Sepia Mutiny Good for Mental Health

I recently learned that people that are more in attune with their ethnic identity are also less prone to mental health issues.

Ethnic pride can help teenagers maintain happiness when faced with stress, according to a new study by a Wake Forest University psychologist published in the October issue of Child Development. [...] Those with higher ethnic regard rated their daily happiness level higher.

“Adolescents with a high ethnic regard maintained a generally positive and happy attitude in the face of daily stressors and despite their anxious feelings,” Kiang said. “So, having positive feelings about one’s ethnic group appeared to provide an extra boost of positivity in individuals’ daily lives.” [link]

Despite integration being healthy, segregated local communities and same culture friendship groups are common. A previous study reported that traditionalism was more common among women but this study did not explore the relation with mental distress or health.33 Traditional friendship choices may minimise the stress related to facing new dress, beliefs, diets, attitudes, religion, and lifestyle. [...] Bangladeshi and South Asian pupils with integrated friendship choices had lower levels of mental health problems than white pupils. [link]

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p>So…the way I see it… Sepia Mutiny helps people of our ethnic identity with being more in touch with issues around the South Asian American diaspora. I would even propose that people that, oh say, click the refresh button repeatedly for www.sepiamutiny.com may actually not be psychotic, but actually exemplifies exceptional mental health. Additionally, reading Sepia Mutiny will make you happier.

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p>Sadly, the South Asian American community is still a little confused on how they identify their racial identity here in America. Historically, the U.S. Court Ruling for ethnic individuals from South Asian since the 1920s has gone from: Hindu to Caucasian to Non-white to White and finally to Asian Indian.

The confusion goes much deeper into the self-identification of the South Asian American community – according to research around the 1990 Census, the first time Asian Indians were given a separate identity, we see the following.

When all Asian Indians from the 1990 census sample are considered, regardless of age or household status, and the children of all Indian household heads are included as well regardless of their reported ancestry and birthplace, 83 per cent of this sample of 7,758 describe themselves as South Asian. Among the US-born segment of this sample, however, only 65 per cent use a South Asian term. Instead, 25 per cent of the second generation is identified as `White’ , and 5 per cent as `Black’ . [link]

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p>Allright… So maybe not everybody in our community is as in touch with with their ethnic identity as most of the people that read this site. 25% of South Asian Americans think of themselves as white, for goodness sakes. Granted this was taken back in 1990, and I firmly believe that 9/11 and the years after have significantly changed racialization in this nation. All the same, there are people in our community confused with their racial categorization. So it seems… Sepia Mutiny is additionally providing a service to this 30% identity confused population to further decrease their identity confusion.

I had no idea that SM was providing such a service – shouldn’t the government be funding us for providing this kind of service for society? Seems like we here in the bunker could use a new and improved tagline to reflect these results: Sepia Mutiny: Decreasing your confusion, increasing your happiness, integrating friendships, and lowering mental health issues.With the simple click of the refresh button!

This entry was posted in Health and Medicine, Humor, Musings by Taz. Bookmark the permalink.

About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

39 thoughts on “Sepia Mutiny Good for Mental Health

  1. Those with higher ethnic regard rated their daily happiness level higher.

    What does Bollywood Fugly do to our “ethnic regard” ?

  2. not a big bollywood fan..(does that make me less brown?)…and maybe more ‘white’?, in that 25% taz? :) ..i could care less about the stardust, bollywood hungama and 3 hours of movie nonsense with the same story rehashed filled with horrible acting, lip synching, and painful comedy routines…(i’m so asking for a blog flogging.. oh well..)

    however SM is a fantastic way of communicating, staying in touch with brown issues, and makes me happy.. and refreshing to see the sendhil ramamurthy picture was quite fun ;) .

  3. Instead, 25 per cent of the second generation is identified as `White’ , and 5 per cent as `Black’… So maybe not everybody in our community is as in touch with with their ethnic identity as most of the people that read this site.

    I don’t think the latter statement is fair. Did you consider that maybe some of these folks could be multi-ethnic desis (as in having a white or black parent)? For example, I have a family friend who identifies as black b/c his mother was a kenyan desi, and his mother identifies more closely with being kenyan than with being desi. So it wasn’t an identity crisis in his case.

    I don’t know if I would immediately jump to saying “some desis are out of touch with their ethnic identity.” People have a right to identify as whatever they want. Who are we to tell them how to identify?

  4. All funniness aside, I would like to say that Sepia Mutiny actually has been very important to me as a part of participating in and celebrating my ethnic identity. I am half desi and half caucasian. For a variety of complicated reasons, I was not exposed to some parts of desi culture growing up and have embraced them into my life largely on my own initiative. For a few years I went through a time when there were hardly any Indian features to my life at all (for the aforementioned “complicated reasons”–isn’t that always the case?). Anyway, for that entire time, I felt that there was a part of me that was being ignored and that there was something important missing in my life. When I decided to take initiative and embrace and cherish my browness, I looked for ways to incorporate the desi things that were familar to me and to learn about things that I had not really encountered before.

    Sepia Mutiny has been such a valuable resource for me. I have had a chance to learn new things about art, culture and politics within the South Asian community and have had the chance to read personal stories and perspectives that resonated with me and sounded like my own. I was particularly happy to read the series that DesiDancer and Siddharta wrote about the mixed experience because it showed me that I am not alone and there are birds out there with feathers like me. It also showed me that desis in the states have so many similar experiences whether we are mixed or not and that I am not an “outsider” in the South Asian community, but am just one facet in a very nuanced group. It also made me feel like I could find common ground with almost anyone. So, I will proudly press my “refresh” button obsessively. :)

  5. SM changes lives, no question aboot it.

    chick pea (#6):

    i could care less about the stardust, bollywood hungama and 3 hours of movie nonsense with the same story rehashed filled with horrible acting, lip synching, and painful comedy routines…

    Not to mention sexism, casteism, homophobia, etc. I’m with you, chick pea. Blog-flog away, ye who demand that I check my brain at the door when I enter into the harrowed hallowed halls of cinema.

  6. I don’t think the latter statement is fair. Did you consider that maybe some of these folks could be multi-ethnic desis (as in having a white or black parent)?

    Actually, humor aside, there’s a lot if serious topics intertwined in this post. About race, ethnicity, culture, the racialization of American society, outside perception, inside perception. One of the biggest problems is that all the data that exists is Census data, and as you can see from the paragraph before that statement- we as desis have been categorized in a variety of races. The Census attempts to capture this when they switched in 2000 Census to include multi-ethnic people — every thing pre-2000 people had to choose just one category. I highly doubt that 30% of the American born desis in 1990, the era of the first wave of the 1965 post immigration baby boom era – were muti-ethinic babies. Rather, I think that becuase we live in a racialized nation- where people have been categorized and priveleged by race since it’s founding – that as second generation desi immigrants in 1990 and still adjusting to manuevering how American society perceived desis in the racial construct – well, people were confused. We hadn’t yet figure out how we ourselves were supposed to be categorized in America. It was easier for the foreign borns, i believe, because of their being born in another country.

    Epidimeology and statisticians have a ways to go in figuring out ways to best measure our community, and there are obviously a lot of flaws to how scientific research has moved along. You should really read that entire study if you can. Fascinating, really.

    As for happiness- read the link to see their methodology on how they measured it. But if happiness is relative, and the study was taken in America with American hyphenated kids, doesn’t that happiness correlate with the happiness level of most of the people that read this site, an “American” site?

  7. The autonomous individual and free will are two of the great delusions of all time, almost as scandalous as the proletarian class struggle. Ethnos endures, for good or for bad, and always will, until the meteors come and wipe us out. AND it makes you happy :-)

  8. I was particularly happy to read the series that DesiDancer and Siddharta wrote about the mixed experience because it showed me that I am not alone and there are birds out there with feathers like me.

    Awww so sweet. Thanks SemiDesi. You’ll be pleased to learn that DD and I have been cooking up the third instalment.

  9. I highly doubt that 30% of the American born desis in 1990, the era of the first wave of the 1965 post immigration baby boom era – were muti-ethinic babies.

    I fully agree. Didn’t Razib once put some numbers from a study that showed multi-ethnic desis are very few.

    Actually Taz, I personally know quite a few 100% desis (ABD, IBD alike) who consider themselves white. I would rather not go on details.

  10. Siddhartha, That is awesome that you are doing another article with DD, I was really touched by the first two and I learned alot about myself and the desi community as a whole by reading the threads. So, thanks. :) Incidentally, I noticed that I spelled your name wrong in my earlier post. Mea culpa.

  11. Also, Taz, you should remember that 66 % (again courtesy Razib, he can correct me on exact numbers) desis as of today are South Asian born. In 1990, that percentage would have been higher.

    Therefore, the study you are discussing was significantly sampling 100%, desh (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) desis. That makes me laugh more.

  12. desitude:

    The autonomous individual and free will are two of the great delusions of all time

    what caused you to say this?

  13. The happiness gained from reading SM and participating in its community is balanced by the worry that I’ll be fired for hitting refresh too often on the more hotly debated posts. Ughh….the law of conservation of happiness is an axiom of my universe.

  14. desitude: The autonomous individual and free will are two of the great delusions of all time what caused you to say this?

    It was predestined ;) .

  15. Does the desirability of “higher ethnic regard” apply to whites (in white-majority contexts)? Or only to “ethnics”? Also, are we distinguishing ethnicity and race here?

  16. Therefore, the study you are discussing was significantly sampling 100%, desh (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) desis. That makes me laugh more.

    Not sure about this – but the study was pretty distinct on the measure of foreign born vs native born. Not really sure how many of it was “desh” vs “Asian Indian” nor if “South Asian American” was a box to mark – (i highly doubt this and think that the South Asian American identity was given since it’s such an old study.) It’s not a perfect report i know. But still is interesting.

  17. Does the desirability of “higher ethnic regard” apply to whites (in white-majority contexts)? Or only to “ethnics”? Also, are we distinguishing ethnicity and race here?

    Read the studies- all of them linked. Like I said, epidemeology has a ways to go – so each study defined race/ethnicity differently. I actually think the first two links did some white compartitive analysis- people who thought of themselves as white had more mental issues.

    Which I guess lead to a broader question – Is the term “South Asian American” a race, ethnicity, or culture? I had that problem in trying to intertwine these research articles.

  18. Is the term “South Asian American” a race, ethnicity, or culture?

    i think any of those maybe sufficient, but none are necessary.

    e.g., a brown adoptee is south asian american. but, a ‘white looking’ kashmiri of half-brown (or 1/4 brown) is south asian american too.

  19. The 25% of desis who identified themselves as “white” are a seriously deluded, pitiful bunch. Must be a psychologically traumatizing/humiliating experience for them to be surrounded by people who see them as coloured.

    Bollywood probably deserves much of the blame for this pathology. Its depressing to see so many educated, grown up desis still obsessed with the tacky, shabby trash that Bollywood spews out in such large numbers.

  20. I’m with you, chick pea. Blog-flog away, ye who demand that I check my brain at the door when I enter into the harrowed hallowed halls of cinema.

    vivek: i laughed… and also nodded my head with your other descriptions of um.. bollywood..

    Bollywood probably deserves much of the blame for this pathology. Its depressing to see so many educated, grown up desis still obsessed with the tacky, shabby trash that Bollywood spews out in such large numbers.

    i don’t know if bollywood is to blame.. for the ‘white’ identity..but agree with your last statement wholeheartedly..

  21. Bollywood probably deserves much of the blame for this pathology. Its depressing to see so many educated, grown up desis still obsessed with the tacky, shabby trash that Bollywood spews out in such large numbers.

    I know of two families who are very “fair and light eyed” where the children are being raised as “white” and for all intents and purposes any reminder of being “brown” is absent in the house. The mother has bleached her hair blond etc. I feel disturbed each time but the kids are really smart and very well rounded and if I saw them walking down the street without the pretentious mom/dad I would think they were caucasian as well.

    I used to know this chick who I worked with. She was Pakistani, 100% but she would tell everyone she was half Persian and half Brazilian. Yeah fake blond hair blue eyes the works and everyone used to think she was so exotic and the guys were always throwing themselves at her but yup she was still a phoney.

  22. Ethnic pride can help teenagers maintain happiness when faced with stress

    what does this mean? how? huh? i’m so puzzled

  23. SemiDesiMasala- hey, thanks!! I think I can speak for Siddhartha (not that he has a choice), and myself in saying that your comments and appreciation mean a lot. It took me a while to come to identify brown; whether that’s coincidental or medically documented to having impacted my overall demeanor… as long as it’s for the positive, then it’s been worthwhile.

    Ennis, dear,

    What does Bollywood Fugly do to our “ethnic regard” ?

    Fugly is as fugly does.

  24. …although only a small part – teeth and eyes (minus the eyeballs)

    your nails and palms are black??? please check your pulse to see if you are dead…

  25. OK, ok, get raging.

    The 1990 Census has significant issues with respect to Indian Americans. As you noted, it was the first time the “Asian Indian” category was used as a separate breakout. When you look at the numbers and the distributions, it becomes clear there was significant overcount (Many native Americans checked that box). There is also a small category of white people born in India and a slighly larger category of Anglo-Indians ancestry that may have checked the box — those numbers are so small it is impossible to do any real analysis there. Also, it is still very unclear about what Pakistani/Bangladeshi, Figian Indian and West Indian Asian populations did when they had to confront the box.

    The real answer is to stop the whining about whatever number associated as “White”, and to focus on getting “South Asian” broken out into its own category — that would give everyone a much better sense of what these communities actualy look like and the real issues they face.

  26. For certain “Indian-Americans” identifying themselves as “white” would not be a complete delusion. Some are in fact that pale and are virtually indistinguishable from your run of the mill “caucasian” american. However, I doubt that 25% of “Indian-Americans” would fit that profile.

    I agree with Charlie to some extent, but I think the South Asian category has to be broken down more.

  27. “Historically, the U.S. Court Ruling for ethnic individuals from South Asian since the 1920s has gone from: Hindu to Caucasian to Non-white to White and finally to Asian Indian.”

    Taz, where are your sources? The U.S. Courts have toggled between classifying Indians as White and non-White pre-1923 but the crucial U.S. v Thind case by the Supreme Court established that Indians were non-White since 1923. No case has overturned this. And the courts have never established that Indians are Asian or spelled out whether it is a separate non-White race or part of another non-White race such as Asian. (source)

    The Census Bureau (NOT THE COURTS) have described Indians variously as Hindu and then “Other Race” then White then Asian. Most anthropologists since 1893 and some earlier have classified Indians as Caucasian and later as biracial Caucasian and Dravidian. (Aryan is not a race, it’s a language group, as Max Mueller points out). And some newer anthropologists disagree with any science-based racial classification and opt for talking in terms of relativistic genetic distances between means from various population samples.

  28. your nails and palms are black??? please check your pulse to see if you are dead…

    Pink. Pulse – now that you mentioned it, I checked it and was shocked to find myself dead.