Small Minds Judge Kiwis by Their Color

Desi roots in New Zealand go back to the late 18th century when some lascars and sepoys on British East India ships stopping in New Zealand jumped ship to settle there and marry Māori women. In the first part of this century, the community grew to over 100,000 with a 68 percent growth rate. When Kiwis got their first desi Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand in 2006, Sepia Mutiny blogged about it and the presumably inclusive nature of the symbolic appointment.

Thumbnail image for jackson.anand.jpg walsh.patel.lal.jpg

But recently that gesture has been overshadowed by a TV host who insisted that Satyanand doesn’t look much like a New Zealander. Add to the mix this week’s media focus on the story of a blue-eyed, blonde Miss IndiaNZ pageant entrant being booed for not “looking Indian” enough, and we have a very Kiwi-flavored reminder about the harms of judging people by their color. I know, I know, it’s 2010 and you thought this was covered on a Wednesday in 1963, but all kinds of people around the world seem to forget. Continue reading

Deported and Denied

It’s absurd really how the immigration debate has been commandeered by people who have messaged this issue as though “brown” is only Mexican, and “the border” is the only way people cross into the U.S. Evidence of this can clearly be seen in dirty political ads that are coming out as the countdown to Election Day approaches November 2nd.

The truth is, the history of immigration in the U.S. is complicated. And the current history of undocumented immigrants as well as deportation of immigrants is just as complicated. For Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package, many different issues should be addressed besides just building a wall. Colorlines Magazine put out a fascinating and well-made report this week about a Bangladeshi youth that was deported out of the U.S. after authorities were not satisfied with how he responded to the question, “Are you a citizen?”

Shahed Hossain was a Texan to the core. He spent most of his childhood and adolescence just outside of Fort Worth, dated a young women whose mother worked as an accountant for a military contractor, went fishing on the river with his best friend and held a weekend high school job scooping ice cream at a breakthrough near his family’s house.

The young man had a green card and was soon to be a citizen, but he was removed from his home over a trifle: He accidentally told a border guard he was a citizen rather than a permanent resident, thus triggering automatic deportation….In the three years since Hossain was deported, over one million others have been removed from their homes as well. [colorlines]

Happy Columbus Day, y’all. Continue reading

Happy 70th Birthday, John Lennon!

Like many of you, I spent part of today blasting my favorite John Lennon songs in commemoration of what would have been his 70th birthday.

The official John Lennon YouTube channel has been collecting tributes from fans around the world for the past couple of days. Here’s one submitted by Bollywood playback singer Suraj Jagan. (He’s best known for the song Give Me Some Sunshine from the 3 Idiots soundtrack.):

And because I strongly believe that no South Asian-themed John Lennon tribute would be complete without a link to the Bollywood version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, here’s that as well:

What are your favorite John Lennon songs? And have you noticed any other South Asian tributes to the Beatles? Continue reading

What Happened to All the South Asians in Hollywood?


Last Friday my boyfriend and I went to the theater to watch The Social Network, a movie that tells the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of the ubiquitous social media site. The film itself was fantastic – cleverly told, with fast-paced, witty dialogue and a group of young, talented actors. To nobody’s surprise, it garnered excellent reviews and made a respectful first-place opening at the box-office. But one detail did bother me – and many others that I spoke with – the fact that the only major minority character in the film, Indian-American Divya Narendra, was played by Italian-American Max Minghella. Continue reading

“Bangalore instead of Burbank”

It’s an election year and it appears yet again that few things trigger the emotional tripwire faster than outsourcing. Out here in Cali, it’s apparently the ticket Barbara Boxer is banking on to preserve her Senate seat in the face of her challenger, former HP CEO, Carly Fiorina –

“I know precisely why those jobs go…Because Fiorina shipped them there….Bangalore instead of Burbank.”

Unfortunately, unlike Boxer, Fiorina has actually engaged in the difficult and often unpopular tradeoffs necessary to run a viable company and meet payroll. Boxer ought to instead put more effort into understanding why Fiorina and thousands of CEO’s like her consistently rate California the worst state in the country to do business. As a direct consequence, California jobs are far more at risk of being “outsourced” to other states than the comparatively few that are sent out of the country.

Of course, when you’re dealing with politics rather than economics, where a job was sent to matters far more than the sheer number lost – a fact Boxer’s ad exploits to the fullest.

Continue reading

A to Z of the CWG

The Commonwealth Games in Delhi are finally here, and just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, here’s an A to Z guide to get you up to speed:abhinav-bindra.jpg

A is for Abhinav. India’s first and only individual Olympic gold medalist, Abhinav Bindra may shoot himself to a fifth Commonwealth Games medal and a thousand more marriage proposals.

B is for Bolt. The Jamaican sprinter named Bolt is missing from the Games, but as a safety inspector at a new bridge in Delhi said, “We’re more concerned about any other missing bolts.”

C is for Clean Up. No, not what’s been happening at the athletes’ village in Delhi, but what Indian athletes hope to do on the medal table.

D is for Delays. The Games have been plagued with delays: delayed funding, delayed construction and even delayed corruption.

Continue reading

Tyler, Dharun and Molly: One Life Lost, Two Lives Ruined

Ravi Wei.jpg

Police believe they may have found the body of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who jumped to his death after a roommate spied on him having gay sex. Meanwhile, some Rutgers students are saying Clementi’s roommate’s actions were misinterpreted.

Tyler’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, turned on his computer’s webcam and apparently spied on Clementi while he was hooking up with another man. After Clementi found out, he ended up throwing himself off the George Washington bridge. [gawker]

Do you remember what it was like to be 18? Most of us consider ourselves much wiser than we were back then; many of us would cringe at what we thought and the asinine shit we did. The problem with being 18, if I may be so blunt, is that most 18-year olds are stupid. Yes, we are brown; we get near-perfect scores on the SAT and take so many AP classes, we can skip our Freshman year of college. Big deal. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about emotional intelligence. Compassion. Wisdom. That last trait isn’t gifted to a teenager because it’s a consolation prize for approaching middle age, for suddenly possessing an underperforming metabolism, greying temples and baggage “life experiences”. Continue reading

The home stretch for Manan

My cousin Manan, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 6th District of Pennsylvania, is in the home stretch. Every dollar counts at this point in his bid to upset the Republican incumbent Jim Gerlach.

This is the same Jim Gerlach who began race baiting earlier in the campaign:

Trivedi, who has already raised more than $390,00 dollars as a traditional candidate, in part by tapping a wealthy network of politically-minded Indian Americans in Pennsylvania, is now facing off against Republican incumbent Jim Gerlach (pictured above). Recently, Gerlach launched attacks against Trivedi, saying that he “doesn’t share our values.”

And whose values are those? One guess.

When concerns were raised that the Gerlach campaign’s statement could be perceived as playing on Trivedi’s ethnic differences compared to the average Pennsylvanian voter’s (85% of Pennsylvania’s residents are White), Gerlach dismissively said, “The only one who has played the race card here is him, by going to Indian-American groups to raise money.”

Wait, what?

The logic being used by Gerlach is that Trivedi shouldn’t lobby Indian-American groups, because (somehow) this is racist. [Link]

And this is the same Gerlach who is making the number one issue in his Pennsylvania district…the New York City Mosque. You know, because Manan has brown skin so why not make that the central issue?

The headline of the news release was: “Despite Inquiries, Trivedi Silent for Over a Week on Mosque Issue.”

Mr. Trivedi is Hindu. “That’s what I put on my dog tags when I was in the Navy,” he often says. But supporters of Mr. Trivedi said the news release about the mosque was intended to suggest that Mr. Trivedi was Muslim, an assertion that the Gerlach campaign denied. [NYTimes]

So this is it. If you ever intended to donate your time as a volunteer or make a monetary contribution, now is the time as it is the end of the quarter filing deadline.

Continue reading

A gathering storm of crazy

This sounds like a really insensitive premise for a video game, right?

The year is 2014, and a new breed of neo-Islamic terrorism is rampant in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio … The current White House Administration is pro-Muslim and has ordered a stand-down against Islamic groups. The mission: Destroy the terrorist command post — or die trying. The fighters must go in “sterile” — without name tags or other identifying insignia — as a deniable covert force. ” [Time]

Guess what? We’d be lucky if this was just a video game. This is reality. There are people in this country with guns that are really this crazy and “training.” Time Magazine has the full scoop:

This August weekend of grueling mock combat, which left some of the men prostrate and bloody-booted, capped a yearlong training regimen of the Ohio Defense Force, a private militia that claims 300 active members statewide. The fighters shot blanks, the better to learn to maneuver in squads, but they buy live ammunition in bulk. Their training — no game, they stress — expends thousands of rounds a year from a bring-your-own armory of deer rifles, assault weapons and, when the owner turns up, a belt-fed M-60 machine gun. The militia trains for ambushes, sniper missions, close-quarters battle and other infantry staples.

What distinguishes groups like this one from a shooting club or re-enactment society is the prospect of actual bloodshed, which many Ohio Defense Force members see as real. Their unit seal depicts a man with a musket and tricorn hat, over the motto “Today’s Minutemen.” The symbol invites a question, Who are today’s redcoats? On that point, the group takes no official position, but many of those interviewed over two days of recent training in and around the abandoned Roseville State Prison near Zanesville voiced grim suspicions about President Obama and the federal government in general. (See Obama’s troubled first year.)

“I don’t know who the redcoats are,” says Brian Vandersall, 37, who designed the exercise and tried to tamp down talk of politics among the men. “It could be U.N. troops. It could be federal troops. It could be Blackwater, which was used in Katrina. It could be Mexican troops who are crossing the border…”

As militias go, the Ohio Defense Force is on the moderate side. [Time]

I urge SM readers to read the whole article. You’ve kind of heard rumors of all this before, but this just lays the crazy out across the table for you to examine.

Continue reading