Sterilizing History [Updated]

AZ memorial.jpgWhat is up with Arizona? There was SB 1070, and the shooting of Gabby Giffords. And now, there is this. (via SALDEF)

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is signing a bill to remove Balbir Singh Sodhi’s name from the state’s 9/11 memorial and sell his memorial plaque as scrap metal. [saldef]

Balbir Singh Sodhi was the one of the first victim to a post 9/11 hate crime.

[He]was a Mesa, Arizona, gas station owner who was murdered in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He made headlines because he was the first of several cases across the United States that were reported to the police as acts of retaliation for the terrorist attacks

On September 15, 2001, Frank Roque shot him five times, killing him instantly. Roque, who apparently wanted revenge for September 11, confused him for a person of Arab ethnicity because of the clothes he wore, his turban, and his beard. Within 25 minutes of his death, the Phoenix police reported four further attacks on people who either were Middle Easterners or who dressed with clothes thought to be worn by Middle Easterners. [wiki]

How could anyone object that Sodhi’s death was not a directly connected to the events of September 11th?

The bill, which passed both houses on party-line votes, was sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who said Monday that he did only a cursory Internet search on Singh Sodhi’s murder. Kavanagh said it was unclear to him that the shooting was directly related to 9/11.

“He was the victim of a madman. He was not a 9/11 victim,” Kavanagh said. “I don’t mean to (dismiss) what happened to this individual. I don’t mean to trivialize it.” Continue reading

A statistical snapshot of North American brown folk

I’m really excited by the releases of 2010 Census. We’ll finally get some really fine-grained data. For example, we know from the American Community Survey that the Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, and Nepali, communities have grown a great deal over the past 10 years. But I’m curious about more than these sample based estimates, I want fine-grained stuff which the decennial Census provides. We’ll know for example whether the endogamy rate for marriages where individuals are Indian Americans who were born or raised in the USA remains ~55%. That means in a little over half of the marriages between an ABD and someone else, that someone else was also an Indian American (whether foreign born and raised, or American born or raised). One model might be that with the growth in the community you’ll see the outmarriage rate drop. Some social science has seen this tendency among Asian Americans in general. I’m probably leaning in that direction myself (as a descriptive matter of the population wide movement. I am not personally part of that trend).

But before we get to the point where we get lots of 2010 data releases, I thought I’d “dump” a statistical snapshot of sorts of South Asians in North America. I wanted to include the UK and other communities of the Diaspora, but labor hours are finite. Feel free to offer links/data in the comments. The data below are from the US Census, the 2001 Census of Canada, and Pew’s Religious Landscape Survey. It is interesting that even across the two North American South Asian communities there are large differences. In particular it struck me how much more nationally diverse Canadian South Asians are, while the American South Asian community is numerically dominated by people whose national or family origin is in India. Continue reading

When Harry Tries To Marry

Harry .jpgI seriously loathe American romantic comedies. I realize that sounds a bit hypocritical coming from a Bollywood-phile like myself. But while you, dear reader, may remain skeptical, I argue that Bollywood romcoms remain in a sphere separate from your typical romcom. Sure they both have the goofy meet cute deal where you have the ravishing heroine collide with a studly hero. (Boom! Bam! Voila! Sparks!) And both contain the usual mix of mishaps, misadventures, misinformed relatives and the like. But I watch Bollywood to practice my Hindi, catch up on the latest fashions and of course – to find new music.

The average modern American romcom, on the other hand, has little to redeem itself. Exceptions exist. Woody Allen can do fun things with romcoms. I’ll watch anything with Jimmy Stewart and Carey Grant. And of course, there’s Love Actually. Wait, that’s British. But overall, I find American romcoms vapid enough to induce nausea at the slightest exposure. Nowadays, when my friends drag me to the theater to see the latest Drew Barrymore romcom, I try not visibly gag and treat it as a sociological experiment or sorts. Why the human insistence on retreating to the fantasy of finding one true love when realistically, very few of us will? (And speaking of love, Pew Research Center showed that four in 10 Americans believe the institution of marriage is becoming obsolete.) But enough of this talk of love and doom. Let’s talk romcoms. Continue reading

20/20 or Sex Ray?

Sex Ray Vision.png

Count on the West Coast to turn out an Asian/South Asian pop dance remix duo for today’s #MusicMonday.(h/t Ennis. Seriously.)

Sex Ray Vision is a pop/dance band out of Stanford University. The group consists of two computer science majors at Stanford, producer Ravi Parikh and vocalist/songwriter Brian Yoo. They’ve been making music for over a year ever since they met as roommates with a goal of getting you to dance through the power of catchy pop hooks and hot beats. [freshnewtracks]

The songs are fresh sounding, rich with youthful fun and has this electro-pop production with an autotuned 80s music feel. You can listen and download their mixtape Sextape Vol. 1 off their soundcloud (below) for FREE and, according to their website, they’re dropping a new song every week. “Need Someone” has got to be the catchiest song in this mix but I simply can’t get “Under the Moonlight” out of my head.

Sextape Vol. 1 – Get Down by sexrayvision

Shucks, I wish I could get autotuned. Everything sounds better autotuned. Continue reading

Man Proposes Via Bollywood Flash Mob

Bollywood, it gets them every time.

When boyfriend Aayush decided to propose to girlfriend Ambika, he wanted something beyond the run-of-the-mill “beach at sunset” or “candle-lit dinner, ring in the champagne glass” proposal set-ups. So he took her down to San Francisco’s Pier 39 where she was in for a surprise. Watch the video and see what happens. Keep your eye on the guy in the red and white horizontal striped polo, that’s Aayush.

Aayush starts off by joining the group for a Punjabi number (I’m sure one of you clever mutineers can tell me the song title) and then goes into “Ainvayi Ainvayi Lut Gaya” from the 2010 film Band Baja Barat and ends with Joe Cocker’s, “You Are So Beautiful.” Epic.

Congrats to the happy couple! And mad props off to Aayush, that had to be some major planning. I wonder if he’s danced before? If not, that’s quite impressive. Heck, either way, that’s impressive. He just set the bar quite high, my friends. Quite high.

Hat Tip: Joey Chopra Continue reading

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Brown on “The Street”

The Raj Trial and Wall Street’s South Asian Elite:

This new South Asian Wall Street elite includes the CEO of Citigroup, Indian-born Vikram Pandit; Ajit Jain, also from India, a money manager emerging as the likely successor to investment guru Warren Buffett; and a half-dozen hedge-fund managers who use strategies based on mathematical algorithms to routinely rake in $50 million or more per year in income. Chief among the latter group is the Sri Lankan-born Rajaratnam, who ran a $7 billion hedge fund, Galleon Group, and largely to the disgust of this justifiably proud community, has emerged as the face of this new ethnic order.

In much the same way that the upwardly mobile Jewish community of the 1930s viewed Jewish gangsters as a “shanda fur die goyim” (shame before the gentiles), the “Raj trial” has put the South Asian financial clique on full display, for all its success–and insularity.

I actually had some media inquiries in relation to the Galleon trial in terms of how I thought it impacted the South Asian American community. Since I’m primarily a science blogger who isn’t even part of the South Asian American community, even the Bangaldeshi community, I just passed the inquiries on.

Those “in the know” can comment further, but my impression is that an analogy between a South Asian clique on Wall Street and a Jewish clique is weakened by the fact that brown folk are much more diverse. There’s a commonality in the U.S.A. due to how we’re perceived by others, but it isn’t as if a Sri Lankan quant is going to arrange a marriage with Neel Kashkari’s future children. More pointedly I think many of us perceive brown bankers and hedge fund guys and gals as bankers and hedge fund guys and gals first and foremost. Or at least that’s how the rest of America should view them.

In fact the journalist who contacted me admitted that they were having a hard time fleshing out the South Asian angle, since so few people in “the community” seemed interested or concerned about the Galleon trial. It was a different matter apparently when it came to management consultants and people on Wall Street, who thought their image was being tarnished further (yes, it is being tarnished further, but you’ll keep your bonuses, so I hope that’s just compensation for your reduced esteem!). Continue reading

~1 in 5 Indian Families…

…receive some sort of state assistance / welfare today. That surprisingly high number (well, to me anyway) is from a recently published report by the Center for Immigration Studies that’s sure to generate some interesting (and perhaps heated) discussion.

Households with children with the highest welfare use rates are those headed by immigrants from the Dominican Republic (82 percent), Mexico and Guatemala (75 percent), and Ecuador (70 percent). Those with the lowest use rates are from the United Kingdom (7 percent), India (19 percent), Canada (23 percent), and Korea (25 percent).

While 19% “feels” higher than I’d expect, it’s still a little less than half the rate of “native households with children” (39%). And, the Indian number is positive relative to those hordes of poor, illiterate, malnourished, Americans-of-Canadian-descent (23%) and is the lowest rate of use of any of the Asian communities identified. A model minority?

Interestingly, I’ve always generally assumed that immigration patterns from India vs. Pakistan into the US were basically the same. However, the Pakistani-household rate of assistance – 32.8% – is substantially higher than the Indian one and on par with the rate for Chinese families – 32.7%.

CIS’s intro to their study notes the issues being raised and points out that the data collected is primarily self-reported (with all the issues/concerns entailed) –

Concern that immigrants may become a burden on society has been a long-standing issue in the United States. As far back as colonial times there were restrictions on the arrival of people who might become a burden on the community. This report analyzes survey data collected by the Census Bureau from 2002 to 2009 to examine use of welfare programs by immigrant and native households, particularly those with children. The Current Population Survey (CPS) asks respondents about their use of welfare programs in the year prior to the survey,1 so we are examining self-reported welfare use rates from 2001 to 2009.

Any mutineers have insight into these differences?

Continue reading

Kumaré. Believe.

As Razib pointed out in the post immediately preceding, Sathya Sai Baba is dead. Who will stand up now to replace him? May I offer a humble suggestion? Kumaré:

What? Ok yes, I did just go there.

Kumaré is an enlightened guru from the East who builds a following of disciples in the West. But Kumaré is not real. He is an American filmmaker named Vikram Gandhi, who has transformed himself into Kumaré as the centerpiece of a social experiment designed to explore and test one of the world’s most sacred taboos. Concealing his true identity from all he meets, Kumaré forges profound, spiritual connections with real people from all walks of life. At the same time, in the absurdity of living as an entirely different person, Vikram the filmmaker is forced to confront difficult questions about his own identity. At the height of his popularity he reveals his greatest teaching: his true self. A playful yet genuine and insightful look at belief and spirituality, the film crosses a line few have dared to cross, all to discover: from illusion comes truth. [Link]

Check a review from SXSW.

Continue reading

Sai Baba, 1926-2011

Sathya Sai Baba, Hindu Holy Man, Dies at 86:

Indian television ran nonstop news coverage on Sunday of the guru’s death, while officials and celebrities expressed sadness over an “irreparable loss.”

“Sri Satya Sai Baba was a spiritual leader who inspired millions to lead a moral and meaningful life, even as they followed the religion of their choice,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement. “The nation deeply mourns his passing away.”

Andhra Pradesh state, where Puttaparti is located, declared four days of mourning, with its top official calling Sai Baba “a symbol of love, affection and passion.”

“Sri Satya Sai Baba has given his great self to the service of humanity,” Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy said. “He will be remembered for ages to come by all sections of people all over the world.”

Prediction: as the Indian middle class waxes Sai Baba will be viewed as a trailblazing religious entrepreneur. There will be many more in his mold. Continue reading