Speaking of Self-Description: “South Asian”

Taz’s post today had one of the strangest statistics I’d ever seen — that 25% of South Asian Americans had, in 1990, identified themselves on the U.S. census as “white,” while 5% identified themselves as “black.”

It made me think of a post by progressive Muslim blogger Ali Eteraz from last week, where he discussed his own variant of an identity term crisis, not on racial but religious terms:

I onced asked a little kid I know what he was. He was like, um, er, I am a Pakistani-Muslim-American. I was like, what the hell, thatÂ’s messed up, little kids shouldnÂ’t have to hyphenate their identities like that, man.

Then one day I was typing up a post and I was like dammit I am really tired of having to write out the whole word “American-Muslim” or “American-Islam.” It’s just tiring.

So I decided that we needed a new ONE WORD term to call ourselves. . . In the end, I decided IÂ’m going to use “AmeriMuslim” – it is easy to understand, and it sounds like “A merry Muslim.” So from now on, thatÂ’s what IÂ’m going to use as my identity, thatÂ’s what IÂ’m going to teach nieces and nephews to say, and thatÂ’s what IÂ’m going to use even in my actual publications.(link)

Given that Ali Eteraz is (I believe) of Pakistani descent, my first thought is to say, “well, why not South Asian?” If we want to limit it to just one word, why not “desi” or “deshi”? Of course, in a sense I already know the answer: if religion is the most important aspect of one’s identity, one obviously privileges it over ethnicity. (Analogously, I also know a fair number of conservative Sikhs who are adamantly “Sikh American” and not “Indian American” or “South Asian American.”) Within individual states in the Indian Subcontinent, the term “South Asian” is rarely used. The progressive magazine Himal Southasian attempts to move beyond national identifications to a more regional, South Asian focus, but it’s the only enterprise I know of that does that. If “South Asian” exists mainly in the imagination of the diaspora, does that make it less meaningful?

Finally, I’ve noticed that more liberal Indian Americans in my acquaintance (of any religion) usually don’t bother with “South Asian” except when talking about someone whose national background isn’t known. It’s “Indian American” or just “Indian” (sometimes you even hear the slang term “Indo” — as in “there were a lot of Indos at the club”). In the comments at Sepia Mutiny at various points, people have also disparaged the term “South Asian” — mostly Indian nationalists, who’d rather deemphasize any association with Pakistan or Bangladesh. (On Pickled Politics, Sunny posted that conservative Hindus and Sikhs in England have been making similar arguments.) Is “South Asian” one of those terms that exists mainly in the abstract, to describe large groups and populations — but not necessarily individual people?

409 thoughts on “Speaking of Self-Description: “South Asian”

  1. Kush: Why do you believe that South Asian is a Frapuccino construct?

    When push comes to shove, it has no grounding, no backbone. That is why? Just put a little pressure, and see.

    I lived in Lafayette, Louisiana for a year in 2001, and my only “brown” friend was a Pakistani American and thahis family. He wife is white American and he has been in States from early seventies. I used to go to his house every month. I still consider him as a good and decent friend. Except in front of his wife, we always spoke Urdu/ Hindi. But still we knew we originally came from, and we had some fundamental differences – Kashmir, cricket for example. We never discussed Kargil. We knew our boundaries, and that is better – that is why I said “South Asian” concept will never stand any litumus test. Any how, the is my opinion.

    Many years ago at Cornell, some of my friends were Pakistanis since they (the ones who were at Cornell at that time) were more laid back, fun loving than typical Indian student. We never seeked common terms. Did we discuss about F-16 sales in 1980s? Did we talk about four wars that have been fought between India and Pakistan? No but we were aware of it fully and the cost.

    PS: ALM, if you wish to seek common South Asian “deeper” construct sits over the India in hierarachy of terms and identity, I guess it is OK. I am not going to do it even though I find Pakistani women extremely attractive.

    hairy_d: I personally do not see it as a wedge issue but it could be. Do I call every ederly woman my mother. Aunty, that is pretty much it?

  2. Wait a minute, we’ve had so many threads on SM with 200+ comments. If we’re so passionately discussing subjects that interest us, but are of no consequence in the larger scheme of things and are simply a form of intellectual self-pleasuring…we must all be……Bengalis!!!!

    And SM is an adda.

    There you go!

  3. Abhi, comment 95, a personal attack on mutiny.in is uncalled for. The mutiny.in does not make any reference to SM. Nor does it look like or cover the same topics as SM. Please keep in mind that one of your ‘mutineers’ was one of ours before she joined you. Mutiny.in is an Indian thought terminus and does not even cover the same topics as you. Our only issue with SM is that it sells t-shirts showing a map of India without parts of Jammu and Kashmir. No Indian, especially those with friends and family who have served there will ever accept that. In the words of Munnabhai, “Get well soon, Abhi”

  4. I think terms like South Asian possibly blurs the identity by making us part of a non-threatening blob to the uninitiated (eg. redneck). Indian/Pakistani/Sr LAnkan, on the other hand, upsets the rhythm of lazy thinking, forces the aforementioned redneck to remember the next time he meets an….Indian/Pakistani/Sri Lankan.

  5. I dislike the term “South Asian”, not because I’m an Indian nationalist, but simply because I disapprove of an identity based only on my skin colour. My identity is based on various things, my language, its literature, my upbringing, my extended family, my profession, my friends and so on and so forth. So yes, identity should not be hyphenated, it should be multi-hyphenated!

    Its funny, we use people’s ‘identities’ to conflate them into groups, rather than identifying individuals!

    The trouble with the diaspora of course, is that while you may identify yourself as an American, your neighbour might not. And that’s the whole sepia mutiny story, I suppose… no easy answers….

  6. A N N A wrote:

    Indeed. If I were to believe all the coy brown girls at college, there are NO fucking Indians. Not until they’re married, at least.

    sorry Anna, I have to pick on you here a little bit. i think you meant that if you believed all the coy brown girls, there are no fucking indian GIRLS…. they can’t attest to the activities of male members of the brown community now can they? (pun intended)

  7. IncensedIndian wrote:

    Its funny, we use people’s ‘identities’ to conflate them into groups, rather than identifying individuals!

    You write this like it’s a voluntary choice. Our instinct is to do this… think about how we would have survived tens of thousands of years ago if we didn’t?

  8. The 3rd/4th geners from Europe still identify themselves as Irish, german etc. They never refer to themselves/(their ancestors) as “Europeans”. Same is true with Korean/Japanese/Chinese/Taiwanese ..they never refer to themselves as EastAsian-American.

  9. Mr Kobayashi, where are you? Are you purposely staying off this thread because it’s all been covered? Just wondering…

  10. It’s funny though that so many people who spend their time discussing how different we are from each other, all gravitate to the same place to hang out, because we all subliminally feel a connection, which some of the people chilling together in brown plenitude and relaxation want to deny :-D

  11. Wow. Now wasn’t that sentence full of ignorant stereotyping. What makes you think 1) our parents “escaped” and that 2) We have little clues to the region? When in fact what I love about the bi-cultural hyphenated identity of being South Asian American is the American issues, the desi issues, and unique cultural experience of the desi-American life that honors both backgrounds and are very intertwined.

    Sorry if I’m harsh.. But unfortunately that’s the truth of the story. Maybe the second generation folks can explain why their parents migrated in the first place.. I have heard the usual stories about “lack of opportunities” / “corruption” etc.. From that I concluded that they really “escaped” from that region.. Maybe I can get another perspective..

    Why do you think you can decipher what our self-identification needs are when you don’t even have a clue what it means to live a hyphenated life of being both desi AND American?

    Good question.. I don’t have a clue of growing up brown in America.. and I appreciate and understand your anger in treating my suggestion of grouping yourselves “brown” American with contempt.. I’d likewise ask the second generation people to admit they have no clues of growing up Tamil/Malayali/Hindu/etc..etc.. in India and admit if people from India oppose the label “South Asian” they could have valid reasons behind..

  12. Kobayashi is Spoor Lam who in turn is Siddhartha.

    Leftist Cabal Rapists!

    As much as you try to subvert the assertive nation in America, as much as you may try to destroy us, rape us, oppress us with Californian textbooks, as much as Wendy Doniger puts a false beard and moustache on her face and pretends to be someone called ‘Professor’ Amardeep Singh, as long as Pankaj Mishra wears a dress and lipstick and pretends to be someone called ‘ANNA Suitable Girl’ , as much as ISI operative pretends to be named ‘Abhi’ and even colludes with Pakistani taxi driver from Chicago by name of Afzal Khan to pretend to be a character called ‘Yo Dad’ to increase his ‘authenticity’, as much as you pretend that a man who claims to be called ‘Siddhartha’ but is actually a transvestite from Harlem sent to destroy the sexuality of Hindu men unsure about their testicles-orientation, as much as you try to neuter and rape us with your copies of Karl Marx, you should know that commies and anti-nationals will be deleted soon as much as you try to suppress and rape us in America with your so called ‘Sepia Mutiny’ and so called ‘South Asian’ and so called ‘Desi’ identity.

    Do not do triple cross on me with your own tactics. I am watching you all. We are muscular now. And our identity will beat yours in the long run. So there. Be scared. We are virile and as long as our women donÂ’t do sex scenes with too many Abrahamics and negroes, you will be defeated. So be very afraid. Saffron balls are twitching again. They are on fire. Please destroy your website within fourteen days because youÂ’re hurting sentiments.

    Hail Mogambo!

  13. I dislike the term “South Asian”, not because I’m an Indian nationalist, but simply because I disapprove of an identity based only on my skin colour.

    “South Asian” is not a colour, genius. Perhaps you should direct your criticism at the use of the term “brown” that so many here are desperately clinging to?

    Its interesting to note that its the blacker ethnicities (bengalis, tamils etc) that are so insistent on the use of the term brown. While the browner ethnicities (punjabis etc) are keen on being seen as “fair” non-indians, period. Both seem desperate to enhance their status with their respective delusions. Which means they have all bought into the status=colour dispensation, hook, line and sinker. Pathetic really.

  14. My Dear South-Asian brother/sister, isn’t it a shame that the Congress wont the election a few years ago? Oh? What was that? You don’t have elections in your part of South Asia? You’re ruled by a military general? Oh never mind. We can always discuss the South Asian prowess in software, you know like from Bangalore? What? You can’t get to Bangalore/Bengalooru(yech) because of a bunch of artificially constructed borders passports and embassies? Oh dear. Hmm, well let’s see, what else can we talk about…isn’t it great how our shared common culture means that I, as a citizen of New Delhi cannot walk into the local shopping makret without fear of getting blown up by a suicide bomber? It’s funny, the police in my part of South Asia blame people in another part of South Asia. But I thought we all had a common culture and langauage and stuff. I don’t feel like blowing them up. I’d rather earn some money, feed my kids, and move on with prop Why do my artificially divided South Asian brothers want to blow me up? How strange. I thought we were all the same. Stupid politicians. Hey, South Asia’s forecast to be the next biggest economy isn’t it? Oh wait, no, that was just what us right-wing fanatic hindu nutcases call India. Yes, that’s right. That funny name on my passport which says India. Why doesn’t it say South Asia? Stupid politicians. Means nothing to me. Hey, when’s the last time you celebrated Pongal in your part of South Asia? What’s that? You’ve never heard of Pongal? You only know Eid and Ramadan? But I thought all of us South Asians had a common culture. You can at least wish us a happy Pongal or Diwali right? It wouldn’t hurt would it? No? Hey, isn’t it great that our country’s constitution is based on the American and the Australian constitution and attempts to guarantee the rights of minorities and freedom of speech and association? Oh wait, for some reason that constitution doesn’t say South Asia. It says…er.. that right-wing nationalist fanatic word again…what was it…oh yea…er…India. Hey doesn’t South Asia get a lot of foreign investment. Wasn’t part of that report on the 4 new big economies of the world…er…it was called BRSAC right…Brazil, Russia, South Asia, China. Because South Asia has done such a good job to refine and reform itself…oh dear. Those fundamentalist Hindu Nationalists seek to remind us that that report said BRIC – Brazil Russia India China….well it’s ok, we can club India’s achievements as South Asia’s achievements, because we are all the same right?

    Dear AMERICANS. Please feel free to call yourself whatever the bloody hell you want. Homo Erectus, Homo Flaccidus, Carbon-Based Unit, South-Asian, Desi, Deshi, Desi Arnez Loves Lucille Ball or whatever else you want. It is a free world after all. I just ask you for a small favour. Stop imposing it on the people of India.

    As far as I am concerned, Sepia Mutiny is an American blog. Not Indian. Not South Asian. But American. It is discussing the issues faced by one section of America’s population. Not India’s. Because, clearly, what’s written on my passport is just an artificial construct to you. How nice and convenient that you guys reject what is an everyday reality for me. The freedom struggle, and any other fight anybody may have conducted in the name of India or Pakistan or Bangladesh or Nepal or Bhutan or Sri Lanka is irrelevant when compared to the fight to form America, or any other part of the world which has the luxury of being referred to as it wants to be. Somehow, Indians do not deserve that right. Why? Because non- “SOUTH-ASIAN” Americans are too goddammed lazy to educate themselves about the differences between countries. So let’s pander to that laziness, and convince ourselves that we are the same, and anybody who wants to be different is a nationalist/a fundamentalist/an inconsiderate jerk.

  15. Dear AMERICANS. Please feel free to call yourself whatever the bloody hell you want. Homo Erectus, Homo Flaccidus, Carbon-Based Unit, South-Asian, Desi, Deshi, Desi Arnez Loves Lucille Ball or whatever else you want. It is a free world after all. I just ask you for a small favour. Stop imposing it on the people of India.

    dear indian from india. i am american, born and raised..american to the core.. ‘my country tis of thee, sweet land of LIBERY, of thee i sing’ i just happen to be a brown american. i don’t think SM imposes it’s views on the people of india. if you don’t like what you read, then stop READING. for example, if i don’t enjoy a party that i’m attending, i simply walk out.. duh. simple answers. always

    and as for this:

    As far as I am concerned, Sepia Mutiny is an American blog.

    last time i checked, north dakota was in america so you get bonus points for your keen insight. thanks!

  16. Its interesting to note that its the blacker ethnicities (bengalis, tamils etc) that are so insistent on the use of the term brown.

    Just because myself and Razib insist on brown (I don’t know of others who like ‘brown’ ) you extrapolate it to fit your own delusions.. .. I liked ‘brown’ because it can broadly fit the category of people we want to classify.. (although it won’t fit people in the north east of India and maybe north west of Pakistan) I’d be perfectly happy if you further classify subgroups as ‘blackish brown’ etc.. ‘whitish brown’ etc………… I think I’ve come out of the color prejudice a long time back.. “enhance the status”.. LOL.. :-)

    Did you notice that you have to type ‘brown’ everytime you want to post in sepia mutiny??..

  17. Yawn A question was asked at the beginning of this post: If “South Asian” exists mainly in the imagination of the diaspora, does that make it less meaningful?.

    I am answering that question.

    if you don’t like what you read, then stop READING. a) I could say the same to you b) I didn’t say I didn’t like what I was reading. It gives me a Hindu-Fundamentalist Hard-on. I get off on reading this stuff. Now excuse me while I go find a mosque to break down, so that I can conform to your stereotype of me.

  18. I get off on reading this stuff. Now excuse me while I go find a mosque to break down, so that I can conform to your stereotype of me.

    um. okay. i suggest you go to this, and get off on that instead.

    go do whatever you need to do, to get your own angst out of your so-called ‘identity issues’.

    however, i suggest dancing on tables (wearing converse shoes) instead of mosque bombings. for you to tell me that that is my stereotyping of you is utterly obscene and blatantly wrong..

    this isn’t a discussion of hindu fundamentalism.

    and as razib would say…… brown…

  19. Brown as an identity in America has already been taken: by the latinos. Who far outnumber desis in the USA. And latinos have little love for south asians.

  20. Macacaroach (or whatever you call yourself): What’s with the hate, bro? For someone supposedly espousing the cause of black Indians, you sure don’t have a lot of love for them.

  21. I find Pakistani women extremely attractive.

    And even more so latinos, persians and arabs, right? Thats because they fit the bollywood standard of beauty far more than indian girls. Bollywood after all is a continuation of Mughal culture and sensibilities, and has been run by a muslim mafia from the beginning.

    But unfortunately for amorous indian boys the attraction is not mutual. The muslim west asians and latinos they are so smitten by will not give them the time of day. You apparently derive some hope from that indian-origin nobel laureate bagging a pakistani broad :)

  22. I might be the only latina masala on this thread so I will say to macacaroach,

    re:Brown as an identity in America has already been taken: by the latinos. Who far outnumber desis in the USA. And latinos have little love for south asians.

    Why you such a hater man? Did some butthead latinos ruin your day? Even if they had a problem with you being desi/south asian/indian etc. that’s their problem, not yours and not the latinos. Screw them. I obviously wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have love for brown the world over. I don’t know anyone who cares about who gets to use brown or how latinos have greater numbers. Where I come from-NY/NJ, brown is shades of everybody. As a foster child, I lived with an Indian family -so home and identity for me are a masala. I’m personally not that into being proud of a circumstance of birth over which I had no control-such as being female, my ethnicity or nationality or whatever. But I don’t disparage anyone else the right to do so, it’s their life, after all. Pride is different for everybody, a little about identity, a little about power. A little about love.

    OK, I gotta go teach the children now…

  23. ANNA,

    re: #161

    [Ross and Rachel are drunk in Vegas] Joey: Hey Rach. How you doin’? Rachel: I’m doing good baby. How you doin’? Joey: Abhi Ross. Don’t let her drink anymore !


    I’m wryly observing the flow of discussion on this thread, which in some aspects is proving to be very predictable ;)

  24. I’m going throught the comments, slowly, so forgive me if this has been addressed:

    It’s kind of like how people with african ancestry don’t see themselves as Nigerian-American or Congo-American, just black. In fact, most black people don’t even know what part of africa their ancestors are from

    Umang, this ONLY refers to African Americans whose ancestors were brought here as slaves and because of that legacy (splitting families, disallowing native language transfer etc) that they don’t know/care where they are from. If you speak to “African” immigrants now, they MOST definitely have national identities tied to them. I am Kenyan-desi-American, maybe East African Asian American but certainly NOT African American…

    Also, being 3 generations (4 if you consider that my great-grandparents moved when they were mere teens) removed from the desh, and given that when my family moved away there was no India/Pakistan etc, the Asian identity (which refers to South Asians) trumps the Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi identity markers.

    So I identify really strongly here/now with the south asian or desi identity rather than the Indian one. If forced to narrow it down, I say I’m Gujrati. “Indian” doesn’t sit right with me at all (because it is a national identity)…

  25. Kush, Your #203 comment describes my US grad school experience. Most of my freinds at grad school were Pakistanis. Some of them are still freinds even after a decade. Shared language is probably the reason. We never discussed politics, but hung out, played pool etc. We would root for our respective teams when it came to cricket world cup.

    I dont have a lot of problem with the SA title because as a minority in the US, shared experiences creates a kinship between these groups that is not possible back home.

    But one cant deny the PC aspect of the title. India is to South Asia what USA is to North America, geopolitically and culturally. Whoever denies that is intellectually blinded by extereme PC-ness.

    Some points :

    • The people of Canada, USA and Mexico are not called “North Americans” yet they have a free-trade agreement and havent fought wars.
    • People of Greece dont embrace their Turkish brother and Sisters as “South East Europeans”.
    • Kosovar Americans inspite of being Muslim will not go looking for a “East european” group identity because they dont look different from the majority Americans of European decent.

    • In short, no matter how “american” my newly sworn citizen ass claims to be, as long as I look different from majority european-americans, I will go look for a similar looking group to connect with. Nothing earth shattering there. ….. “Race is a artificial (social) construct” ….. yeah right !!!!

  26. Same is true with Korean/Japanese/Chinese/Taiwanese ..they never refer to themselves as EastAsian-American.

    Dont be silly. They refer to themselves as Asian Americans. Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, Japanese Americans have no problems referring to themselves as Asian Americans.

    Also lets remember that India is a very diverse country. What does a Muslim in UP have in common with a person from Tamil Nadu except for their shared passports? Arguably he would have the most in common in terms of culture, language, food with a Muhajir from Karachi like Musharraf.

  27. Sahej

    “Kritic,

    That may be your experience, but that is not probably a true statement

    Now, that is unfair. You have no right to call me a liar.

  28. Keynadesi,

    Either your forefather’s moved out of India in 17th century (but then you would be around 6 or even more generations removed), or your History 101 misses even simple basics. Because the official term India has origins from 17th century onwards:

    The name India was known in Anglo-Saxon, and was used in King Alfred’s translation of Orosius. In Middle English, the name was, under French influence, replaced by Ynde or Inde, which entered early modern English as Indie. The use of the name India dates from the 17th century onwards, and may be due to the influence of Latin, or Spanish or Portuguese.

    Wait a minute, the concept of India goes back to Maurya and Asoka Empire. The word Bharat is thousands of years old, so the offical seal of India.

    Do you why East India Company had the word “India” in it in 17th century.

    Let’s forget Bharat numbo jumbo for a minute, The day East India Company won the Battle of Plassey in 1757, India became an offical term, and in 1857, it was reaffirmed. The height of revionalsim is that India did not exist prior to 1947. Do you think MK Gandhi went to South Africa as a British citizen? What was on his passport?

  29. AlMfD,

    Jai: Please dont tell me that you watch ‘Friends’. I used to think you were cool ;)

    Yeah I was addicted to Friends when it was on, although these days I think Frasier was better.

    However, right now I’m a huge fan of Two and a Half Men. Charlie Sheen Zindabad.

    Don’t look so surprised — you should know by now that that kind of show would appeal to me ;)

  30. I’m wryly observing the flow of discussion on this thread, which in some aspects is proving to be very predictable ;)

    And now that we know this, doesn’t it make you look at each of the commenters wondering about their mental health and happiness? I’m just sayin’ some of y’all don’t sound ‘Happy’ or ‘stable’ and it’s coming out on the discussion of identity issues….

  31. Sahej “Kritic, That may be your experience, but that is not probably a true statement” Now, that is unfair. You have no right to call me a liar.

    He didn’t call you a liar. All of us did. Don’t make blanket stereotyping statements unless you have proof.

  32. Ponnyn Selvan:

    Sorry if I’m harsh.. But unfortunately that’s the truth of the story. Maybe the second generation folks can explain why their parents migrated in the first place.. I have heard the usual stories about “lack of opportunities” / “corruption” etc.. From that I concluded that they really “escaped” from that region.. Maybe I can get another perspective..

    Practically every group in recent times immigrated for economic opportunities; that doesn’t mean one detests one’s antecedents or see’s no value in one’s heritage, nor does pride in one’s ethnic heritage mean one is any less American.

    Kenyadesi:

    So I identify really strongly here/now with the south asian or desi identity rather than the Indian one. If forced to narrow it down, I say I’m Gujrati. “Indian” doesn’t sit right with me at all (because it is a national identity)…

    India, like China, is a civilization housed in a nation state. It is also the best expression (though often challenged) of the pluralistic ethos common to the longstanding Indic traditions. A Syrian Christian, a Gujurati Jain, a Tamil Shaivite Mudaliar would not be able to carry on his cherished ways of life in Pakistan or Bangladesh, which is why some, of whatever generation, are proud of the Indian in them, and see a connection between the civilization, the culture and the state.

  33. Taz, Sahej, et al Maybe you guys are deliberately misinterpreting my point or maybe your comprehension is slow. I said…….In My Experience.

    Maybe I (arrived in the US five years ago) have not been exposed to the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who champion the South Asian cause, yet?

    That is no reason to call me a liar.

    p.s. only my wife can call me names.

  34. you should know that commies and anti-nationals will be deleted soon as much as you try to suppress and rape us in America with your so called ‘Sepia Mutiny’ and so called ‘South Asian’ and so called ‘Desi’ identity. Do not do triple cross on me with your own tactics. I am watching you all. We are muscular now. And our identity will beat yours in the long run. So there. Be scared. We are virile and as long as our women don’t do sex scenes with too many Abrahamics and negroes, you will be defeated. So be very afraid. Saffron balls are twitching again. They are on fire. Please destroy your website within fourteen days because you’re hurting sentiments.

    worships SpoorLam

  35. If you ask me, I will 100% of the time respond that I am South African. But the brown doesnÂ’t rub off. For a laugh I tell people that alot of Africans look like me, Somalians, Egyptian, and Eritreans, although there is a lot of history that would support that angle (ancient trade routes). I think South Asian might be a little to much for many Americans (black/white), I have tried it and then had to explain the concept, time consuming. If we popularize the term then it would be more widely acceptable, so start using it, cos we are here to stayÂ… i.e. brown people.

    The difficulty for me is when brown people ask me: Brown: Where you from? Me: South Africa Brown: No, which part of India? Me: sighÂ…..

  36. Yeah I was addicted to Friends when it was on, although these days I think Frasier was better.

    I love Frasier as well. Its not on anymore though (except for re-runs). Actually recently I found out about Goodness Gracious Me. I just love that show. I have seen every single show on Youtube and I am going to get the rest on DVD. I wish we had similar shows in the US. For example, I was not sure why ‘Going for an English’ was so funny. Then I went to Wikipedia and realized that the English like to go ‘for an Indian’. Rest of the jokes though are not that Britain specific. Are there any other British shows by desis?

  37. The 3rd/4th geners from Europe still identify themselves as Irish, german etc. They never refer to themselves/(their ancestors) as “Europeans”. Same is true with Korean/Japanese/Chinese/Taiwanese ..they never refer to themselves as EastAsian-American.

    Those Europeans also refer to themselves interchangeably as “White”. And without a doubt, Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, etc, as well as many Vietnamese, Laotians, etc refer to themselves quite consistently and explicitly and exclusively as “Asian” or “Asian American”.

    Now, desis are often excluded from “Asian American” depending on the situation, as I’m sure some of you have noticed. So what do we do? We want to be part of the club too. The most logical racial lumping is with Arabs, but that really hasn’t stuck. So we go with “South Asian” because it most neatly fits the geographic and racial ideas of this country. In England, we’re just simply “Asian”, and the East and Southeast Asians probably have to fend for themselves like we do in the US. I’m not entirely sure about how it works there, though, so perhaps it’s something else.

  38. Kush:

    Let’s forget Bharat numbo jumbo for a minute, The day East India Company won the Battle of Plassey in 1757, India became an offical term, and in 1857, it was reaffirmed. The height of revionalsim is that India did not exist prior to 1947. Do you think MK Gandhi went to South Africa as a British citizen? What was on his passport?

    Thanks. I am glad someone called that one out. If India came into existence in 1947, then by the same logic Europe has never existed.

  39. Taz, Sahej, et al Maybe you guys are deliberately misinterpreting my point or maybe your comprehension is slow. I said…….In My Experience. Maybe I (arrived in the US five years ago) have not been exposed to the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who champion the South Asian cause, yet?

    But you read this blog, right? And I blog here, and Ismat comments frequently. And I’m a Bangladeshi American that championed the South Asian cause with an organization, and I talk about it all the time here. And I make it a point to blog about non-Indian issues. Which means that you HAVE been exposed, by default of reading Sepia Mutiny. Which is WHY when you say “In My Experience” in comes across as ignorance – fine, maybe your not “lying” but you got hella big blinders of ignorance on.

    And THAT’s what pisses me off- that here at SM we provide you education and tools to expose you to the diverseness of South Asian American issues so you can make educated decisions. And yet you make blanket stereotypical comments which are “In Your Experience.”

    I’m just sayin’…

  40. Either your forefather’s moved out of India in 17th century (but then you would be around 6 or even more generations removed), or your History 101 misses even simple basics. Because the official term India has origins from 17th century onwards:

    Kush, but it’s NOT the India we refer to today, which is why the term desi sits better with me than Indian. Because the “India” MY forefathers came from included what is today Pakistan/Bangladesh…

    AND btw, my forefathers left “India” (in the late 1800′s) as BRITISH subjects (with British Overseas Citizen rights) NOT Indian passports. Which incidently is also why so many EAA (east African Asians) ended up in the UK in the 70′s after Idi Amin threw Asians out of UG and why to THIS day so many Kenyan-Asians hold British (overseas) citizenship even if they were born in Kenya….

  41. India, like China, is a civilization housed in a nation state. It is also the best expression (though often challenged) of the pluralistic ethos common to the longstanding Indic traditions. A Syrian Christian, a Gujurati Jain, a Tamil Shaivite Mudaliar would not be able to carry on his cherished ways of life in Pakistan or Bangladesh, which is why some, of whatever generation, are proud of the Indian in them, and see a connection between the civilization, the culture and the state.

    Desitude, well, by that logic, there are too many parts of India (including/especially Gujrat) that will not let me carry out my brazen, hussy, alcohol consuming, ass grabbing, man molesting, cherished feminist ways, so I see no connection with the country?!

    or, I can practice my religion/culture etc comfortably in Kenya, UK, USA, Canada etc, therefore I identify myself as Kenyan, British, American etc????

  42. In England, we’re just simply “Asian”, and the East and Southeast Asians probably have to fend for themselves like we do in the US. I’m not entirely sure about how it works there, though, so perhaps it’s something else.

    Yeti, from what I know (and my experience in Kenya) this is exactly the case. Asian in UK/Kenya is the equivalent term to South Asian or Desi in Amreeka

  43. Desitude, well, by that logic, there are too many parts of India (including/especially Gujrat) that will not let me carry out my brazen, hussy, alcohol consuming, ass grabbing, man molesting, cherished feminist ways, so I see no connection with the country?!

    Umm, Okay.

    or, I can practice my religion/culture etc comfortably in Kenya, UK, USA, Canada etc, therefore I identify myself as Kenyan, British, American etc????

    Sure, why not? Identity is about choice, AFAIC. I was just pointing out why some have no problem with “Indian.”

  44. Taz,

    My contention/query was – where are the SAJA’s and South Asian Women’s Forums, etc – founded by Pakistani and Bangladeshi’s?

  45. Taz, My contention/query was – where are the SAJA’s and South Asian Women’s Forums, etc – founded by Pakistani and Bangladeshi’s?

    kritic, you just keep digging a deeper hole.