The soft bigotry of fake license plates

I was horrified upon reading this. While growing up in diverse northern California in the early 80s this is the one thing that really stuck out to make me feel like a minority. 25 years later it seems this continues to be a problem for our peoples.

HAYWARD, CA– Dinesh Parekh, 9, continues to struggle to find a bicycle license plate with his name on it, the Indian-American child reported Monday. “This is the third store I’ve checked today,” said a dejected Parekh, exiting a Toys “R” Us near his Hayward home. “Derrick, Diane, Dillon and Dylan, Dirk… no Dinesh.” Parekh, who has pedaled his brand-new Schwinn to more than a dozen stores during his three-week search, said he plans to ask his mother to drive him to the KB Toys in San Leandro next weekend. [Onion]

Can’t we just ask prison inmates to add a bit of diversity to their plate making assembly lines? Until at least Fremont, Edison, Sugarland and other U.S. cities start carrying “Dinesh, “Rahul,” “Ravi,” etc., we will never really be accepted.

28 thoughts on “The soft bigotry of fake license plates

  1. Looking at the most popular baby names, it looks like there’s a long way to go before we get those license plates :) …. Arjun tops out at #729 this year…. Nikhil cracked into the top-1000 list in 1997. Not to start a flame-war, but did anyone see a more popular “apparently” Indian name higher on the list (by this, I mean a name where you’d have a >50% chance of the person being of South Asian ancestry).

    http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/

  2. You wrote:

    While growing up in diverse northern California in the early 80s this is the one thing that really stuck out to make me feel like a minority.

    My sister and I also grew up in Northern CA, after fleeing Southern CA in 1978. We shared your pain. Well, to be more accurate…SHE did:

    And with that, so much was conjured. Memories of being at Disneyland or airport souvenir shops, standing next to my sister as I excitedly snatched a license plate or key chain emblazoned with, “A N N A”…while she glumly turned the display to “V”, where there was nothing which read “Veena”. [sm]

    Ah, souvenir drama…fwiw, I think it builds character. You and she are both exceptionally strong, etc. ;)

  3. I think I’m lucky if I find anything with my first inital ‘Z’, let alone the rest of my Arabic name!

  4. No offense, but how is this an example of bigotry. South Asians are a minority in this country. Imagine being a Muslim, it is rare to find a “Muslim” name on a pre-made fake license plate.

    Why the obsession with being “oppressed” when Indian Americans are well-to-do compared to other South Asians like Afghan Americans or Bangladeshis. When I was last at the mosque, a Desi woman was asking for “zakat” (alms) from people. The woman had no money and a baby wrapped around her dupatta attached to her back. Islamophobia in this country is real. But fake license plates excluding names like Rahul are nit bigotry!

  5. With a name like “Abhishek” and your brother “Poojan”, imagine agony of “Yo Dad” back in the eighties in the bay area of Northern CA, to insure that boys were happy and blended in with WASP friends like Seth, Gwen, Gene, Melanie, Matthew, Brian, William, etc. May be someone should outsource this task to India, then we will have plenty of Raj, Manish, Dinesh, Rahul, Ravi, Apu, or generics like “Gujju”, “Mallu”, “Bangla”, “Punjabi”, “Madrasi”, etc.:-)

  6. why is this bigotry? it is not cost effective for a company to produce licence plates with names that are not common amongst the population.

  7. Mustafa – the article abhi quoted is from The Onion. The bigotry addressed here is a JOKE.

  8. Why doesn’t the fake license plate business get with the times? Now-a-days, we have this thing called the “internet” now. They should just make a website where a kid can type in his or her name and wham! They can send you a little fake license plate in the mail. It would be MAGICAL.

  9. I guess I am a little annoyed by privileged Desis in the Diaspora complaining about oppression when none exists. Just like I’m tired of Muslims using the Palestinians as scapegoats for commiting acts of terrorism against Western nations and their allies which includes India.

    As a Clintonite Democrat, our “liberal messiah” has killed more people in unmanned drone attacks in South Asia than Emperor Bush II. He has also deported mote Latinos than the “cowboy” carpetbagger.

  10. Hilarious; doesn’t Dinesh become Dino?

    I always think its great to transliterate names to English. Technically I’m Zakryia but my parents spelt my name after Zachary Taylor.

    I like my dual identity and think its great if others adopted it. Would make their names easier to flow in the West but retain their Oriental heritage (some Chinese students use to call themselves Johnson as a transliteration of their Han names)..

  11. While you and I might relish in our “Brown Englishman” mentality, there are those in the Diaspora eager to retain this supposed authentic Desiness that doesn’t even exist on the subcontinent.

  12. Hey, Mustafa, since satire has gone over your head, can you troll harder about your experiences as a light-skinned person traveling through India? It’s been a whole two days since we’ve read about that.

  13. Surely, Dinesh Parekh (or his family) can afford a customized plate. Won’t cost more than 20 bucks maximum.

    And yeah Mustafa, The Onion is a spoof article website :-)

  14. Hey, mustafa, since satire has gone over your head, can you troll harder about your experiences as a light-skinned person traveling through India? It’s been a whole two days since we read about that.

  15. HA I had that clipping on my fridge for years.

    I was at a rest stop on the Ohio turnpike this weekend and looked for my name in a keychain display. No dice! But then my husband and friend’s names weren’t in there either, and they have common Western names.

  16. As an Italian in the US with the first name “Pasquale”, I encountered the same problem growing up. I finally resolved it by going to Italy and buying a pen and a mug with my name on them.

    I’m in my forties now, and I still feel left out.

  17. This isn’t bigotry, its economics. If there is sufficient demand for “Dinesh”, they will make it. Don’t throw away your and sepiamutiny’s credibility by putting up such posts.

  18. Are this many people incapable of spotting a gag when they see it?

    I guess satire really is dead.

  19. The source of the article as The Onion wasn’t that obvious, I thought it was easy to miss that this was an ironical post. Guess it hits a little close to home for a lot of folks… :)

    The Onion strikes again; it still rules for being a pub I can’t read at work for fear of bursting into involuntary chuckles and alerting co-workers & supervisors that perhaps I am not analyzing sales data as I ought.

  20. Until at least Fremont, Edison, Sugarland and other U.S. cities start carrying “Dinesh, “Rahul,” “Ravi,” etc., we will never really be accepted.

    My kanjoos Indian self rejoices that the lack of Indian names means one less piece of tourist kitsch to buy when visiting a new place.

  21. i knew abhi was jerking our chain as as soon as i read the name “dirk”

  22. what i want to know is why are all the pink elephants named “Raoul” always sold out when the “gujartis against modi but for youtube” convention is in town?

  23. ms. titmuss was complainig how she couldn’t find astronaut dolls named after her when she visits the nasa giftshop in houston. according to the clerk, as soon as they come in some dude crusies in and swoops them all up

  24. While obviously a funny Onion article, this used to make me so sad growing up! Until I was almost 10 I’d always search the stands, to no avail. Both my kids have slightly unusual western names, and will sadly suffer from the same fate I did, though, for those of you who are taking this seriously, the vast jungle of the internet will yield many companies that will happily personalize cheap memorabilia with whatever name you wish.