prevent being discovered by his folks, and compared his clandestine study to the early Christians “hiding from government persecution.” Jindal’s process of finding his true religion also involved participating in an exorcism of a college girlfriend.
There is a lot of Jindal that I don’t agree with. But this I got to give the man.
It’s better to be thrown in front of lions or be crucified upside down than to have to go through the ordeal of being a second-generation Indian immigrant growing up in US in the 80s. How do I know? I was one (for a while).
My parents were kind. They didn’t, for instance, make me dress like Anil Kapoor in “Suit boot main aaya kanhaiyya” as Jindal’s parents did. They also left for India after some time, which is why I perhaps never exorcised my college girl-friend. Of course for desi parents, there is nothing even remotely distressing about conducting an exorcism on your girl-friend, it’s not like you had sex with her.
Most immigrants, or to use the politically incorrect term FOBs, settle down in middle-class neighborhoods (this was particularly true in the 70s and 80s), and can only afford to send their children to county-assigned public schools. Here the stars are the football quarterbacks, and the cheerleaders, and the Jindals of the world, slight of frame and not the most natural of athletes, find themselves ignored by the “cool kids” or worse mercilessly picked on. American schools are extremely stratified, kind of like Twitter, at least far more than Indian ones, and dorks (the picture above is an accurate representation of the condition) would have to resign themselves of a life-time of being having “Kick me” sheets taped to their backs, of being pushed around by the jocks, and of being laughed at by the girls.
If life is bad for black geeks and white geeks in America, it’s worse for the brown. There exists a culture of casual racism in many of its institutions, and nowhere perhaps do you see it as nakedly as you do in schools. School kids are cruel to each other, and that’s all over the world, but being a geek and being brown, well that’s just doubled your attack surface. Unlike blacks, whose culture of sports and music is deeply part of Americana, and Hispanics, who are are slowly integrating themselves in the same way, South-Asian-Brown is always foreign, always a butt end of racial humor, and no matter how much a Piyush with a green shirt and a white tie, may try to be American, he can be picked out and picked on from quarter-of-mile-away.
Then there is the accent. While you may have a perfect American accent (kids pick up accents very fast), your parents will always speak like characters in the Simpsons and you will be left, being ribbed for it, of having to silently apologize for the strangeness of your father and mother. Here is Jay Leno, a talking penis, who many Americans find insanely funny, making fun of Jindal’s father’s hypothetical accent, *after* he became a governor of a major American state, and also note, Jindal’s squirming-in-seat reaction.
Now here was Bobby Jindal on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the glad-handing Mayor of America. “Tell us about your background,” Leno said. “First-generation American, correct?”
“Born and raised in Baton Rouge,” Jindal said with a distinct drawl. He launched into the story of his parents’ journey to LSU. “[My dad] walked uphill going to school… and coming back from school,” Jindal joked.
“So your parents have an accent?” Leno asked.
The young governor winced, like a bookish kid who’s just realized he’s wandered into the wrong area of the playground. He looked down into his spidery hands, arranged at the moment as if they were holding an invisible bowl. He searched inside the bowl for the answer to Leno’s question.
“My dad more than my mom,” Jindal said of the accent. “But my dad, you know… none of his brothers or sisters got past the fifth grade… He went all the way to college. That’s pretty amazing.”
“When you were born… did he say — ” Leno bobbled his large head, playing to the studio audience. He put on a corny, over-the-top, Apu-from-The-Simpsons accent: “We will name him Bobby!“
The crowd roared.
“Nooooo,” Jindal protested, faint though distinct, his chin drooping to his chest, clearly mortified. His hands knit together protectively and fell into his lap.
Here is a little exercise. Do you think that Jay Talking Penis Leno would ever make fun of say Senator from Illinois Obama’s father’s African accent? No, not unless he wanted to lose his sponsors. or worse his liberal credentials. But for Indians, and also Chinese immigrants, accent-shaming is considered to be clean fun and you can thank the Simpsons for its mainstreaming. Now take Jay Leno, shrink him down to a five-year-old version of himself (closer to the intellectual age of Leno), multiply him by thirty, take away the comforting environs of a late night show and replace it by a baseball diamond, and you may understand why Bobby Jindal at the age of four, (as he claims) started asking children at school to call him Bobby, instead of Piyush.
Which brings me to something that is very important in understanding Bobby Jindal. Religion.
But before that a little story. Once many years ago, a true-blue American had said, “Oh I had forgotten, in India you drive down the wrong side of the road”, to which I had replied, “Not the wrong side. Just the other side.” Fed on a corn-beef diet of exceptionalism, a concept that can be explained simply as “The rules we expect of others do not apply to us because we are special”, anything that is not American is wrong, either to be bombed flat or to be laughed at.
Hinduism, being very different from the traditional Abrahamic One-God-and-one-Prophet underpinning assumption of religion, is considered to be the strangest of all.
Haha, you worship a monkey? Oh my God, is that a fat elephant? Do you really drink cow piss like for breakfast? Will your mother be burnt alive if your father dies? Some of these questions stem from genuine curiosity, the kind that children have, and some from malice, which children also possess in good measure. At least in my case, this was taught in school, the elephant-God as a representative of Hindiusm, and I remember everyone laughing at how silly my religion was, and I was the only one in class whose religion was laughed at.
It wasn’t a nice feeling, I can tell you that.
Parents are not much help. They want you to win the Spelling Bee or get into Harvard or Johns Hopkins and tell you of the time they came to the country with only eight dollars in their pocket, which translates to “shut up and stop whining”. And so after some time you just don’t want to tell them about the stuff you have to go through school. Instead you blame them for just being what they are. Pushy-uncle and overbearing-aunty from India come visiting and uproot you from your bedroom (this only looks good in Metlife Insurance commercial where the son very happily makes the bed for the visitors), and then they criticize your parents for your accented Bengali or Tamil, and then your parents force you to learn Carnatic or Rabindrasangeet on Sundays, when you would be hanging around the mall, trying to make small talk with Meagan.
Your faith is not of much help.
Parents take you along to the temple right after the weekly Patel Brothers trip for samosas and dhaniya powder, spend an hour offering Puja or doing aarati, and then come back and pop an old Hindi movie into the VHS and have stale samosas. There is no Imam or Pastor at the temple to eloquently define a notion of “us” and “them”, no congregation where you can connect with others your age going through the same experiences, there is no personal engagement of community-leaders with those whose faith is wavering, no “we are better than the rest” rhetoric. Nothing.
So isolated, bullied, you start hating everything about who you are. While you cannot avoid being dorky or wash away your skin, you can change your name and then your religion and hope that somehow this will make you American.
A large part of Jindal’s Bobbyness is because he has always wanted to be President. And much as America might hector and advice other countries on pluralism, it is singularly majoritarian when it comes to its politics. When Obama first came onto the scene, and the Republicans started spreading the canard that he was a Muslim, the counter-line from the Democrats was not “So what if he is a Muslim?” but “Oh no he is not Muslim. The Christian faith is extremely important to him. Hell he prays to Jesus everyday”. Things are so bad that President Obama had to cancel his visit to the Golden Temple, over concerns that if he covered his hair, and the picture of that got out, it might be construed as proof that he is Muslim. In this political environment, it is impossible to stay a Hindu and dream of the office of President of the USA, and so much of Jindal’s overt religiosity is carefully calibrated to resonate with his Christian conservative base, and compensate for the foreign-ness of his face.
This is Bobby Jindal’s official portrait. Photo credit: Robin May of @theInd pic.twitter.com/QBzSsMOoYZ
— Lamar White, Jr (@CenLamar) February 3, 2015
While Latino-Americans and Jewish-Americans find no conflict in endorsing and championing Latino/Jewish issues and, as a matter of fact, draw significant political strength from their composite identity, Jindal goes through great pains to de-hyphenate himself from Indian-American to pure American. His conversion to Christianity is not enough, he still has to keep on saying “Dude I am not Indian”. From his hilarious “tanned” campaign line to his rather Fair-and-Lovelied official portrait, (Nikki Haley, yet another Jindal-clone, lists herself as “white” in her voter registration) and his refusal to associate himself with any political cause that can be considered Indian, this heavy-handed denial of his roots is not only ridiculous, in a Uncle Tom way, but also pathetic.
Bobby has never supported a single Indian issue, he refused to join the India Caucus when he was a congressman [on] Capitol Hill and is conspicuously absent from any event with a visiting Indian leader,” Shashi Tharoor, an Indian politician and author, wrote in a recent book, “India Shastra.”
“It is as if he wants to forget he is Indian, and would like voters to forget it too.”
Of course, not every Indian-Hindu becomes a Bobby Jindal and thank God for that. But a lot do end up growing up alone and rootless in a culture that does very little to welcome them. And while it is perfectly good fun to mock Jindal and his stance on guns and homosexual marriage and evolution and, yes also his loathing of his roots, it might not be a bad idea to take a step back, pause on the #YoJindalSoWhite hashtags, and contemplate what it is about the American immigrant experience for second-generationers that makes a Bobby out of a Piyush.
47 thoughts on “On Bobby “I am Not Indian” Jindal”
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It was great reading what circumstances lead American born Indians to defy their own roots.
But I wonder how much it can be justified abt how he dealt with it. Or rather all d ppl who would feel ashamed of accents of their parents.
It would b wise to leave with dignity n respect for the things u r associated with rather den ashamed of it.
Instead of wincing he shd ve asked Jay Leno to try Indian lang w/o american accent. Thats how u stand up to bully.
Those who dont stand up for themselves shd not expect others to respect their identity.
If u ve doubt for your faith, learn abt it. Defy if u dont understand.
plz ignore typos
Whereas you are free to wince at the deliberate misspellings.
It is good that you have looked at Bobby Jindal’s case with some empathy. I am pretty sure he is not going to make it to the white house but he is making it easier for the next south asian with ambition to have a go. There is a lot to dislike about the US but then I doubt any country or culture can really stand upto to close scrutiny and come out spotless. All the ills of American society highlighted by GB are as much present in India too (India has a plethora of opinionated talk show hosts as well!).
What matters is how Bobby Jindal has reacted to the experience. I am sure he would have chosen a different persona if his parents had settled on East coast of the US rather than in deep south. And all said and done, Bobby Jindal is a more credible candidate than Donald Trump!
It is so easy to mock him, but the background forces one to almost empathize with him. Infact, this ‘exceptionalism’ and ‘majoritarianism’ of America too seems ripe for derifing and mocking, until one looks back at home and what we Indians do!
Excellent point that he or his parents might have chosen a diff path if they are rooted in say Edison, NJ. This article brings out the other point of lack of community support for hindu kids in alien countries/communities. Temple trips are mostly meaningless activities for kids forced down by parents but I saw temples starting hindu cultural programs. Thanks for a good read.
Lot of temples have cultural youth camps for summer. It’s a good idea along with support and encouragement at home.
I empathize with all Indian kids growing up in 70s and 80s in U.S. Things are very different now, some public schools in new suburbs have > 50% Indian origin kids, they are no longer the only brown kid in class. And I don’t think Indians working in tech industry live in working class neighborhoods anymore. Also as parents it’s our responsibility to first understand and respect our culture and teach our kids to understand and respect the same.
Is Obama referred to as Kenyan American? Is Jobs referred to as Syrian American? Is Einstein referred to as German American?, so why should Booby be referred to as Indian American? He wants to have no roots with the country of his parents. He is a American, end of the story. Why should we Indians have a problem with that? Why should we take credit for achievement of someone who ancestors were Indians?
As far as I know, Obama is African-American and yes Einstein was Jewish-American.
No, but how is Bobby Jindal Indian? Please answer that. Why should India should take credit about a lot of them like Jindal, who only by their ancestral origins are Indian?
Sir, from reading your comments and the comments of Mr Atul, it appears that I (as an Indian living in India) was supposed to receive some credit for the achievements of Bobby Jindal. I have received no such credit in my account so far. Please let me know how I can receive this credit. Is a xerox copy of Aadhar card or Ration card required for this? What is the approximate amount that I may receive? Thank You.
Dumb reply and even a dumber response from a dumb ass fan.
Some issues with the article:
1. I dont think the idea of calling yourself “Bobby” instead of “Piyush” is any different from John Leibowitz calling himself John Stewart or James Douglas Muir Leno calling himself Jay Leno. Besides, several people from far-east provide an “American” name in addition to their actual harder to spell name. Seems unfair to cite this as a symptom of selling out.
2. Calling him an Uncle Tom makes no sense. Just because he does not want to play identity politics (maybe because Indian-Americans are not a major voting block in Louisiana), does not mean he is anti-Indian. We Indians of all people should appreciate that his loyalty lies with the country he was born to, not based on his origins.
The post is very insightful on the life of minority kids. Thank you for helping me empathize a lot more with Piyush/Bobby. I see how it can be a personal choice to fit in and not fight the tide. But I just expect more from a leader – to turn the spotlight into something meaningful, to call out sexist/racist or plain offensive comments.
Reblogged this on Avi + Random and commented:
This post makes more sense than any article that I have read in 3 newspapers this morning
Being indian is not a good deal in these times ! What are chances of getting a bride from kashmir/azad kashmir as the local boys are not going to settle and marry. Could this be good opportunity to get a good deal…just convert, marry 4 babes & come back. Try and reply back !! http://profile.bharatmatrimony.com/kashmiri/brides Also heard rsussian, ukraine girls are now open to brown men/asians.
Bobby ur the biggest looser … By luck u became the governor…
Will Obama be ashamed if his father has an accent …what accent are we talking about ..
Americans have the worst accent …
If u go to Europe they have an European accent, Australia An Australian accent ..
So Asians too have an accent so what ….
I am very proud of my accent my roots …
Can Americans know 3-4 languages
I have been in the UK over 15 years. Over 14 years a Londoner. I hold an ILR On a UK biometric card. I’ve lived in all parts of London except the West because the West is a given. It’s all full of Indian sub-continent people.
Why commune with them, can do. But live with them, then why be in UK. That’s when it’s time for OAP (old age pensioner) status.
Well, it doesn’t make me less of an Indian or more of a British Commonwealth Citizen. My Queen is also our Commonwealth queen. The first day I am in UK as a legal entity, I can stand for the Prime Minister’s chair. After 2005 being born in UK alone does not make you Automatic British. One if your parents has to have legal permanent residence or be an EU / British citizen. An EU citizen can bring in their children over 16 and grand parents while a British passport holder can’t!
These are the nuances of British politics, immigration woes and forward thinking close loop thinking!
By the way I am also a British Empire Medallist’s eldest grandson who got nothing from him cause I stayed here too long except the promise in the Will that all that is my parents after their time will be mine!
So much for ecstasy in religion and Her Majesty’s pleasure! I am eligible for National Insurance (which I paid for over 12.5 years) sometimes working 12 hour shifts in community safety (NSL, London Borough of Haringey) security control room (community safety lead operator) . I’ve always been the top of my game and with 5 degrees and more diplomas, I am more experienced and/or more qualified than all in your immediate vicinity.
However, I am in UK. Not in USA or Ireland? Never been. Yes, my skin colour rules my destiny. However, I am not just about to jump into a cauldron of hydrogen peroxide and turn white or a vat of chocolate and join the KKK.
Pun intended. Excuse my satire!
Ex-VP Welfare & International students
Ex-Gov (Student Affairs)
First Indian Visit steward & lay community member
(st. Paul’s Carhedral, London)
2nd in South India (ADSE)
Great post with lot of hard hitting truths. What hilarious ‘tanned’ campaign line you referred to ?
Great, balanced article! I enjoyed reading it.
To be fair, I thought the “tanned, ready and rested” joke refers to Reagan t-shirts that were sold during his campaign at the RNC in ’88.
Lots of first and second generation immigrants either Anglicize their names or just make up new ones. Mindy Kaling and Kal Penn (works for B. Obama) are never vilified for it and instead are beloved public figures. If Bruce Jenner can be called Caitlyn, I see no problem calling Piyush, Bobby. Heck, I give my name as “Pam” anytime I order takeout or get coffee at Starbucks. It’s not self-hating, it’s just navigating my day with minimum inconvenience.
[I honestly feel like a lot of the hate against Jindal is solely because he is a minority Republican. Because how dare a minority be a conservative and a Republican? Why won’t he drink the Democratic Kool-Aid and buy into the liberal narrative that the white man is keeping the brown man down? They want to hear that he is treated poorly at a restaurant in Louisiana just because of the color of his skin. But instead, he is a Rhodes Scholar and running for the post of President. Blows their mind. Ditto with the Uncle Tom comments – I’d love to see a Washington Post article titled “How much black is left in Barack Obama, anyway?” It’ll be interesting to see how the media treats Dr. Ben Carson.]
People are free to criticize him on his policies and voting records, that’s fair game, and call him out on his BS opinions. All the rest of this, “is he Indian enough or not” is just white noise. He is NOT obligated to bear the burden of his ancestral heritage. He is free to self-identify as a Bobby, a Christian and an American, only. I thought we were all for self-identification these days. He chooses not to be a hyphenated American and that’s fine. Who cares if he’s good for India? He is not running in Indian elections.
(Also, like you pointed out, immigrants nowadays are far more pandered to than back in the 70s/80s. I teach elementary school and if a child doesn’t speak English, I have to go find a Vietnamese translator or have him listen to Arabic music etc and provide books and resources in their native language including having any and all communication translated for the parents. I can’t just tell them, “Look, this is America, it’s probably best if your child learns English ASAP. You need to work with him on that.” I can only imagine the reaction if I did say something like that. People would call for my head and Facebook would be calling for my school to be burnt down.)
Ooof, I cannot believe Twitter is making me defend this man. Now with all that said, Bobby Jindal seems like an utter noob and I am unlikely to vote for him just because he has an Indian last name. But I wouldn’t vote for Palin just because she has a vagina, so there’s that.
“But I wouldn’t vote for Palin just because she has a vagina, so there’s that.”
How about Hillary Clinton? Seems to me that many Americans want to vote for her solely because she has one (and identifies as a Dem).
those who forgets their roots never succeeds in life,look obama he never forgets his root and he succeeded in life.bobby jindal will be a disaster for US if elected as president
that’s kind of contradictory, isn’t it ? so you want Jindal to remember his Indian roots ? and you really think he will be successful as an US President if he remembers his Indian roots and behaves as such ? Have you seen any recent Indian politicians ?
If this was anywhere by that bible belt deep south then I would have had second thoughts on bobby’s non-indianness.. but louisiana is the deepest of the deep south. Not a day passed when someone or the other a. did not shout racial slur b. try to convert. And this guy was the head of louisiana system of education back then. of course he doesn’t recognize browns.. 🙂
The reason they hate us is that we are richer. Have you seen a poor Indian in US? I’d rather have in their cocoons of comfort, ignorance is usually bliss, 2 more decades, end of western supremacy. Has it not already started? Look at UK, pull the ear, and the head is never behind.
Thanks a million for posting this. The thanks is for saying it like it is about the life of “Indian American” kids growing up there. I myself was in US on H1B visa and was a little sad at coming back – but even then, I knew that we could never become “1st class” Americans etc. Which is kind of ok for people immigrating from here. But NOT for the kids growing up there.
I feel that this should be read by every single person in India aspiring to go to US and get green card etc. They should know just what emotional torture they are setting up their kids for.
What an excellent post! Part of the reason you wrote so well might be because of your experience growing up for a period of time in the USA.
So much has already been said about this identity confusion but it will keep on evolving as certain factors are added in, like globalization, fast communication and ease of keeping up with what is happening across the globe.
Also, the part of the USA where one grows up will matter too. For instance, I am curious to see how my child will turn out, growing up in Silicon Valley, amidst a majority of Asians like Indians, Chinese, Koreans as well as Mexicans, with what seems like a minority white population and almost no existence of African-Americans.
Quite disturbing this picture of Indian kids being harassed and taunted in schools. Genuine qn to you Arnab. Is this one of the main reasons for your intention to move back to India? For your daughter not to face these things in her vital growing up years? Thanks.
(Like I said before, I teach elementary school in the U.S. and to be fair), I’d wager that this type of taunting and harassing usually doesn’t happen anymore on a large-scale, frequent basis. Schools usually have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying. Student populations, you must remember, also look very different nowadays than they did back in the day (1960 and 1970s). Now of course, you can never eliminate every mean comment from a mean kid – I have taught at several multicultural schools and kids are the same every where. It doesn’t matter whether they are Indian or American. Kids can be unusually cruel and malicious and will pick and often bully kids who are different in ANY way – shape (fat/skinny), size (tall/short), social status (rich/poor), family structure (divorced/same-sex), accent, (foreign) languages spoken, religion, type of food brought for lunches. I’m also curious, like you, if factors like this influenced Arnab into considering moving back to India and raising his daughter there. As a first generation Indian-American immigrant married to a white American man, I often think about how I’d raise our (yet to be born) children and the unique challenges they are likely to face so stuff like this really interests me.
Thanks for sharing your personal experience, Arnab. So, were you born here (your comment ’bout second generation Indians – “because I was one, too” seems to indicate that you were) and at what age did you leave for India? If not, at what age did you come to the U.S. and how long did you live here as a child before returning to India? Sorry if this is personal in any way, inquiring minds want to know.
That was an insightful article about how Piyush became Bobby. As you mentioned, identity crisis is a big issue for migrants in any part of the world or even interstate in India. Guess Indians in America are between a rock and a hard place. To fit in or get back at the bullies from childhood and teenage. Maybe that smooth assimilation into American culture will take place gradually over the next 50 years. The world is becoming a small place.
If every American is claimed by people as their original country man, yelling that “HE IS FROM HERE” there would be only those left who came down from the North during the receding ice age to claim NATIONHOOD of a virgin land, nearly ten thousand years ago!!!
As an Indian I do support second amendment and right to own guns and totally support Jindal on this issue but other than that I liked the issue.
Based on this article, I believe that the Indian-Americans have a deep sense of inferiority complex. Wherever you go (including in India), the established clan is going to bully the newcomers and make fun of everything that is alien to them. It is the job of the immigrants to actually make them see their point of view. Unfortunately it seems that either desis indulge in jingoistic mockery of goras /childish sense of pride focused inwards (e.g. KHNH and similar “made for NRIs” movies). If not, we see the meek submission to the ‘norms’ like in the case of Jindal and “Happy Halloween/4th July/Thanksgiving wishers who forget all the Indian holidays on Facebook .
Why can’t we have someone like Trevor Noah? While the likes of Russel Peter have built their career in mocking the immigrants, Trevor has done it the other way round. There is a difference between adapting to the culture while contributing it and aping the culture for just for acceptance within the society.
Disclaimers: Not been an American NRI.
“There is a difference between adapting to the culture while contributing it and aping the culture for just for acceptance within the society”…..
Yes, indeed! This is true whether one immigrates OR one “senses he/she is an alien in their own surroundings”. So many times people are faced with the problem of either sticking to their beliefs/values or simply “going with the majority”. Doing the latter “going with the majority” does result in increased “acceptance” of the person by the majority. Its a gut-wrenching decision and many times not very consciously taken, but taken in stages as pain of being “kept out” increases.
It takes great amount of thinking/feeling etc to stick to ones opinions, **especially** if one is the social type. The alternative – unthinkable to many is more or less being a loner. At least when you have enough “like minded loners”, you can band together, call yourself by some new names etc. I have always wondered about the over-arching impulse of otherwise brilliant people for a “sense of identity”. Many times when faced with tough questions as to whats the right thing to do versus questions of “belonging”, many people seem to choose “belonging” – not necessarily happily i guess….
These are the kind of “everyday psychology” that (I believe) is not taught in schools – and people slowly, painfully figure out for themselves.
Dear Arnab, if you can throw some light on on how is it for Tulsi Gabbard given she is a ‘Hindu’? Was it easy for her being away from the mainland?
Very well written, as usual, Arnab. An eye opener in the world of nationalist jingoism. Thanks. However it worries me about lot of people I know and adore who are in Us now -including you.
The problem with Jindal is not that he doesn’t acknowledge his roots (as some Jindal apologists are claiming) but the problem is that he goes out of his way to deny them. The guy hates his DNA. Changing his religion, painting himself white, being offended at being called an Indian-American are all signs of a man deeply insecure in his own skin. On the other side you have Barack Hussein Obama, who didn’t change to an american sounding name, visited Kenya to look for his roots, embraced his black identity despite being raised by white grandparents on the remote islands of Hawaii. I wouldn’t want a man as a leader who can’t accept his own heritage. It’s Obama I vote for Not pretentious Bobby.
Besides Jindal’s self hate there is also the matter of his politics. Anti-immigrant, anti-intellectual, anti-muslim, anti-poor he is the perfect embodiment of republican ideals (other than his skin color of course !).
Part of the problem with Jindal’s self hate is perhaps also with his unfortunate choice of the political party. The Republican Party is a party of old white guys. They may now and then accept a different demography in their fold, just to resist the label racist from the rest of america, but they will not compromise their core principles which mean that you should sound like an old white guy, especially when you are not by birth, in order to be accepted in their club. That amounts to an aspiring member needing to deny his/her own heritage. So, if you are black you must say that there is no racism in America, you should blame those black guys for tempting fate when they are shot down by police, and you should denounce the country’s first black president for each action that he takes. Same goes for other minority aspirants who must be born again Christians (if they were not born Christians), should say that america is the greatest country in the world (if their parents come from some other country), should deny abortion rights to women (if they are themselves women) and with other words and actions prove that they indeed are old white men if not in birth then certainly by thoughts and actions. Jindal, Nicki Haley, Ben Carson, Michael Steele, they have all been metamorphosed into old white guys to such an extent that on days when they don’t see the mirror they forget that they do not look like an old white guy, they just are one in their soul.
I feel this is a bit harsh. I am an Indian Christian , living in the US.
Jindal is not Indian. Why should he be? He was born in the US and that makes him an American. His parents chose to go there . They chose to not live in India. He became a Christian and somehow Indians in India or everywhere else want him to be Indianified … why? what for though?
Excellent article, I am a British Indian and could relate to it on so many levels. It wasn’t as hard for me because I went to a multicultural primary school and high school where there was a very high percentage of South Asians – At these types of schools racial jokes just aren’t on and it’s something that schools take very seriously.
Despite that it didn’t take long for me to coin on the social inequality side of things, you know waiting in line at the coffee shop and can’t help but notice that the young cashier behind the counter is being friendlier to everyone else and realise that it is happening more often than it should then comes the self analytical questions – Is it just me? Am I reading too much into things? If it is because I am Indian how come I know some who are popular and very well liked? And it goes on.
After that comes self loathing as you pointed out, yeah give yourself a western or ambiguous sounding name that will change everything but to no avail. It really sheds light on the whole uproar about White girls wearing Bindi discussion, that so many Indians growing up in the west begin to feel ashamed of their inherent culture and shun it in hope of social acceptance – It is why cultural appropriation is a real phenomenon and so many White people just don’t get it.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are many Indians who would disagree with what I said and sailed through school whilst making a lot of friends with people from a variety of backgrounds and feel that they are generally treated with respect. But it is really hard for a lot of us growing up in the United States, Canada or England strangely enough my father was born in English as well and he completely disagrees with me even though he grew up in the 1980’s.