As American As Amit, Aasif, or Barack

Like many other browns I know, my name seems to bring out the worst in other people. When I taught elementary school in Brooklyn, an older colleague insisted on calling me “Ms. R.” “I don’t mean to offend,” he explained, “but if I try saying your last name, I know I’ll just sound silly.” Well, now you just sound like an idiot, I thought. A similar encounter occurred during my first week of graduate school, when the Dean approached me and introduced herself. I told her my name, and she asked, “Why couldn’t your parents just name you Molly or Jane?” Yes, I know, Naina Ramajayan…so difficult to pronounce, that even I just call myself ‘The N.’ It’s all pretty ironic, actually; considering that I’m a southie Hindu, my name is about as simple as it gets.

Thankfully, the baggage that comes with my name is fairly harmless, and I’m able to laugh it off. No one has ever looked at my name and suggested that I be targeted for homeland security. Some of my friends from college, however, haven’t been as lucky. When my friend Rahul Shah introduced himself to his co-worker a while ago, she responded, “Like, as in, the Shah of Iran, that Holocaust denier?” (Oh yes, she did.) Another friend felt pressured to start using his middle name at work because his boss joked that his first name, Amit, sounded like ‘Ahmed.’ And so what if does? “Dude,” he explained, “Three of the 9-11 hijackers were named Ahmed.” Amit, Ahmed, Shah, Iran…looks like the code is finally getting cracked.

I used to think these issues concerning names were a burden only for us brown people. But then I learned that Senator Barack Obama of Illinois is in a similar predicament. CNN did a nice story a few weeks ago (you can view the clip here) on the “controversy” surrounding the Senator’s name. Since Obama rhymes with Osama, Barack rhymes with Iraq (and Chirac), and Hussein is his middle name, he’s evidently a newly-discovered threat to the United States. After watching that clip, I felt guilty for thinking my buddy Amit was just being paranoid of his boss all these years. In fact, now I’m even more paranoid than I ever was before. Of rampant stupidity, that is. Aasif Mandvi appeared on the Daily Show on Tuesday night to bring his perspective on Obama-Osama-gate.

My favorite line: Aasif Mandvi? Yikes, I sound like trouble. People, keep your eye on me.

Jokes aside, I have to wonder: if Barack’s name — or any of our names, for that matter — rhymed with McVeigh, Rudolph, or Kaczynski, would any of this even be a topic of discussion?

427 thoughts on “As American As Amit, Aasif, or Barack

  1. I don’t find anything particularly objectionable about cabbies and clerks

    The discussion is not about you, is it? Do you deny that there are put downs/caricatures of desi cab drivers and store clerks by non-desi americans?

  2. Instead, I was saying that almost any group historically that’s been able to subjugate or wipe out another group has chosen to do it, especially if it brings great benefit to their own group at acceptable cost.

    Exactly India and Africa bought a huge benefit to the colonial powers. At that time the colonial poweres didn’t have anything of value to offer to any country. Even now how about Iraq. Iraq has the second largest pool of oilfields and look at whats happening.

  3. Door wrote:

    “I see, indians abandoning their own race to serve a foreign one is right in line with your claim that “we aim to help those whose DNA is most like our own”? Utter nonsense.”

    “The Selfish Gene” explains well both a) why high-IQ people from India leave to purse economic opportunity in the West, and b) the contempt you have for those who do so. to a), Dawkins would explain that future doctors who choose to emigrate do so in large part because the increased $$ they get enhances their DNA’s fitness, improving the odds it’ll move on to the next round of life. As for why this bothers you, b), Dawkins would explain, because they are selfishly (in your view, which I generally share) choosing to maximize their specific DNA strands’ fitness levels, ignoring the negative impact their leaving has on the quality of the wider gene pool of similarly-encoded organisms such as yourself and other Indians. Or, as you shortened that to above, “abandoning their race”.

    You really should pick up a copy of the book, or at least look over the wikipedia page. It’s hard to understand one’s own place in the world without knowing some Dawkins, since it explains so much of deep human motivation.

  4. The discussion is not about you, is it? Do you deny that there are put downs/caricatures of desi cab drivers and store clerks by non-desi americans?

    Well, my central ponit was that store owners (vendors, 7-11 franchisees, etc) should not be included in this group since mom-and-pop entrepreneurs are generally respected and well-to-do to boot. I assume, since you don’t mention it, you grudingly concede this point?

    As far as put-downs of desi cabbies and clerks by non-desi americans goes, anecdotally i can’t think of any but i’m sure there are snobby people out there who do it, but there are also many american out htere who respect all “hard workers.” Either way, I don’t think this “negative sterotype” really hurts us in america in any meaningful way, especially since it is countered by the high-achievieng sterotype (docs, IT professinals, entrpreneurs) for those of us concerned with social class.

    I think blacks and hispanics have to deal with the really hurtful stereotypes…druggies, criminals, promescuity, low education, etc.

  5. Dilletante–

    The idea that Africans and Native Americans contributed equally to Europeans in creating the civilaztion that put a man on the moon is just P.C. nonsense. There have certainly been valuable African contributions to culture (some of them extremely valuable), but not significant contributions in science, law, business, technology, or education, and the Native American contributions to these fields barely register either. And people don’t move their lives here from India for jazz and rap and the NBA, they move here for $$.

    The PC answer to this is that those groups didn’t contribute because they were oppressed, but again, come on. There are serious mean IQ differences that explain the discrepancy cleanly. It’s been 40 years since people who believe that took control of our universities, but even the top 10 colleges in the country still have to lower their standards drastically to get to 8% black (Harvard’s annual quota).

    And why would I deny that you have ancestors who fought on both sides of the civil war? If you do, then you do — blacks have fought in every war in U.S. history, I acknowledge that readily.

  6. There’s a theory in India that the castes are divided along DNA or genetic lines, or rather, it was a way for the ancients to divide people according to their ancestral genes.

    Regarding “dot busters”. Wasn’t that back in the 60s and 70s in England?

    I was recently watching an introductory to ska music and rudeboy culture on youtube and the white skinheads were talking about not liking “pakis”, but they were OK with blacks, especially Jamaicans, coz all their beloved music, dress and culture was coming straight out of Kingston at the time. But for some reason, which wasn’t told in the few minutes of the intro, they just didn’t like “pakis”.

    Wait, I just watched it again and one of the speakers seems to be indicating that the black skinheads joined camp with the white ones in their hatred for “pakis”…

    Check it out;

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=-gPZFpWC9o4&mode=related&search=

  7. As far as put-downs of desi cabbies and clerks by non-desi americans goes, anecdotally i can’t think of any but i’m sure there are snobby people out there who do it, but there are also many american out htere who respect all “hard workers.” Either way, I don’t think this “negative sterotype” really hurts us in america in any meaningful way, especially since it is countered by the high-achievieng sterotype (docs, IT professinals, entrpreneurs) for those of us concerned with social class.

    I’m always more self-conscious in India stating that my father is simply an “electrician” than over here in America, where, as stated above hard work and an honest living, even if via labor, is respected.

    And I almost always get a more positive response about that over here too.

    In India electrician means the local “mishri” and that job is not held in the highest regard, though not the lowest either.

  8. Namitabh –

    I re-read your post #348 and I think I see what you’re getting at — but the fact there is a human universal, such as having fear of one’s group being attacked, does not in any way negate the concept of race. Is that what you meant? There are hundreds of such human universals (gods, the color white, certain words, etc.), why wouldn’t there be since we’re one species — but that doesn’t change the fact that there are meaningful genetic subdivisions beneath that.

  9. “There’s a theory in India that the castes are divided along DNA or genetic lines, or rather, it was a way for the ancients to divide people according to their ancestral genes.”

    Right, Steve Sailer has described India’s caste system as “Jim Crow on acid and steroids,” which is what makes my post #301 so true.

  10. The idea that Africans and Native Americans contributed equally to Europeans in creating the civilaztion that put a man on the moon is just P.C. nonsense. There have certainly been valuable African contributions to culture (some of them extremely valuable), but not significant contributions in science, law, business, technology, or education, and the Native American contributions to these fields barely register either. And people don’t move their lives here from India for jazz and rap and the NBA, they move here for $$. The PC answer to this is that those groups didn’t contribute because they were oppressed, but again, come on. There are serious mean IQ differences that explain the discrepancy cleanly. It’s been 40 years since people who believe that took control of our universities, but even the top 10 colleges in the country still have to lower their standards drastically to get to 8% black (Harvard’s annual quota). And why would I deny that you have ancestors who fought on both sides of the civil war? If you do, then you do — blacks have fought in every war in U.S. history, I acknowledge that readily.

    I find it surprising that when someone comes out here and says all blacks are stupid, no one protests. While people are willing to go on and on about how someone pronounced their name wrong.

  11. Sakshi wrote:

    “I find it surprising that when someone comes out here and says all blacks are stupid…”

    False. I wrote: “There are serious mean IQ differences that explain the discrepancy cleanly.”

    I trust you can see the differences between these two statements.

  12. There’s been a union between one group of dalits in India with some pan-africanists who are jumping all over the color/gene/caste system of India. For those of you interested, google away, coz there seems to be alot on the net about it.

  13. False. I wrote: “There are serious mean IQ differences that explain the discrepancy cleanly.” I trust you can see the differences between these two statements.

    Ya, thats just a PC way of saying the same thing.

  14. I’m not sure that there is a Seminole (?) diaspora in my present location [London] that I could get the current politicaly/culturally correct name from- but if you are really curious google might be a start.

    even the ones who criticize whites and claim to be a suffering majority and in ideological line with African Americans

    Well I was speaking for myself in fact I said “I for one”, am not asking anyone to choose some identity based on what I view as a false (white/black) dichotomy, as ~El Snapper~pointed out this really isn’t 1950. Yes you will find some ‘black’ leaders that define all of their aspirations political and otherwise based on their skin color, rarely ones under the age 50. And for each of those you have another person in main stream American politics- who also plays the race card w/ code words. I haven’t read /heard anything to the affect that Barack Obama, Connie Rice, Thomas Sowell ,Kieth Ellison, Colin Powell, Jessie Jackson Jr.,Harold Ford Jr, define themselves solely by their race and a common ideological line. And frankly I get a little tired of other people imposing their ideas of what my politics, (pan-african? ) etc. are based on my race, because of that I make a sincere effort not to do it to others.

  15. The idea that Africans and Native Americans contributed equally to Europeans in creating the civilaztion that put a man on the moon is just P.C. nonsense. There have certainly been valuable African contributions to culture (some of them extremely valuable), but not significant contributions in science, law, business, technology, or education, and the Native American contributions to these fields barely register either. And people don’t move their lives here from India for jazz and rap and the NBA, they move here for $$.

    Dear WhiteGuy –

    All right. Let’s take your “white Americans of European descent were [solely] responsible for creating the civilization that put a man on the moon” theory. Control room at NASA… full of white guys. Apollo spaceship… full of white guys. Moon… full of white guys. Oh, great! We did it! White guys are the bomb!

    Now consider two things. One of which has been mentioned before. These hard-working white guys were only able to do what they did because they were being supported by a cadre of invisible and equally hard-working women, people of color, and poorer white guys. Who grew/boxed/shipped/unpacked/cooked their food? Who cleaned the NASA toilets? Who had the martinis waiting for them when they came home?

    Even more importantly, America has had decade upon decade of laws, codes, old boys’ networks, etc. which ensured that jobs like aerospace engineer would only be filled by white men. Not because women or people of color were any less able, but because of a desire to uphold a particular social structure. (And don’t say “they were less able because they didn’t have the education” — well, who do you think denied them that?)

    All those years of white guys contributing to society only happened because A. the white guys in charge refused to offer opportunities to anyone except other white guys and an occasional “token,” and B. white guys TOOK or WERE GIVEN the opportunity to spend their days studying, creating, designing, etc. because of an economic and social structure which freed them from the toil of day-to-day survival and placed that burden on the backs of others.

    Everyone in America has contributed to making it the civilization it is today.

  16. Control room at NASA… full of white guys.

    I worked for NASA for some time, and my impression is that only around 50% of the employees were white. If you are talking about 1969, that’s another matter.

    Your general point is correct though.

  17. Red-headed,

    Well, you’re right to a small degree, but only a small one. If I’m a Bears fan and they win the Super Bowl (could happen!), I can say “we won the Super Bowl” since I bought tickets and watched the games on TV. But I’m not as important in the effort as Rex Grossman or Lovie Smith. Those guys are sine qua nons, I’m not, and you can see how odd it would be for me to claim equal credit as them for the achievement.

  18. I worked for NASA for some time, and my impression is that only around 50% of the employees were white. If you are talking about 1969, that’s another matter.

    Yeah, that’s what I meant — should have specified. Thanks!

  19. Dilettante -

    I did not say nor have I assumed that you were a “pan-africanist”. Whenever I use that term I am talking solely about people I know that are pan-africanists.

    (How many pan-africanists does it take to screw in a light bulb?)

    Red-headed girl’s point is well taken.

    African slaves did all the ground work (for free and with beatings) while these white guys “built the country”.

    So who built it?

    Anyway, White Guy’s point about I.Q.s is well taken also and the only people who get offended by that would have to be people who put alot of faith in I.Q. tests and think they are some great indication of overall intelligence, which is highly debatable.

    I’ve recently come to find out that many inventions and discoveries in science that we take for granted today, were indeed invented or discovered by black people (mostly men) but I was not taught about them in school. As time goes on I’m sure more women’s names will be added to the list – both new ones and old ones who I haven’t previously been taught about.

    This is the advantage of having pan-africanists screw in my lightbulbs. Hee hee hee.

    Just joking. But it is the advantage of having pan-africanists in my social circles.

  20. That South and East Asians have made significant contributions to NASA (and U.S. hi-tech in general over the past 40 years is undeniably true.

    But equally undeniably true is that this harnessing of their brainpower was only possible because of a system of education, governance, and business set up over the previous several hundred years by Europeans, which is why the South and East Asians traveled across the world to get to it.

    Redheaded, we don’t have an argument on the statement that “All groups have contributed to America’s greatness.” But trying to elide that into “All groups have contributed equally to America’s greatness,” or anywhere close to “equally,” is P.C. feel-good stuff, not reality.

    As Steve Sailer noted recently:

    “For example, Graph 5a is “Immigrant Groups Founding Engineering and Technology Companies in California.” India is out in front at 20%, followed by Taiwan (13%), and China (10%). This time, Mexico makes the chart, but with only 1% (and that’s not of all tech / engineering firms but 1% of just those with immigrant participants). That’s not a lot of return for having 10,000,000 Mexicans in California.”

    Now, I’m sure Mexicans clean the buildings that Indians start high tech companies in, but that doesn’t make their contribution to California and the U.S. equal.

  21. WG,

    The culture which ‘put man on the moon’ is also the one that was (and continues to be) transformed by the civil rights movement spearheaded by MLK and other black Americans, and which had been preceded by agitation from generations of black leaders before them. Randolph did not lie when he called MLK the ‘moral leader’ of America. This movement did not simply transform the lives of black Americans, but of all Americans. Leaving aside the obvious ramifications for women, gays, the disabled and other minorities, the movement and its fruits actualized the promises implict in American democracy. White America should be on its knees in gratitude to Black America. And please don’t come back at me with the writings of Rousseau and Mill; like the words of so many white men, they required the actions of non-whites to make them worth more than the paper they were written on.

    FYI – Indians prefer to move to the States less because of $$$ (they could get more in the Gulf countries)than because of the perception that they will enjoy many freedoms, among which is the ability to make $$$. And that, my blinkered WG, is because of the changes effected by black Americans upon America.

    A suggestion: Why not practice what you preach, and keep to your own? Your opinions are not unusual or daring, as you seem to think, but recycled soundbytes of views which have been appearing in books and newspapers for the last few decades. Every human motivation can be reduced to a gene or a hormone. Ho Hum. Under the guise of explaining something, such theories explain nothing. They are similar to explaining the experience of eating a gingerbread cookie with its recipe. The recipe explains nothing of the experience. If you want to explain the altruism of satyagraha (look it up, WG) or civil disobedience through some gene, go ahead – you don’t undermine the beauty or reality of such movements, or the fact that participation in them is experienced as beautiful and altruistic. The aim of all such reductionism, at bottom, is to debase the finer things in human experience. Such naysaying used to find a home in religion and its condemnations of man as sinful; now we’ve got scientists telling us we’re nothing but predictable machines.

  22. At this point, I don’t know whose argument/point this helps or hurts, but I once had to do a thesis paper on the origins of the caste system and its subsequent impact on the contemporary racial prejudices of Indians. There are two theories that make a near equal amount of sense to me, but I don’t know, perhaps someone else can elucidate?

    Firstly, the caste system supposedly arose from the Aryan invaders who are the ancestors of the present day Greeks, Russians, and some Germanic tribes who repeatedly invaded the Harappan/Indus River Valley civilization that consisted of the “original” Indian who had a lot of phenotypic similarities with Africans. The invasions and battles between the two were documented in the Vedas that discussed, along with the Gita, the “fair” skin tone associated with the Aryan/Brahmins and the “dark” color associated with Indus/Untouchables. The shades between fit in the castes between. That seems pretty race based, and in a cheek-in-tongue manner, part of this global “white repression” people aren’t hesitant to bring up at every model UN meeting….(I don’t really have a stance on that, I’m just commenting from observation)

    The other theory is that the colors associated with the different castes were analogous to a chromatic representation of artistic perceptions of enlightenment popularized in the Gita centuries later and for a while the castes were, in a sense, “job titles” that you applied for by proving your educational prowess. Ergo, a Brahmin could give birth to a Kshtraiya and vice versa. In the nature of most progressive systems of governing, and a behavior reminiscent in many south asian parents today, Brahmin parents wanted to raise Brahmin children and after a while the majority of the scholarly positions were politically excluded to a select group of last names who have lorded that around to this day. Then they started writing rules that weren’t congruent with any of the original philosophical theories of the Indus River Valley civilization…maybe you’ve heard of some of them…the Laws of Manu, for instance.

    I hope someone has heard something different, but those were the two theories my interminable list of academic sources centered around. It sounds plausible on a psychosocial level, but there are always pieces of stories you lose in oral tradition in one of the most ancient, mutable, and indefinable cultures in the world.

  23. Bored,

    Funny, you don’t seem bored! Why the scare quotes around “put the man on the moon”? You don’t think it happened? ;)

    You mentioned you’re Canadian, so some of your misperceptions about American race relations don’t surprise me. It’s the standard PC line. My counter: the abolitionist movement had a huge (indeed, critical) white component from the 1700s through the civil rights era of the 1950s-60s. I guess I don’t have to bring up Mill and Rousseau here since you already did, but yeah…

    Tying progress re the rights of the disabled and women to the black civil rights movement is nonsense — women’s opportunities and rights had been increasing all along and were set for a spike because techological innovation had drastically reduced the workload at home.

    Not saying that activists didn’t try to tie all these movements together, but let’s do the acid test: even if no African slaes had ever been brough to the states, we’d still have had the women’s movement and handicapped parking places.

  24. Th

    e invasions and battles between the two were documented in the Vedas that discussed, along with the Gita, the “fair” skin tone associated with the Aryan/Brahmins and the “dark” color associated with Indus/Untouchables.

    Can you give me the sloka number of the Gita that discusses this?

    I have the Gita right here and would like to look it up.

  25. Two other quick points Bored:

    –Give me some credit! I’ve known the word satyagraha since I was 10 years old (when “Gandhi” came out).

    –Not saying human behavior is 100% nature at all. But I’m no blank slater either! I come down at about 50-50 between nature and nurture. We’re not railcars on a set track, but we’re not James Bond-style jet backpacks, either. Maybe ATVs?

  26. Mistress of Spices,

    I can’t remember the shloka exactly (I am a serious ABCD, I end up reading translated Oxford Gitas…shame) but I found an excerpt from one of my sources:

    “Krishna teaches in the Gita that people are allocated to a specific varna according to two criteria, namely (1) guna (personal qualities) and (2) karma (aptitude for a type of work). He makes no mention of varna being determined by birth.”

    Sorry if I made it sound like Krishna believed it was by birth or skin color! The Aryan invasions weren’t documented in the Gita, either, that was, obviously, the massive war between Pandavas and Kauravas. You’ll be more likely to find reference to the skin tone/caste dichotomy in the Laws of Manu and perhaps a description of the Aryan culture and laws in the Vedas.

    Good luck and hopefully there’s a Gitaphiliac out there you can inform you of the proper translation and shloka better than I can. I only remember the overall message.

  27. I was confused coz it sounded like you were saying that the Gita discusses skin color.

  28. Haha yeah…sorry. I didn’t mean that. I was fitting too many concepts into one sentence.

  29. Plus the “aryan invasion theory” has been debatable now for decades.

    Supposedly there is no evidence to back up an “invasion”.

    Some type of migration and intermingling, maybe.

  30. It’s been rather obvious that this entire topic is hugely debatable. My paper was specifically about the effects of the caste system on discrimination and women’s rights so I didn’t look too much into the Aryan “invasions/intermingling”, but I was raised to believe it was intermingling and a fusion of Aryan beliefs and deities (Vishnu) and Harappan culture (comprised of Shiva and Brahma). However, every history class I’ve had in the United States (which discredits me to a lot of Indian scholars) has said that the ancient Indian culture was constantly being redefined and attacked by many different cultures, memorably the Aryans. These theories only applied to Northern India and Southern India, for the most part, remained untouched until centuries later. Even then, I don’t know what to believe anymore. I’ve read so many conflicting theories on the origins, that I go with the most frequently quoted. Even then, the debate is still valid. There’s a really, really good chance everyone has managed to hear something different. Culturally, none of us have ever managed to simultaneously worship the same gods or celebrate the same festivals, so we’re definitely going to accept our own renditions of our history.

  31. But equally undeniably true is that this harnessing of their brainpower was only possible because of a system of education, governance, and business set up over the previous several hundred years by Europeans, which is why the South and East Asians traveled across the world to get to it.

    Very funny. The astrological movements were clearly mapped long long time ago by Indians like Aryabhata, Bhaskara, Madhava and such. The Europeans came and destroyed these cultures. All the Europeans did was change the medium of instruction to “English”.

  32. Come on, MyTake. Even the Mayans had figured out astronomy, that’s obviously not what I’m talking about. I mean the scientific method, capitalism, representative government, the rights of individuals versus the state, etc.

    Granting that Europeans aren’t the only group that built the modern world in the past 600 years, let’s not have PC or ethnic pride demand that all groups contributed equally, see my comments to redheaded girl earlier.

  33. Come on, MyTake. Even the Mayans had figured out astronomy, that’s obviously not what I’m talking about. I mean the scientific method, capitalism, representative government, the rights of individuals versus the state, etc.

    Yes at the expense of who?. The blacks, other countries providing tax, resources and such. All these “scientific method, capitalism, representative government, the rights of individuals versus the state, etc” were available only for the whites for a long time. And that was the reason.

  34. WG,

    The abolitionist movement and the civil rights movements are two very distinct phenomena. Read some of the opinions of blacks voiced by white abolitionists before you tie the civil rights movement of the 20th century to the abolitionist movement. Plenty of whites supported abolition who thought blacks were inferior, feared miscegenation, thought them unworthy of the franchise, docile, simple-minded etc. Abolition was not about civil rights, which are only applicable to those who are considered human beings in the first place. Blacks were considered chattel, and abolition was about changing their status.

    As for a ‘technology spike reducing the workload at home’ being a necessary cause of women’s rights, that’s bunkum; if it were true, plenty of middle eastern countries should have equal rights for women by now. Besides which, the leisure classes, even the middle classes, in Europe and the States, enjoyed enough cheap labour (as in India at the moment)in the 19th century to make this justification for the subordination of women ridiculous. Even in the 50s, the vast majority of women still preferred to marry early, have kids and avoid a career (take a look at the Feminine Mystique). What changed the status of women was a change in social consciousness – and this change was very much part of a larger change concerning civil and human rights.

    If it hadn’t been for the black civil rights movement of the 20th century, which was the centre of this vortex of change, nothing would have prompted white patriarchy to temper its insatiable destructive domineering profit-seeking drive. If this were not the case, why no handicapped parking signs in the thirties? Why no large numbers of independent career women in the fifties? The technology ‘spike’ you referred to had already occurred, and so had abolition.

  35. If one does research into ancient cultures, both “civilized” such as Egypt and Bharat, and the “tribal” cultures that flourished in the past around Egypt and Bharat, as well as other places in the world, and some that still survive today, you find evidence of some forms of capitalism, representative government, the rights of individuals versus the state, and more, yada, yada, yada.

    And all of these things, which some think are close to perfection itself, all have some negative attributes to, as does everything in this world.

    It’s not that the whole world was in complete ignorance before the Euros took over.

    Brits (do they count as Euros?), were living barbarically compared to their eastern counterparts, and you can read accounts of MUSLIMS (arab and persians) writing to the effect that they were living without any advanced mathematics or technology until the ROMANS invaded Britain. OK, Romans are euros, but Brits were WHITER.

    Then after the Brits got “civilized”, they started to dominate.

    Even the Greeks, considered the “root” of Western Civilization, got most of their knowledge from the ancient Egyptians who were BLACK – AfroAsiatics.

  36. Maya is an Indian name that is quite common in the US. I know several who are not Indian and it’s definitely not Anglo-Saxon or biblical.
    Maybe because it’s one of the leading brands of “curry” paste available? Just guessing – haven’t been around here long enough to be able to understand just why.

    Maya’s not just an Indian name in origin. It’s also Polish (Maja), Bulgarian, Jewish (from the Hebrew “mayim,” or water), and a corruption of “Maia”, a Greek and Roman goddess. So that might explain why so many non-desi girls are cropping up with the name.

    In general, I’ve found this conversation a little confusing. One minute, commenters were picking on people who didn’t even try to pronounce their names, but instead used Anglicized nicknames; the next, commenters were complaining about people who tried to pronounce their names but failed miserably. That sounds like a lose-lose situation for all the non-desis. Oh, forget the non-desis: do you want to know how many times I’ve mispronounced south Indian names?

    And as for the harping about non-desis picking desi names for their kids — c’mon, everyone. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, or, in other words, you can’t expect your name to be accepted as American without accepting the fact that if the name is accepted, it will also be admired and perhaps used by other Americans who are exposed to it.

    As for the second half of the comments here… sheesh. No comment!

  37. I used to think these issues concerning names were a burden only for us brown people. But then I learned that Senator Barack Obama of Illinois is in a similar predicament.<<

    Barack Obama isn’t brown?

    Sowhat fasted on Ramadan. As if that’s “african core culture”!!!<<

    Millions of Africans are muslim, which islamic histories going back centuries with majority muslim countries. That is core African culture for them.

    They’ve had to deal with some Desis who have chosen to resist integration as much as possible. They’ve had to contend with a successful dark-skinned minority (which holds a lot of psychological resonance given the history of this country). In many ways, South Asians represent a very problematic immigrant group, at least from the perspective of “national culture”-oriented culture critics. And yet the process has been much smoother than it could be.<<

    Did they really resist immigration or were they refused entry by white people? And honestly, I think so many were upper-caste people in India, so close to white in their own minds, that they couldn’t imagine having to be integrated. How could they fight against the people they idolized and thought they were already just like? Whites in America don’t any problem dealing with people who fall right in line with the idea of lighter as better, darker as lower, and who wouldn’t exert any political will or social thought to the contrary. As in South Africa, Fiji, Kenya, Uganda, etc. as long the system worked that way, many had little problem with it. So of course, for whites who want to maintain the status-quo, they are perfect. And if you will change your name to Rebecca, and if you really are as ‘fair’ as your ad says, then even better. You can’t compare them to people who had to ‘misbehave’ to escape slavery, fight jim crowism, the KKK, the white citizens council and well people like the one who made the quoted comment.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. was a highly educated, high IQ’d man, and even he wasn’t counted as a ‘model citizen’ by white people. And if he didn’t misbehave, just what would this country be like? Let’s look for the ‘model minority’ who makes that kind of impact on this country.

    Let’s talk about that unsuccessful darks-skinned minority? What one would that be? One that survived hundreds of years of slavery? One that fought from being labeled as property to being equal in the eyes of the law? One that gave meaning, through their struggle, to the very values America was supposed to have believed in from its very founding? Or a group that essentially tries to keep quiet and be mistaken for white? There is a very different situation for a few out of millions who go to another country, as compared to mass population of people who stayed, fought and struggled within the country that nearly decimated them. Perhaps you’d consider the masses of poor, uneducated, suffering people in India in your equations of racial abilities.

    Perhaps because Indians still haven’t dealt with their own racist/caste ideas (even that minority of the Indian population those HIGH IQ folks who fled to America)they couldn’t have even begun to fight a struggle for civil rights in the US. If African-Americans hadn’t fought that battle beforehand, many Indians would have simply accepted their place in the caste system. Were many Indians who immigrated to South Africa during apartheid simply enjoying being ‘brown not black’ or did any substantial number of them participate in a struggle to get rid of that evil system?

    I notice that you ignore the giant ‘racial leap’ between whites and blacks in America – as though ‘American Culture’ were something exclusively built by whites. What cave have you been living in? You also ignore the fact that, up until a few decades ago, ‘mainstream’ America would have considered itself racially distinct from Jewish America. Two racial leaps already traversed by ‘American culture’.<<

    The big problem there is that many people don’t know solid details about American society/history before the point they or their parents arrived in the US. Maybe they know the abstracts of history, but somehow they have avoided learning about a lot of the social realities that created the society today. I think many writing known very very little about the Civil Rights Movement, the Reconstruction, Slavery/Antebellum times. And whatever they do believe they know, is shaped by a lot of racial/caste/ethnicity/class biases.

    And while of course there were white abolitionists in the early years, and during MLK’s time, there is a tendency to revise this numbers upward. It is partly a way to pretend that blacks didn’t struggle for themselves and to exonerate people who hate to admit the comparatively small numbers of white people in the abolition/civil rights movements. And of course, most people don’t know anything about civil rights except Martin Luther King, Jr. maybe Rosa Parks, that they don’t know just how much of a black led movement these efforts were. Accept it, black people fought hard, and most white people were apathetic or actively racist. Hard to accept, but true.

    A most wonderful text to read, is Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. If African-Americans gave the US anything, (besides Jazz :-) it is a stronger semblance to the idea of ‘freedom’ that most in this world have seen through their own efforts in their own countries of origin.

    By the way, why so heavy on the stereotypes of blacks are poor, uneducated, living in ghettos, etc? I imagine there are far more Indians living in slums in india, than african-americans living in ghettos in the US. I could move to France, enjoy the life, doesn’t mean I contributed to building the nation. It isn’t like the US needs more racists, even with High IQ’s. Why all the unfamiliarity with black people unless you just try really hard to see only the stereotypes in your head?

    Truthseeker, your points are excellent, but they are falling on caste-bound ears and eyes.

    Generally speaking, Indians are considered “white” in America. By white I mean for the most part they live in middle to upper middle (or just plain filthy rich) suburban neighborhoods and hold jobs like doctors, engineers, lawyers, etc that are considered primarily “white occupations”.<<

    I guess the poor and uneducated indians (millions and millions and millions) were left behind in India? Lucky for your stereotype. Funny, I see lots of indians who aren’t filthy rich, but maybe they aren’t consider indian then, maybe they are guyanese or trinidadian :-) Doctors, Engineers and Lawyers are consider primarily white occupations? Is this 2006 or 1906?

    Dilettante says:

    It is disheartening to see that you feel the only way you are seen as somebody of worth is to declare yourself as “white.” Seems contradictory to what you said earlier. I would have thought that your great occupation, nice home, Ivy league education, filthy riches would have given you more a sense of self worth than attempting to bridge a racial gap that white guy has “scientifically” proven exists. It’s cool that you do avoid “the HOOD”- the people there probably won’t be upset if you don’t open another much needed liquor store on the corner. And while it might offend white guy to know that he is the second best choice for inclusion in your social circle or as a a marriage partner- it won’t come as a shock in the HOOD- recent episodes of ER not notwithstanding. <<

    Sheesh, that was way too much truth in one paragraph. You had to have hurt somebody.

  38. Dawkins would explain that future doctors who choose to emigrate do so in large part because the increased $$ they get enhances their DNA’s fitness, improving the odds it’ll move on to the next round of life.

    Hogwash. They expose their DNA to mixing with an alien race, they work hard to keep the alien race alive and breed more, while their own race desperately needs their services. All these points show that your thesis far from being “almost a law” is nothing but ignorant baloney that has little touch with reality. Its greed not DNA continuity that has motivated these desi doctors. In fact they have risked the integrity of their “racial” DNA by leaving India. They could have easily survived in India and preserved their genetic purity by staying there.

    Re the tribes in Iraq, “genes have no say in this murderous conflict” — on the contrary, genes have almost everything to do with it! Again, you’re citing an instance of two members of the same group fighting as proof that genes have no say in the conflict. But ~50% of Iraqis marry a first or second cousin, and as a result their clans/tribes/extended families are tight.

    Just as I suspected, you have no clue what the conflict in Iraq is all about. It is not a tribal conflict, it is a sectarian conflict similar to the protestant-catholic one that devastated Europe some centuries ago. Sectarianism has nothing to do with genetics, in case you didnt know.

    Well, what happened after 1991 when the USSR fell? The blond Russians who lived in the Muslim provinces (or even the Baltics) hightailed it back to mother Russia. Why? Ethnicity. Ideology isn’t enough to bind a country together. The Koreas will reunify, as the Germanys did, as Vietnam did, ethnic lines in all three cases trumping ideology.

    Firstly there are many blond russians still living in the central asian republics, and many central asian people still living in Russia. Secondly, the very fact that Germany, Korea, Vietnam were divided along ideological lines shows your thesis is far from being “almost a law”. The mind trumps matter. And science knows precious little about the mind and consciousness.

    The idea that Africans and Native Americans contributed equally to Europeans in creating the civilaztion that put a man on the moon is just P.C. nonsense.

    Similar to the racist white lies that claim whites created the Vedic Civilization of India or the Ancient Egyptian Civilization of Africa and so on. Europeans could not have put a man on the moon without the alphabet, decimal numeral system, algebra, gunpowder, paper and printing etc which all came from non-europeans. You were taught how to read, write and count by non-europeans.

    All of the world’s main religions originated outside Europe. Spirituality is a higher truth than science, and in this field europeans are the most backward race of all.

    And until just a few centuries ago the Far East and the muslim world were ahead of Europe in technology and military power. And a few centuries before that northern europeans were illiterate, backward barbarians whose doomed religion involved human sacrifice and cannibalism.

    even the top 10 colleges in the country still have to lower their standards drastically to get to 8% black (Harvard’s annual quota).

    Harvard and other elite institutions in America used to have a quota to keep out better-qualified jews not so long ago. Today jews and asians are over-represented in America’s top colleges, while euros, afros and hispanics are under-represented. Meritocracy hurts white americans as well. It wont be long before whites start demanding affirmative action. Here’s something relevant from someone you probably admire, Pat Buchanan:

    http://buchanan.org/blog/?p=280

    The percentages of black and Hispanic students at Harvard (7 percent and 8 percent) are approaching their shares of the population, wrote Unz, and the percentages of Asian and Jewish students (20 percent and 25-33 percent) far exceed their shares of the population (3 percent and 2.5 percent).

    When foreign students and the children of alumni and faculty are factored in, only 25 percent of all slots at Harvard, wrote Unz, remain for that 75 percent of America that is non-Jewish white. Catholic ethnics and white Protestants are being crowded out of the Ivy League.

    When I suggested that it might be time for Euro-Americans to demand affirmative action, the usual suspects answered with the usual invective. One letter writer, however, put a human face on the forgotten victims of Ivy League bigotry — an Italian American face.

    Wrote A. Kenneth Ciongoli, president of the National Italian American Foundation, “Euro-Catholics, the American middle class, have paid the price … of affirmative action, while the establishment perpetrators have hypocritically protected themselves. … Italian Americans, 8 percent of America’s population, are 3 percent of Ivy League student bodies and less than 1 percent of the faculties.”

    Long ago, Catholics and Jews were looked on with suspicion by a WASP-dominated Ivy League. Jewish Americans seem to have overcome the prejudice. Catholic ethnics, if Ciongoli is right, never did. Why not? If discrimination does not explain these lopsided numbers, what does?

    Funny to see whites crying discrimination now. When jews, asians, blacks and hispanics were being discriminated against, it was all hunky dory. Jews and asians (mostly east asians) earn their seats at Harvard meritocratically and snap up around half of all available. Which means that even without affirmative action euro-americans who constitute around 2/3 of the american population would still be underrepresented at Harvard. Buchanan would still be whining about discrimination.

    So whats the deal with the under-performing italian-americans? Arent they supposed to have high IQs? And how are other euro ethnics such as irish, polish, german americans doing? They are all underrepresented it seems.

  39. A most wonderful movie to watch is “Something the Lord Made” the story of Vivien Thomas. Notice how the white doctor used his skill, but wanted to deny him credit. It wasn’t the first time (or the last time) for a african-american person’s name to be obscured by history, while a white person benefits from racism and takes credit for their achievements. Society wasn’t kind to a black person with such skills, and many had to second themselves to a white person of equal or lesser talent than they, just in order to work in their field of choice. Lewis Howard Latimer worked for both Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison – both depended on his skills and both knew he was only “dependent” on them because of racism.

    I think the story of Vivien Thomas dramatically shows the impact of racism on someone who wasn’t part of that ‘model minority’ but one who certainly paved the way for those who came later, be they black or brown. But a lot of so called ‘brown’ folk don’t know these facts, and unfortunately a lot of black ones don’t either. It is so easy to be disdainful of a population of people that only see through twisted notions of american history, ‘insight’ from equally biased white americans, and a caste consciousness that reinforces only the negative.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivien_Thomas

    http://www.hbo.com/films/stlm/

  40. I am amazed by the extent of white triumphalism all around these days. There is no question that the 16th-20th century rise in human knowledge was largely the result of European inquiry, built on the foundations of earlier achievements in a variety of human civilizations. But so what? Are the white triumphalists delusional enough to believe that it will last forever? If history is any guide, it most certainly will not. And future ethnic supremacists will deride and trivialize white achievements just as much as whites do the achievements of other cultures today.

    The wheel of karma grinds on and on and on….

  41. Nicole,

    Why are you turning on desis and recent immigrants and accusing them of ignorance of the Black civil rights movement??? I am of desi origin and was DEFENDING the contributions made by Black America to American culture – as I have done through this thread. It was whiteguy who starting talking about low IQs and who dismissed contributions made by Black America. I notice you do not attack him? Why not? How dare you assume that because I am of desi origin that I am ignorant of the obstacles faced by Blacks? I have read extensively on this subject, and you will notice that I am THE ONE WHO DREW THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE WHITE-LED ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT and THE BLACK-LED CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

    Examine your own racist preconceptions before you blanket others with them. You’re as ignorant as WhiteGuy.

  42. And not to mention how during segregation when black owned and operated business were flourishing, they often got burned down to the ground by the KKK.

  43. I am WAY too jaded to care about white guy. I don’t believe in arguing with such people any more than I believe in arguing with a snake to make it stop slithering across the ground. It would only be surprising if the snake walked upright and if the the white guy didn’t quote empty ‘studies’ about blacks having lower IQ’s, no contribution to America, civilization, etc. Don’t mistake my comparative lack of attentiveness to white guy for anything other than what it is.

    An essential component of this racism is a hierarchy that places white people above everyone else, as a focal point. Non-white people are constantly competing with each other about who is ‘closer’ to white, who is more ‘favored’ by white people, who gets the crown of model minority from, most non-threatening to, most attractive to, most respected by, white people. We are also competing with each other to convince white people to give our individual group their acceptance. We have various appeals — like us because we have almost your skin color, like us because we earn lots of money, like us because we are smart, like us because we are the same nationality as you, like us because we are not going to protest against you, like us because we don’t like the skin color, hair texture, culture, language, etc. of THOSE other non-white people. Even if we despise them, somehow the standard behavior still makes us want to convince them.

    Well, I’ll pass on that urge. Maybe I think a big part of resisting racists is not making what they think and feel, such a priority. Maybe I care more about what Desi’s, Africans, Arabs, Mexicans, Chinese, etc. think? What if we stop bashing each other’s brains to be ‘number 2′ in a system that is against all of us.

    And as to the IQ issue – a person who’d argue race/IQ is obviously not the brightest bulb on that racial string of lights. The “intellectuals” that generate those ‘studies’ rarely step up to defend them, because they can’t. They are either small samplings with so many obviously contradictory variables, predictive factors, etc. that beyond giving practice and publishing credits to some academics, they are useless. They can’t stand up to scientific inquiry which is why you can’t find them used in any substantive way.

    Only those lacking intelligence to understand this, go on to incorporate the phrases and conclusions they like into their conversations. It was nice touch to make the concessions on Asians having higher IQ’s, as a proof of being willing to accept the ‘truth’ even if it doesn’t favor him.

    Argue about the study? Why? That’s a rookie mistake. MY questions begin with, if Asian have higher IQ’s then whites, then does white guy then believe that Asian people are better than white people? So the european colonization of Asian countries would have been an inferior culture attacking a superior one, and current foreign policies should favor the scientific realities? Does that mean that if he and an Asian person are vying for the same job, that obviously the favor should go to the Asian person? Does it mean that as a white man, he naturally defers to Asian people when it comes to their innate higher IQ?

    Does it mean that he is okay with Asian people who look down on him because he is white, and obviously ‘statistically’ of lower intelligence than they are? In an academic situation/workplace, in the US/West or Asia, would he feel it okay if he were judged based upon such ‘science?’ If Asians have higher IQ’s, why is he as a white man in a position to judge them ‘model minority’ or not, and why discuss the issue of white people accepting them with regard to their skin color and US history? Shouldn’t the discussion be about how white people, with their lower IQ’s, find it hard to interact with people of Higher IQ’s, and wouldn’t it be the subordinate intelligence level of whites making assimilation problematic? Shouldn’t non-model minorities (black people) pattern themselves after Asians (of course, in this context it wouldn’t mean patterning themselves after passive minorities eager to please and be acceptable to/accepted by white people, this would be patterning themselves after non-white people who are smarter and know they are smarter than white people).

    Of course, crackpot guy doesn’t think any of this. Sure, crackpot may have asian-phile on a superficial level (maybe he has a wife, girlfriend, boyfriend), may want to flatter Asians with the commentary and reinforce his view of the racial hierarchy. But that racial hierarchy is still clear in his head. White people don’t have to have higher IQ’s than Asian people, because they are WHITE and that’s just good enough. See the inherent bit of racism for such folks is that they can be practically illiterate, but they will still manage to explain why black people are uneducated. They can be working side-by-side with a black colleague who excels at her job, but black people are lazy. Facts don’t matter, anything positive about black people is an exception, anything negative is the rule.

    Exceeding bitter about the affront black people have made in not quietly accepting their inferiority, and time and time again exhibiting that rejection by using the laws of OUR country to back them up, such white people LOVE a ‘model minority’ that knows their place. One that, regardless of financial or academic success, will rarely deviate from worshipping white people as the ‘gold standard’ upon which to model themselves. Most Black people, with all the inherited trauma, conflicts, etc. from their harsh experience in the US, are just gully (look it up) enough to be brought here as slaves hundreds of years ago, but STILL make you call us AFRICAN-American and BLACK-American. Not only are we not voluntarily giving up our identity to please white people. Change our names, name our children to make it easier for you to pronounce, accept? Uhm, no. How about this, our mother’s name was Mary, our name WAS Alice, but we our changing our name to AshantiMphlo! and naming our child Xeretha. Yeah, white people who are essentially concerned with maintaining hierarchy that favors them, aren’t going to call these folks a model minority. It isn’t about crime — that’s a whole issue itself about poverty, disenfranchisement, the impact of marginalization, racial terrorism and attempts at assimilation that neglected to question the value of assimilating into a mindset of disdain and hate for black people (and how it would destroy communities, rather than improve them).

    This really isn’t a big mystery for most black people, educated or not. Granted, not everyone upholds the banner, but there is no big shock. Hence, Dilettante’s astute observation that black people ‘in the hood’ aren’t going to be surprised that Desi’s don’t want to want to live with them, and that they overall prefer white people to black people. We all know that it isn’t about education, culture, income level, etc. It is about skin color and a caste system that you have in mind before you meet any of us. The most ‘uneducated’ of us know it intuitively because we’ve lived in a society built on it, and the more ‘educated’ of us know the cultural terms for it, hear what you say, what you write, see how you (don’t) interact with us when we share classes and workplaces as classmates, colleagues, equals even when you don’t believe it to be so.

    There are many African-Americans who anticipate your racism and respond in advance, but most normal folk would respond with a consciousness that dwarfs the best attempts of “educated desi’s” to be non-racists towards them. I do understand their feelings about being demeaned by everyone who steps into this country ‘just because’ it seems the thing to do to prove your loyalty and gratefulness towards white people. However, no rant of mine can be equal to the viciousness with which I criticize African-Americans who show disdain for desi’s, arabs, africans from the continent, etc. I guess I expect them, above all, not to be that way. That’s the black man’s burden.

    However, I actually wasn’t thinking particularly of you with my comments (I don’t know you so that made it even harder to particularly think of you. Keep in mind the phrases of ‘many’ and ‘most’ and ‘some’ — they are really important. Was there some typo that made you think I was specifically thinking of you? Sorry if you thought I was targeting positive mindsets, instead of ignorant ones.

    Child of a recent immigrant and of a somewhat mixed family background, I don’t have blanket statements but instead spoke to a particular stream of attitude. I actually do think the attitude I mentioned is more prevalent than not. You absolutely know that your attitude is not the common opinion. It isn’t even the common one on this website and in this particular thread of conversation. That’s the sad (and irritating) factor for me. While I am can be extremely disgusted by and highly critical of the racism of desi’s – in the very same way I can be extremely disgusted by some black people, native spanish-speaking people, asian people, arab people, etc. I can’t muster up the same feelings towards them. Sometimes we you are fondest, closest, most concerned about someone, you are most emotive and vocal towards them, for better or for worse.

    It is really easy to ask questions, make comments, that disturb the status quo. Since essentially, the main part of that status quo is NOT to question already established ‘values.’ It would be great that you are so adamant in defending black people not just against white racism, but desi racism as well. And not just those outrageous racist statements, but the seemingly subtle ones — the ones that are really only subtle to people who are used to them and who don’t need many words to invoke the agreed upon ‘spirit’ of the belief. In this way, you’d take my comments as attacks on the attitudes, not on the community as a whole. My background exposes me to a lot, and at the same time disarms any reaction I’d have to pretend such things don’t exist.

  44. What’s the big deal with who comes out on top or bottom of I.Q. tests?

    It’s not a test of one’s overall worth as a human being, or even a test of one’s overall intelligence.

    It’s a limited test that tests limitedly.

  45. ^CO-f***ing-SIGN!

    You’ve said everything I could have ever wanted to say about this topic.