“…given up hiding and started to fight”

October 31, 1984

“Mummy, Daddy can I dress up for Halloween this year?”

“No.  You are not allowed to participate in this ritual begging for candy.”

“Daddy, I meant for school…we’re supposed to…”

He eyed me suspiciously.  “I thought fifth grade would mean the end of such nonsense, but if you are supposed to…what do you need to wear”

I had thought about this.  Based on what the popular girls were last year, I decided…“I want to be a cheerleader!”

“Absolutely not.  Those skirts are indecent.”

“Caroline Auntie was a cheerleader!”

“In college.  When you’re in college, I’ll forbid you then, too.”

Nine-year old me promptly burst in to tears.  Later, my mother came to my room and helped me match a v-neck sweater from my old Catholic school uniform with a pleated skirt I usually wore to church—i.e. one which went to the middle of my knee.  She unpacked a box in my closet and wordlessly handed me my toy pom-poms.  My six-year old sister glared at her indignantly, so Mom rolled her eyes and did the same for her.  I was so excited.  Finally, a “cool” costume, one which didn’t involve an uncomfortable, weird-looking plastic mask to secure with an elastic band, from a pre-packaged ensemble.  I went to sleep feeling giddy.

The next morning, for the first time ever, I was tardy for school.  I don’t remember why, but I was.  When I walked in to class just before recess, everyone froze and stared at me.  The hopeful smile on my face dissolved; this year, the popular girls were all babies in cutesy pajamas with pacifiers around their necks.  I thought the weirdness in the air was due to my lame costume, but within a few minutes I discovered it was caused by something else entirely. 

The moment the bell rang, my desk was surrounded.  This couldn’t be good.  Was I going to get locked in a closet or a bathroom again? 

“Why are you here?”
“Yeah, we thought you weren’t coming.”
“Shouldn’t you be at home crying?”
“Mrs.  Doyle said you wouldn’t come in today.”

The questions assaulted me one after the other.  I was baffled. 

"Why…would…Mrs. Doyle say that?” I stammered.

“DUH, because Gandhi’s daughter got killed.”
“Isn’t she like your queen or something?  Or a Hindu God?”
“No you buttheads, she’s like the president of her country.”

At the end of the last sentence, the boy speaking gestured towards me.  When did they get so enlightened?  Last week, they asked if I was Cherokee and said “How” whenever I walked by, or pantomimed yowling war cries with their hands and mouth.

“She’s not the president of my country.  I’m…I’m from this country.  My president is Ronald Reagan.”

They got impatient and vaguely hostile.

“No, you’re Indian.  Mrs. Doyle said you were in mourning.”
“Did you not like her or something, is that why you don’t care?”
“I heard they dip her in milk before they burn her up.”
“Duh…that’s because they worship cows.”

I put my head down on my desk, as if we were playing “heads up, seven up”.   

“See?  She’s crying now…she is Indian.”

And with that they walked off, to do whatever it was that popular fifth-graders did.

::

Spring 1987.

I was sitting by myself (as usual…it’s always awesome to transfer to a K-8 school in the seventh grade, when no one is interested in making new friends with some outsider), reading something from the “The Babysitters Club”, pretending I was Mary Anne Spier.

“Hey ugly girl…”

I looked up to see a tall 8th grader whom every girl was crushing on…he was standing with his best friend, who elbowed him and muttered, “ask her!”

“Weren’t you supposed to be aborted?

I was horrified and confused.  Horrified because these people never talked to me, confused because…

“You know, since you’re like…a Hindu and we just learned that they only like to have sons.  So we were wondering if your parents wished they had aborted you. You should ask.”

The sidekick started guffawing and both of them ran off.  I sat there, my book still page-down in my lap, unable to read for the rest of recess.  I wished I could go home.

Four hours later…

“Where is your sister?  What is she up to?  I haven’t heard any noise.”

“I dunno…reading the dictionary or something nerdy”. 

I realized my father was headed to the dining room, which is where he left the huge, so-heavy-I-couldn’t-lift-it Webster’s dictionary open for me, so he wouldn’t have to constantly retrieve it from the shelf.  I slapped half the book over, to obscure what I had been looking at…

“What are you doing?  Why did you just do that?  What are you hiding?”

“Um, nothing.”

I tried to slip my finger out from the page I was trying to bookmark, but he was too quick.  The pages flipped back to “A”.

“ABORTION?  You are looking at ABORTION?  Oh my God, why did I sacrifice and struggle and come to this country, so my 12-year old daughter could be impregnated?  Were you raped?  Did someone do something to you? WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT THAT WORD!”

I actually didn’t know what “raped” meant, either.  My parents hadn’t explained anything like that to me yet.  I was still playing with Barbie and sleeping with my stuffed Persian cat; they saw no need.  I made a mental note to look up “rape”.

My mother came running, “What is this?”

“She is looking at ABORTION!”

“Why?”

“Was I supposed to be aborted?”

My parents faces fell slack from astonishment.

My Mother looked at my Father, then me.  “Why…would…you…ask…such a thing?”

“Some kids at school asked me to ask you if you wished you had aborted me.  I didn’t know what that meant…”

My Father walked away.  My Mother came up to me, looked me in the eye and said, “No.  We did not wish that.  Your Father was very excited, in fact, he always said he hoped you would turn out to be a girl and he was so happy you did.”

My Mother seemed sad.  “You don’t like your new school, do you?”

I shook my head, no.

::

Fall 1989.

“Class, today we are going to do something a bit different—we’re going to look at Catholicism’s impact on the world.”

I tried not to smirk as I recalled my Father’s rants about how Catholicism destroyed things and was rather evil.   

“We’re going to start with India, which is where Anna is from!”

Uh…

“One of the most visible Catholics in the world has chosen India, to serve.  Mother Theresa uses her faith to care for the filthy, the neglected, the unfortunate…”

Oh, sweet Jesus.

“…let’s start our discussion by asking our Indian student more!”

“Um, I’m American.”

“Yes, dear.  But you’re Indian.  What’s India like?”

“I’m just saying, I was born here, so I don’t really know—“

“Now, let’s not fib…I now for a fact you just came back from your country.”

“Well…um…yes, but it’s my parents’ country…no, wait, even they are American citizens.” 

The nun was getting impatient. “May I remind you that discussion counts for your participation grade?  Now would you like to add something constructive to this conversation?”

“Uh…sure.  Well, I did just get back from India.  I had not visited it since I was five, so I learned a lot.”  The nun nodded, with an encouraging smile.

“And tell us about the poverty you saw, the contrasts with America.”

“I…didn’t see poverty really…”

“Calcutta is very impoverished!  How is that possible?”

“I went to Kerala.  I’ve never been to Calcutta.  I’m from South India.  I went to where my parents are from and visited their families.  And Kerala is lush and green and so pretty.  The people are all really smart and the museum I went to—“

“How far is Careluh from Calcutta?”

“It’s really far.”

“So far that you didn’t see beggars?”

“I saw a few…”

“JUST a few?”

“No more than I see when I visit San Francisco.”

“That’s it young lady.  I will not tolerate your smart-aleck behavior.  To the principal’s office you will go and you’ll have detention, later.”

“But I didn’t…”

“Would you like me to double your punishment?”

I nodded miserably and walked out, reaching in to my backpack for my headphones.  Reel Life’s “Send Me an Angel” accompanied me as I dawdled on my way to the office. 

::

I thought of all of those moments, yesterday.  I’ll get to why in a mere moment. 

Besides my younger sibling, I was the only Indian kid at all of my schools except for the last one I cited. Obviously, my little sister did not accompany me to high school, but there was one other Indian girl there. Unfortunately, she wanted nothing to do with  me, because she couldn’t relate to me; she told me I wasn’t Indian enough, that I was white-washed. 

I was South Indian and Christian, I didn’t do garba or understand what she was talking about when she asked me about whether I preferred Salwars to lenghas–in fact, I didn’t even know what a lengha was…just like I was clueless about which Bollywood actor I should have a crush on. Once she realized that I had no experience with such things, she decided she had no use for me.  We didn’t speak, despite sitting next to each other, in home room.

This is now a well-known tale, this trial-by-ignorance which older 1.5/second gens went through.  I am amazed and relieved when I understand that things will never be that brutal for generation 3, not in this world where the internet sates curiosity while dissolving international borders and knitting us all together via the web. 

India is no longer so weird or foreign; today, people don’t eat monkey brains on the big screen. The little ABDs I’ve met recently who are nine, 12 and 14 are informed, empowered, righteous and sassy.  Once upon a time, if you had told me that girls in this country would wear lenghas and saris to their Junior Prom or in their Senior portrait, I would have thought you were a bad comedian.  I would have and did wear Gunne Sax, to both, way back in the early 90s.

::

I often say that I didn’t become a desi until my final year of college, which is when the ISA was allowed back on campus; nothing like “India Night” to give you a concentrated dose of culture. By the time I commenced my second semester of graduate school, in 2000, I had crossed over in to what felt like another realm—for the first time, the majority of my friends were brown. That was life-altering for a girl who lived through the three childhood situations I started this post with. The more people I met from abroad, the more I experienced, and the more I changed.

I had taken plenty of South Asian studies classes as an undergrad, but going to a hyper-International school like GW was like getting the practical experience to complement years of theory. Now, I have a rich, self-defined relationship with the subcontinent, a relationship which I’m so immersed in, it confuses and vaguely irritates my parent. She shakes her head when she catches me reading “Learn Malayalam in 30 days” or when she overhears me interrogating my cherished, fobulous friends about everything I don’t know (which is obviously a LOT).

The end result of all this is that though I’m not from India, now, I am of it. I love it, but not blindly. I celebrate it, but I don’t do so because of inherited jingoism. India is like a family member; I will bitch about it and worry and criticize…but heaven help someone else who attempts to do so in my presence. I know I have annoyed and even enraged some of you with some of my posts; some of you have accused me of being anti-India, when that is the furthest thing from reality. “I love my India”, I’ve written cheekily a few times at the Mutiny. Once, one of you pushed back; “What does that even mean? How is it YOURS?”

It’s mine because it just is, because I want it to be and also, because for my entire childhood, I felt like I was being thrown in to a deep well by my classmates, in an extreme act of othering. My sole company? No, not my Baby-sitters Club or Cheerleaders books—it was my ancestral country, which had been roughed up along side of me, before being tossed in the pit after me.

Once, when I couldn’t take the torment meted out to me, I burst in to tears in front of my Father and told him that I hated my uber-competitive, ultra-bitchy high school, where uniforms which were meant to equalize were an ineffective joke played on girls who didn’t have Dooney and Bourke backpacks, Gucci purses or polo players on their shirts and socks. I wailed that I was miserable, that I hated sticking out like the stench of patchouli in a room full of Chanel, that I didn’t fit in anywhere, especially with thick, long hair which reached the backs of my knees. “Where am I supposed to go? Where will people be nice to me?”

For once, instead of dismissing me or mocking me, he looked lost in thought, before he murmured, “India”.

Later that summer, we visited Ooty, another boarding school I can’t remember and two private high schools, one in Kottayam, the other in Cochin. Though I had hated India the first week I was there, after being terrorized by insects which looked like they had been imported from my nightmares, finding myself mired in a decades-old family feud and realizing, to my hostile resentment, that no, Indian girls did NOT have hair so long that they could sit on it, that I was the only naïve moron who lived up to that now passé ideal…I eventually calmed down.

Two weeks in to our two-month long trip, I was fluent again in my first language, Malayalam, and after my first month in Kerala, whatever resistance I felt to this strange new reality melted. I felt a peace I had never known before, because for the first time in my life, everyone looked like me, worshipped where I did and ate what I ate. I was enchanted and fine with staying; I daydreamed about waving to my father and sister at the airport in Madras, before being whisked back to Kerala by either my Dad’s elder brother or his beloved best friend.

My father realized that he couldn’t bear to leave me on the other side of the world, and that was the end of that. I returned to the U.S., to nuns who loathed non-Catholic, uncooperative me, to girls who yanked open my cardigan so that they could exclaim, “OMG, she’s still poor!” when they saw no logo prancing across my breast, to once again being exiled and alone. Daddy was troubled. Had he been selfish? “You know, you can always go to India. In a way, it will always be your home. If you are fed up…you could go back. You have that option. You are not rootless. I know you were happy, there…”

So, to me, India has always been synonymous with sanctuary. A naïve sentiment, I know, but also, a necessary fiction; it helped me survive.

How could I disparage my refuge, my roots? And could I stand by idly, when, on a popular blog, India was repeatedly tarnished?

::

Jezebel is part of Gawker’s online empire. Its tagline is Celebrity, Sex, Fashion. Without the airbrushing. When I stumbled upon it, it was love at first browse. It was smart, defiant and allergic to bullshit. It was fierce. For the first time, in many, many years, I felt like I had found the successor to Sassy, the legendary teen magazine which saved my sanity in a “YM” world. And who were these commenters?! These women who were righteous, bawdy, witty and often, hilarious? This was like the best of my sorority years, with none of the annoying idocratic declarations or pesky monthly dues. After weeks of lurking, I wanted to dive in this rollicking online hot tub…but there was one catch: you had to audition to comment!

Audition to become a commenter. To become a registered commenter on this site, you first need to be approved by our team. We’re looking for comments that are interesting, substantial or highly amusing. So write a comment, polish up your words and choose a username and password below. Your comment will only appear once (or if) you’re approved. Want to know more? Consult the Comment FAQ. [Jezebel]

I submitted my thoughts and then spent an anxious day or so wondering if I’d be deemed worthy; a few hours in to the weirdness, I realized exactly what it reminded me of—the end of sorority rush, when you make your choice and then sleeplessly wait for a bid. When my comment finally appeared on the site, I cackled triumphantly. YES! I was allowed in! I was a part of the coolest clique ever, the anti-clique, which called out anyone and everything. This was AWESOME.

Except…I started to see references to India, in their news roundups and then comments, which would inevitably refer back to the brown element of the post…and unlike the rest of the Jezebel experience…they were less than…fair. Sometimes, they were downright ignorant. Worse still, the female bloggers whom I had been crushing on pretty heavily seemed to not get it; sometimes, it seemed as if they were encouraging the ick. I have to tell you, it really did feel like being a teen all over again, right down to the confusion, the angst and the anticipation of exile.

Does that seem melodramatic ? It’s not, to me. I spend all my time here, at SM. Like a new, stay-at-home mother who is starved for “grown-up” conversation, i.e. that which does not involve poo or puking, I wanted more (and please, no stupid conflation of poo/puke/infancy with SM…sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar and a metaphor is, too.) Unfortunately, my source for what I had craved seemed less than welcoming.

And here’s where it gets all afterschool special; would I quietly observe the unfair digs at my “sanctuary” and remain mute, to protect my coveted place in that Jezebel-space? Or would I do what I was aching to—speak my mind, at the risk of alienating the popular and powerful? Yeah, you know how this turns out…

Indian actress Shilpa Shetty has been arrested at the Mumbai, India airport. Her crime? Obscenity. The act? Being the recipient of that overly demonstrative kidd on the cheek from Richard Gere. [Daily Mail] 12:45 PM ON THU SEP 27 2007 BY JENNIFER. 1,428 views
BY WARMAIDEN AT 09/27/07 12:58 PM This takes ‘blaming the victim’ to a whole ‘nother level. yay, India! (PS – Shouldn’t they be hanging those guys who drugged and raped the Japanese touristas?)
BY LOVESTOSMILE AT 09/27/07 01:03 PM My lord. I’m Indian and this is absolutely embarassing.
BY LOVESTOSMILE AT 09/27/07 01:11 PM As someone who’s Indian, I can say with all confidence that this is a matter of national shame.
BY ANDALUCíA AT 09/27/07 01:11 PM @LovesToSmile: I’m American. We won the Embarrassment Sweepstakes years ago.
BY RAINBOWBRITE AT 09/27/07 01:12 PM You’d think India would be trying to look a little more progressive these days. That “India at 60″ campaign is everywhere here in NY, but stories like this one don’t really help their tourism…
BY SARAHINSASK AT 09/27/07 01:13 PM What a disgusting, filthy crime. Right? Right? Clearly India has no heinous criminal at large than Shilpa Shetty.
BY AHWANNABE AT 09/27/07 01:14 PM lovely country we’re outsourcing work to.
BY HABIBI AT 09/27/07 01:16 PM Jennifer, fix the typo – India is spelled “India” and not “Indnia”. Since when is getting a kiss on the cheek a crime? The Indian government should be embarrassed by this.
BY ANNOYINGFEMALELEADVOICEOVER AT 09/27/07 01:16 PM She was let go as soon as the cops realized the charges had been turned over months ago. Not that this justifies the act, but for a heads up.
BY CHOCOLATECOFFEEBEANS AT 09/27/07 01:30 PMIt is things like this that make me completelly terrified to travel to the Middle East at all, even though I consider myself relatively well-travelled. This combined with stories of getting hands cut off for stealing (not that I would steal) or the weird rules about things like alcohol and women’s dress. I just know it would take me approximately 15 minutes before I broke a law or offended someone. No thanks.

BY SUITABLEGIRL AT 09/27/07 02:32 PM @ahwannabe: Yes, let’s bring outsourcing in to this, it’s obviously germane. One tiny reminder: we should also bring it up when Canada or Ireland or every other country we outsource to gets brought up in any context whatsoever– that way we’re consistent.

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She wasn’t arrested, she was detained by some idiot on a power trip (not rare in India). This is not a matter of national shame, not when there are a million worse problems in the subcontinent. Is it stupid? Yes. Should this have happened? No. But let’s not go overboard, even though it is *so* fun and satisfying to snark at those unenlightened, job-stealing misogynists.

BY SUITABLEGIRL AT 09/27/07 02:34 PM @CHOCOLATECOFFEEBEANS: Right, except India is not in the Middle East. And as flawed as it is, its hassles are a far cry from Saudi Arabia, which is what you’re comparing it to.
BY SPECTATERTOT AT 09/27/07 02:40 PM @LovesToSmile: ditto (on being indian and finding this embarassing)
BY CHOCOLATECOFFEEBEANS AT 09/27/07 03:32 PM Ya know, I realized what I had said right after I posted it. I do realize India is not the “Middle East” but as has been mentioned, it is the crazy mix of government and religion that is a common thread to a lot of these countries and I would just not feel comfortable, and would be terrified of doing something wrong.
BY NARYMARY AT 09/27/07 04:10 PM This is really sad. I hope nothing awful happens to her!
BY NIGERIENNE AT 09/27/07 04:34 PM Way to set India back more than the people of Dell.

BY AHWANNABE AT 09/27/07 05:18 PM @Suitablegirl: AFAIK, Canada and Ireland have human rights laws that are at least somewhat similar to the ones we have in the good ole USA, so if the fat cats want to oursource there because it’s cheaper, can’t argue with that.

What I take offense to is when our fat cats outsource jobs to countries where this kind of abuse is considered okay, when we have LAWS in place to prevent it from happening here. That is the height of hypocrisy, and yes I will continue to bring up the subject of outsourcing until I’m blue in the face, or people get a clue.

BY SFIKUS AT 09/27/07 06:41 PM @Suitablegirl: “She wasn’t arrested, she was detained by some idiot on a power trip (not rare in India). This is not a matter of national shame, not when there are a million worse problems in the subcontinent.”

- Were she not Shilpa Shetty, and considered a bit of a national treasure, she could have faced a whole trove of other pleasures reserved for women in India – acid, stoning, etc. Yes, after all the sabre rattling, she was let off easily, but I think much of her reported reaction was compounded by her knowledge of what _could_ have happened…

BY SUITABLEGIRL AT 01:40 AM

@narymary: I think she’ll be okay.

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@sfikus: Were she not Shilpa Shetty, Richard Gere wouldn’t have kissed her…I think it’s a bit much to call her a national treasure, but hey, I also think it’s a bit much to paint this dire, sensational picture of a country which has issues– just like other countries. The horror is everywhere, India doesn’t have a monopoly on it– to me, misogyny is global.

I’m bemused that I am now in this bizarre situation where I stick up for a country I normally criticize righteously.

Want to call India out on something? How about gender-selective abortions, that I’ll agree is an India-specific problem. But acid? Double standards about women who are public figures/tabloids rushing to fan flames? Pot, kettle. As for stoning, again, that’s more of a Taliban penalty for adultery, not an “Indian” one; my concern throughout this thread has been exactly that sort of conflation. India is by no means perfect– but it doesn’t deserve to be painted by such a broad, ugly brush.

“a whole trove of other pleasures reserved for women in India – acid, stoning, etc.”

I was drawn to this site because I loved the fierce women who were creative, free-thinkers…but I’m chagrined to see less thinking and more reacting here. India is a subcontinent, with an amazing range of cultures, traditions, people…my parents came from a state with a matrilineal tradition, but that’s not part of the “India” caricature, so no one knows or wants to acknowledge that. I get sad when I see intelligent, otherwise tolerant women engage in reductionist stereotyping which minimizes and demeans.

Sorry for the extra-long comment. I’m new here, I want to make sure I articulate my position well, because that’s how much I respect this space.

Sigh. My inner teen is currently vaguely miserable. I thought I had discovered this amazing group of girls to hang out with, every day (and you know how difficult that is to do after college!), but perhaps I was so desperate to belong, I didn’t consider the totality of what I was coveting. Worst of all, why were the other two brown Jezebels okay with this? Was I wrong to be hurt on behalf of a country I had never even lived in?

That’s what really bothered me– I was the only one who was not echoing the chorus and following the mood; the choice of the other two desis, to toe some stupid line was like NaCl in my wound. Now it REALLY felt like high school. Is this how it is? You have to kowtow to be welcome? Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t do that the first time I was required to, back in 1988. I’m supposed to find it within me to do so NOW, two decades later? Perhaps I’m wrong about my orientation and I’m not a Jezbian after all.

The prospect of that is depressing. As much as I love my sepia baby, it’s nice to get out and do more than mother (and smother). The last time I tried to get in to a sorority, I was surrounded by people who were often clueless and thus, unintentionally hurtful; at least at the DG house they were essentially oblivious, what hurts the most here is that these women are aware, that they know a little something about India. But it’s just like what my Mom always says (especially after meeting a patient who has become “empowered” with drug or other info via WebMD, who is helpfully clutching a printout of such): a little bit of knowledge can be very dangerous. For the first time, ever, I wonder if it’s better to be ignorant about some things.

445 thoughts on ““…given up hiding and started to fight”

  1. Manju, what do you mean socialism is an evil that’s killed thousands? I’ve said this before – There are so many variations of socialism. Many so-called socialist countries have a much better standard of living than the US and doesn’t infringe on what in the US we call our bill of rights.

    As US history has shown capitalism cannot alone trump age-old institutional prejudices. I’m not an expert on economics in the least, but I know enough about basic US history to know w/o govt regulation of monopolies, hiring practices, work conditions etc, we’d pretty much have a slave state.

    And socialism enslaving so many people? How about the US’s capitalist system in the days of slavery and before the government became involved in labor regulations. US capitalism killed millions of slaves, predominantly Af-Am, and Native Americans and thousands if not millions of blue collar workers who were exploited and women who were easily exploited too. Capitalism didn’t stem colonialism and as we are South Asians, millions of South Asians died in famines in colonial India. Capitalism w/o govt regulations, without socialist policies, leads to the same destruction as crazy dictatorships.

    Capitalism didn’t in and of itself allow you and other South Asians in this country, able to reap its benefits. The economic necessity of needing Third World professionals in this country did make a difference, but when our families came here, the reason why so many educated professionals can be successful in the US, has a lot to do with the fact, that once in the US, they had civil rights, they couldn’t be exploited (in theory), they could obtain citizenship and reap the benefits that their fellow white Americans could with their citizenship… and as for this,

    the goldman sachs model. don’t beg to make partner at anti-semetic morgan, start your own bank. don’t beg racist hollywood to include POC, go to bollywood. don’t beg to get accepted at the exclusive wasp club if they are racist. start your own club. don’t complain that bank lending policies discriminate against you. – I don’t think any of these things could happen without govt regulations again protecting people’s basics rights.

  2. a two pronged approach. minorities working to succeed in the white old-boys network, while not diminishing the role of racism, it’s current effects. I’m also for whites who are truly dedicated to anti-racism to actually teach their own, instead of piggybacking on people like cosby to diminish their own responsibility.

    jesus h. f. christ! after all that, you turn out just to be a mainsteam democrat.

  3. Manju, what’s inflammatory is ignoring the intent of my statement — that immigration policy disproportionately favors elites (which is true in the context of legalized immigration) in order to throw in an essentially made up number. The thing about undocumented immigration is that it’s UNDOCUMENTED. There are also really “well respected” studies that estimate undocumented migration at 10% of total migration to the U.S. So whose imaginary numbers are you going to use?

    “Truth”, which biased statistics are you referring to? The ones I cited from U.S. government agencies? And when did say that desis “deserve” to be hated on? Way to totally skew and misrepresent the conversation.

    Like I said, I am done with this topic. It’s jsut a pissing contest at this point and has nothing to do with a critical examination of anything. If anyone wants to take anything up with me, they are welcome to email.

  4. however, to prohibit the same dating pattern based simply on the fact that the potential partner in question belongs to a race that commits a disproprtionately higher number of violent crimes is racist, and ridiculous, even if it is ‘cliched.’

    What if you just don’t like their physical features? Isn’t that legitimate?

  5. 354 · Amitabh What if you just don’t like their physical features? Isn’t that legitimate?

    Yes, if you’re operating under classical liberal principles! no, if you’re going to go with some sort of “you’re not entitled to your preferences because they’e been socially constructed” view. So, not a decisive answer, but a good one given certain (reasonable) pre-commitments.

  6. “I’m also for whites who are truly dedicated to anti-racism to actually teach their own, instead of piggybacking on people like cosby to diminish their own responsibility.”

    a mainstream democrat will never utter this, at least as far as I know. but I don’t align with any parties, nor do I care what people clasify me as. I make decisions based on what I read observe and cogitate, like every sane human being should.

  7. the goldman sachs model. don’t beg to make partner at anti-semetic morgan, start your own bank.

    This is such a simplistic “commandment” I dont even know where to begin. GS began in 1869, how many blacks or hispanics or anything else were around then in the numbers to start up a bank? I’ll give you a hint, the answer is between -1 and 1. Also, these people ended up hiring their own family, via intermarriage. Also, the Jewish immigration pattern is far more concentrated in certain urban centers link where as other minority populatins are dispersed throughout. The jewish nation also had a notion of “jewishness” or commonblood, as they came voluntarily, and dont have legacy history of slavery and ghettoization. All this can’t be swept away with “start your own bank”

  8. never seem to give the benefit of the doubt to other minorities in this country…

    It’s classic American immigrant 101, sh*t on the blacks and hispanics, and you’ll be rewarded by the white/wasp majority for playing ball. Happened in the case of the Irish, Italian, Greek, Asian, and now Indian.

  9. Manju, darling.

    I regret to inform you that, on this thread, you are no longer the Unintentionally Funniest Commenter. Although you have consistently been on top as the Unintentionally Funniest Commenter on all HMF v Manju naked mud wrestling threads, the honor now belongs to Camille and her ridiculously funny email addy.

    Bwahahahah Camille. Love it!

  10. This is such a simplistic “commandment” I dont even know where to begin. GS began in 1869, how many blacks or hispanics or anything else were around then in the numbers to start up a bank? I’ll give you a hint, the answer is between -1 and 1. Also, these people ended up hiring their own family, via intermarriage. Also, the Jewish immigration pattern is far more concentrated in certain urban centers link where as other minority populatins are dispersed throughout. The jewish nation also had a notion of “jewishness” or commonblood, as they came voluntarily, and dont have legacy history of slavery and ghettoization. All this can’t be swept away with “start your own bank”

    GS began with like 5 people. They didn’t bank at first but rather brokered and traded something else (i forgot what) but eventually got into ibanking. the barrier to entry is rather low for ibanks as one doesn’t need much capital or physical infrastructure (as oppossed to consumer product).

    i bought up banking because of the munch hurled accusation of discrimination against blacks, of which i have no opinion other than to say if it is true there is a huge lending market out there ready to be exploited by clever entrepreneurs, hopefully black. i realize the barrier to entry for commercial banking is higher but it can be done.

    there have been a slew of start up c-banks in recent years, offering credit ot mid to low income people (i think capital one is one of the more famous ones). the whole subprime bank phenom is an example, and while their credit models may have turned out to be too enthusiastic (not unlike wall street internet analysts) a lot of poor people got access to credit they wouldn’t have had and that did more good than bad. when the smoke clear i think the industry will look a tad like IT.

    also, one of the most consistently minority-friendly industries happens to be sales (especially in insurance companies) because it is easy to measure merit (who made the most sales). so for those who don’t have the initiative to start their own biz this is a good alternative, not to mention franchises like 711s of which you cannot enter unless you have an indian accent.

    i will concede that immigrants, including poor illegals, are unusually successful in entrepreneurship b/c those who take the risk of leaving their home already display the risk tolerance and industriousness necessary to start ones own biz or work on commission.

  11. no von:

    do i amuse you? i’ll have you know i’m a deadly serious 3rd wave black power activist…as in those feminist waves…you know, like how now porn stars are considered feminist too (they call ‘em sex pozzies).

  12. i will concede that immigrants, including poor illegals, are unusually successful in entrepreneurship b/c those who take the risk of leaving their home already display the risk tolerance and industriousness necessary to start ones own biz or work on commission.

    I disagree. Immigrants usually come from countries where there is no safety net and you are pretty much on your own. No safety net in the immigrant’s old country stifle risk taking attitudes. The US on the other hand has a pretty comprehensive safety net system both at the private and government level. It is the safety net system which encourages people to take risks. So immigrants in general because of old attitudes might be more risk averse than natives.

  13. What safety net does an immigrant let alone a poor illegal immigrant have? Family, friends and relatives are the biggest safety net. And those he/she already left behind. The immigrant is on his/her own in a country like US where continuous income is necessary to survive. Abundance of work opportunties is the only safety net in America.

  14. Also, these people ended up hiring their own family, via intermarriage.

    I really think this is a point that can’t be hammered home hard enough. African-Americans are the only immigrant group I can think of where families were systematically and forcefully torn apart. Husbands were sold to different slaveowners than their wives; children were sold to different slaveowners than their parents. How do you develop and maintain any sense of identity when you are ripped away from all the links to your cultural past? When you are forbidden from even gaining literacy?

  15. African-Americans are the *only* immigrant group I can think of where families were systematically and forcefully torn apart. Husbands were sold to different slaveowners than their wives; children were sold to different slaveowners than their parents. How do you develop and maintain any sense of identity when you are ripped away from all the links to your cultural past? When you are forbidden from even gaining literacy?

    this is very true. but a half truth. despite this, a traditional black family emerged only to be torn apart by teenage pregancies (which // violent crime rates) all of which are an unforeseen consequence of liberal social policy (moynihan report) and larger cultural trends from clinton’s 60′s gen that disproportionately hurt blacks.

  16. this is very true. but a half truth. despite this, a traditional black family emerged only to be torn apart by teenage pregancies (which // violent crime rates) all of which are an unforeseen consequence of liberal social policy (moynihan report) and larger cultural trends from clinton’s 60′s gen that disproportionately hurt blacks.

    I disagree. Each individual is responsible for her/his own life and actions. I know plenty of down and out people who have struggled very hard against all odds but chose to commit and remain committed to one partner and parent children with them only at the appropriate time when such a child would be welcomed and cared for. This is the midst of a wider culture in which violence and promiscuity was and still is rampant. If I choose to have unprotected sex with an irresponsible man, who’s fault is it? Mine? The man’s? The President’s? The nation’s? The culture’s? The society’s?

    It’s mine.

    The blame game only serves to further disempower already disempowered people. When one realizes that one’s life is made by you and you alone, then that gives you alot of power to create the life you really want. Men can no longer “take advantage of” or “use” you. You call the shots. You can no longer give birth to an unwanted or unexpected child because you are in control of you all the time. It’s all really that simple.

  17. What if you just don’t like their physical features? Isn’t that legitimate?

    no, in the sense that it really only matters if your child is physically attracted to the person in question – and superficial as well as hypocritical, considering that the average person (desi or otherwise) prob. isn’t winning any beauty contests ;) if you’re excluding all black people b/c of physical features, that’s ridiculous for two reasons : 1. not everybody of the same race has the same features; 2. if it’s based on skin colour, then you would have to exclude a whole lots of desis and people of other races. my whole point is, it’s racist to reject an entire race when you are not considering the attributes of the particular individual in question.

    on a lighter note – i would be pretty amused to see a parent say out loud that they think their child’s partner is not good-looking enough – though i wouldn’t put anything past desi parents in this area ;)

  18. also, one of the most consistently minority-friendly industries happens to be sales (especially in insurance companies) because it is easy to measure merit (who made the most sales).

    Last month I represented a Saudi dude in an EEOC negotation with a National Bank. In his area, he was the number one performer in 8 of the last 16 months before he got fired and was never below the top 4 out of 24 people who were doing the same job. Got fired anyway for bull shit reasons.

    I dont think free market system (no government regulation) necessarily leads to lower discrimination. A market system based on meritocracy, with strong laws against discrimination combined with enforcement bite.

  19. If I choose to have unprotected sex with an irresponsible man, who’s fault is it? Mine? The man’s? The President’s? The nation’s? The culture’s? The society’s? It’s mine.

    That leaves out a whole lot of factors: Do you have access to reliable forms of birth control? Have you ever received sex education? (When I worked at Planned Parenthood, I met a LOT of pregnant teenagers who hadn’t.) Do you have accessible, affordable abortion available? Did you even consent to the sex?

    Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that many teenagers become pregnant deliberately, because they see it (naively) as a way to become grown up and achieve stability, something deeply lacking in many of their lives. If that’s the issue, all the blaming and all the birth control in the world won’t stop them from getting pregnant. That would take the availability of other options, something that does require large-scale social change.

    a traditional black family emerged only to be torn apart by teenage pregancies

    Violence is a lot more likely to tear a family apart than unwanted/unexpected pregnancies. It’s very common in the black community for grandparents and other family members to pitch in and help to raise a teen mother’s child, it’s not something that automatically tears a family apart without the emergence of other factors.

  20. i would be pretty amused to see a parent say out loud that they think their child’s partner is not good-looking enough – though i wouldn’t put anything past desi parents in this area ;)

    Good that you wouldn’t put it past them– I’ve heard such sentiments. Repeatedly and shamelessly. It ranks after success and skin color, but still. Brown parents will say (and if they are Mallu, name their offspring) anything.

  21. I dont think free market system (no government regulation) necessarily leads to lower discrimination. A market system based on meritocracy, with strong laws against discrimination combined with enforcement bite.

    i think one of the reason jews excelled is b/c they didn’t have anti-discriminatory laws to fall back on. they were forced into entrepreneurship as well as hiring and selling to their own, which is a familiar immigrant pattern.

    i be curious to know how effective anti-discrimination laws are. do they really change a company and would you really want ot continue to work at a company that discriminates. isn’t it easy enough to discriminate w/o being obvious about it?

    the color and opening up of wall street never ceases to amaze me since i’ve been around it so long. one the Provence of wasp men in Manhattan who all knew each other, it is now quite different, though a lot of bigots are there. but as i’ve mentioned, this bigotry is severely hampered by the free-wheeling nature of the american system, and climbing the corporate ladder of a bank increasingly means less $$ than building your own or working with a startup. this has served browns well, though i see a couple of top browns got fired recently form merrill and hsbc (fallout from subprime).

    and as anna mentioned, there’s always india

  22. one the Provence of wasp men in Manhattan who all knew each other, it is now quite different

    what i meant ot say was merril and morgan where forced to change by the market, to hire jews and asians in particular, or risk losing out on globalization and other trends.

  23. this is very true. but a half truth.

    How so? I wasn’t making any grand existential statement about the black family. I was mainly responding to the argument “Well, Jews managed to do X, why couldn’t blacks?” Point being, Jews in America were always able to retain their family and cultural identity in a way that blacks were absolutely not. So it’s a bad argument because it assumes Jews and blacks were starting from exactly the same point.

  24. When I skimmed that last comment (375), I first only saw the “Ma” part of the username, then promptly poured water out of my cup, just to see if it would flow up to the sky rather than towards the earth’s core. Then I saw the username and all was normal.

  25. How so? I wasn’t making any grand existential statement about the black family. I was mainly responding to the argument “Well, Jews managed to do X, why couldn’t blacks?” Point being, Jews in America were always able to retain their family and cultural identity in a way that blacks were absolutely not. So it’s a bad argument because it assumes Jews and blacks were starting from exactly the same point.

    yeah, i agree. but the point of any model is to try to attain the characteristic that made these individuals models in the first place. remarkably, blacks were able to built this foundation despite slavery only to let it slip away. so, i assume it must be built up again.

  26. I dont think free market system (no government regulation) necessarily leads to lower discrimination. A market system based on meritocracy, with strong laws against discrimination combined with enforcement bite.

    Exactly, the market is not the “promised land”.

  27. A market system based on meritocracy, with strong laws against discrimination combined with enforcement bite.

    Exactly, the market is not the “promised land”.

    Yeah, but it is still “the free market”, not exactly the socialism that you were propagating earlier in #351.

  28. Amaun, why do you write free market economy with quotations?

    I’m saying that the way Manju was putting it a “free market” economy is the sole reason that people can become successful. I’m saying that I think that is not the case at all. Isn’t a free market economy have no regulations, such as labor laws, or laws restricting monopolies – that’s what I take it to mean. We don’t have that in the US so it is apt that you write “free market” in quotations to describe the US.

    When Manju writes things like, don’t complain that bank lending policies discriminate against you. – well I don’t see what’s wrong with this. It’s actually b/c people so-called “complained” about racism or sexism that things starting moving in this country – it couldn’t just be left to the free market to straighten it out.

    When Manju refers to “socialism” he seems to refer to communist dictatorships – there’s a big difference between socialist practices that combine free market with government-controlled or govt-regulated entities and communist states. I’d consider most of Western Europe as socialist or perhaps a mixed economy. When Manju mentions Burma, which is a totalitarian regime, and to define it as “socialist” is very inaccurate and the US doesn’t just have a free market economy, at least the way Manju seems to define it, which is have no gov’t intervention on issues of labor, discrimination, racism, segregation in schools, etc. It’s not just a matter of starting up your own school or bank or whatever.

    This is off the subject but, but I always thought Manju was an women’s name. Didn’t know desi guys were called Manju.

  29. PS:

    Isn’t a free market economy have no regulations

    free markets are matters of degree. I’m not making the purist argument. since you bought up slavery w/i the context of american capitalism, i think it represents a contradiction of the American creed, as mlk tirelessly argued. slavery was by definition a violation of property rights, as socialism by definition is.

    When Manju writes things like, don’t complain that bank lending policies discriminate against you. – well I don’t see what’s wrong with this. It’s actually b/c people so-called “complained” about racism or sexism that things starting moving in this country – it couldn’t just be left to the free market to straighten it out.

    i don’t begrudge anyone using anti-discriminatory laws, but fighting racism can be left to the market, as the history of wall st and IT shows. either way, we should not rely exclusively on the law when the markets can do a better job.

    When Manju refers to “socialism” he seems to refer to communist dictatorships

    i often use the example of india, which was democratic socialism resulting in some of the worlds most wretched poverty, not to mention institutionalizing india’s peculiar form of racism the bureaucracy. even france’s social-welfarism has not been kind to muslim immigrants, who represent a permanent underclass, albeit a well fed one.

    I’d consider most of Western Europe as socialist or perhaps a mixed economy

    except for perhaps greece and maybe ukraine and belarus if you go eastward, the social democrats of Europe have all embraced the modern liberal democratic consensus.

    When Manju mentions Burma, which is a totalitarian regime, and to define it as “socialist” is very inaccurate

    they self-define as socialist and more importantly use the much abused theory that socialism represents the authentic burmese way, and is a necessary anedote to racism (or colonialism). meanwhile life is extraodinarily difficult for non ethnic-burmese there. you can’t separate property rights from other rights, as burmese socialism is intimately connected to their totalitarianism. this same politics of authenticity has played itself out all over the world, so its worth mentioning.

    Didn’t know desi guys were called Manju.

    transgendered communities have also benefited greatly from capitalism.

  30. That leaves out a whole lot of factors: Do you have access to reliable forms of birth control? Have you ever received sex education? (When I worked at Planned Parenthood, I met a LOT of pregnant teenagers who hadn’t.) Do you have accessible, affordable abortion available? Did you even consent to the sex?

    Condoms are free in the hood and passed out at alot of nightclubs at the door. Everyone over 10 knows that it’s a reliable form of birth control. Whether they use them or not is a different story. No excuses.

  31. however, to prohibit the same dating pattern based simply on the fact that the potential partner in question belongs to a race that commits a disproprtionately higher number of violent crimes is racist, and ridiculous, even if it is ‘cliched.’

    Am I wrong in assuming most parents want their kids to marry within the same race, or religion or culture?

  32. i don’t begrudge anyone using anti-discriminatory laws, but fighting racism can be left to the market, as the history of wall st and IT shows. either way, we should not rely exclusively on the law when the markets can do a better job.

    IT has a unique history of racism? I am not aware of that.

    Manju do you seriously believe that racism can be left to the market? I cant believe that you are serious about that. If you have a GED, 2 juvenile convictions and Black and you work for White Castle flipping burgers, waiting for the market to fix racism will be a very long wait. Btw, I did have a client working at White Castle with the exact profile.

    I agree with you regarding:

    (1) A system where dollar is the king is a much better system when it comes to minorities then where dollar is not the king because money knows no color except green. The more greedy/capitalist the society, the more decisions will be made based on the almighty dollar and considerations of race, religion will not play as big a factor. Capitalism is better for the minorities than socialism when it comes to discrimination. (2) A system which is not heavily regulated by the government is better for the minorities when it comes to discrimination because government institutions will favor the majority (the system was set up by/for them) while a relatively free market system will not have artificially built advantages for the majority community.

    I dont agree with you regarding:

    (1) That a free market system will fix racism exclusively. Human beings are not rational profit maximizers and decisions are not solely based on profit maximization even in a free market capitalist society. Decisions are also based on bigotry, racism, homophobia etc. That is why some landlords will prefer a hetrosexual tenant with bad credit over a homosexual tenant with great credit. (2) You seem to believe that there are racist organizations which are losing dollars by being racist so there is always an opportunity for a non-racist organization to jump in and make profits while being non-racist. That would solve everything if the only discrimination which existed out there was discrimination faced by minorities as consumers in getting car loans or going out to eat. A lot of racism exists in employment situations. Also the racism is not always top down but usually manifests itself through screw up renegade managers out to make life miserable for particular minorities.

  33. Didn’t know desi guys were called Manju.transgendered communities have also benefited greatly from capitalism.

    ha,ha

    there’s a few things I want to comment about your comments Manju but don’t have time now. One quick thing though, free markets are matters of degree – yes so is most everything, including socialist policies. And by degrees, the Burmese in my mind of what is socialism, isn’t socialism. It’s fine if that’s what’s the Burmese define themselves as but the burmese govt probably defines human rights in a different way than I would.

    HMF – I agree with most of your points. One thing which isn’t really important to your point, but I guess I find Jewish culture so interesting so when you say, as they came voluntarily, and dont have legacy history of slavery and ghettoization – I think Jews do have a history of ghettoization in Europe and as many people in Europe at one time were serfs, many Jews also came to this country from a background that would be close to slavery; but that is not to in anyway take away from the slavery, that primarily Af-Ams suffered in the US, a slavery that gave them no humanity at all.

    I think the word ghetto actually comes from an Austrian word to describe the areas of the their cities in which Jews were forced to live – I seem to remember that from a Silva book, so not from an academic book, but I’d think Silva, being Jewish would want to be accurate about such things.

  34. I think Jews do have a history of ghettoization in Europe and as many people in Europe at one time were serfs, many Jews also came to this country from a background that would be close to slavery; but that is not to in anyway take away from the slavery, that primarily Af-Ams suffered in the US, a slavery that gave them no humanity at all.

    true. you are right, I meant they had no history of being herded into ghettos in the US, however in Europe they did, which explains their exclusionary, community driven practices here in the US. They learned the lesson of “assimilation” all too well.

  35. You what amuses me the most,that if one black person or a few do something it falls on the whole race,so say if I read that Indian men are killing and burning their daughters should I think that all Indian men are like that. I say get to know a black person first and you might have your eyes open,it is funny to me that you never hear anybody talk about the wealthy blacks of the world and the ones that are doing good but only about the ones doing bad. I try to judge people on a case by case basis but that just me. I can bet that half your friends that are talking bad about black people are most likely talking bad about you when your not around. Do I think racism holds some blacks down yes I do look at all the folks DNA testing got out of prison and off of death row.

  36. That is why some landlords will prefer a hetrosexual tenant with bad credit over a homosexual tenant with great credit.

    The landlord is an idiot if he does that. Nobody prefers someone with bad credit.

    I think what some of the free-marketers are saying that “Would the landlord choose a homosexual tenant over not renting out the place at all”.. Money could conceivably tend to correct many prejudices.

  37. I meant they had no history of being herded into ghettos in the US

    That’s actually not entirely true. There are definite signs of Jewish/Irish/Italian ghettoes (in the U.S.) similar to black ghettoes in the U.S. I’m of course using the term “ghetto” very specifically.

  38. That’s actually not entirely true. There are definite signs of Jewish/Irish/Italian ghettoes (in the U.S.) similar to black ghettoes in the U.S.

    do you mean in the sense that they were disallowed from living elsewhere? and that the areas were substandard and much more densely populated? If so, tthe amount of total time in that state was much shorter by comparison, as each one of these ethnicities started playing ball w/respect to ‘whiteness’ their ethnic identity began to erode.

  39. As I read this thread again, I watch a CNN special on lynching in the US, from the period of 1800′s all the way to 1960′s, and I’m left to wonder, instead of letting their trachea’s being pinched and dying of asphyxiation, why didn’t these men and women just start banks?

  40. HMF, the short answer to both your questions is yes. I’m not arguing it was better or worse, just saying that it is not entirely accurate to say there is “no history” of ghetto-ization for ethnic whites.

  41. why didn’t these men and women just start banks?

    some did. insurance companies too. read “our kind of people” by lawrence otis graham

  42. As I read this thread again, I watch a CNN special on lynching in the US, from the period of 1800′s all the way to 1960′s, and I’m left to wonder, instead of letting their trachea’s being pinched and dying of asphyxiation, why didn’t these men and women just start banks?

    as i watch a special on the 4 million jews killed by the hands of the national socialists, i’m left to wonder, don’t we owe it to the jews to lower their university admission standards?

  43. Well have any of you heard of a little town called called Tulsa,black people had booming businesses and their own banks hell it was even called the black wall street and guess what happened it got burned to the ground and it was hit by an airstrike the first ever in American history,it was done all out of envy. Same thing happened in Rosewood.

  44. I usualy lurk, but I could not take it anymore !! I just had to say that there have been many attempts by the Black community in the past to establish businesses and become more upwardly mobile, only to have their entire towns burned down.

    On a more personal note, my own great-grandfather’s successful shop was burned to the ground by the klan as a Christmas gift. These kinds of things leave indelible marks on a persons psyche, and they are passed on. In my most humble opinion, internalized racism compounded with external pressures from blacks and whites has slowed our progress. Each generation pushes forward.

    By the way, Anna, I nearly fell over when I first eyed this post. School life, 1980′s private school life, was really similar except my best… err only friend was Indian. We needed eachother to cope with our own culture-specific identity criseseseses. Where the heck was my Molly Ringwald?

  45. 4 million jews killed by the hands of the national socialists, i’m left to wonder, don’t we owe it to the jews to lower their university admission standards?

    No, the germans, do. (or some other form of reparation) because that’s where it happened. Germany. Not in the US.

  46. I would bet that in almost all countries that have socialist/islamic in their name, there is almost no enforceble property rights. As for enforcing contracts: when you have limited property rights enforcing contracts is even lower on the list of priorities.

    but I always thought Manju was an women’s name. Didn’t know desi guys were called Manju

    Manjunath is a common male name. Not that “Manju” could not be tg.

  47. I would bet that in almost all countries that have socialist/islamic in their name, there is almost no enforceble property rights.

    What is your point?