Oh, Good. Let’s Talk About Race Again.

Over the last five years, I’ve written here and there about race. It’s clearly a very big part of my life. And it feels like racial tensions are rising higher and higher every day.

(Like police officers Supporting Darren Wilson, or these idiots yelling at the Ferguson protesters, or a black man being shot for holding a toy bb gun because it is shoot-first-ask-later.)

As usual, there’s this sense of uselessness. I’m not sure what I can be doing. I try to be as vocal as possible, and talk about it and write about it. Which helps, maybe?

There’s a lot of diversity-talk happening in the publishing industry right now, which is amazing. There is a gross lack of diversity in the workforce, and people are starting realize it (though, it did take them a minute). Conversations are finally starting to happen about how to fix that problem. And of course, We Need Diverse Books really jump-started the conversation by pointing out our abysmal lack of publishing with and of PoCs*.

But this isn’t enough. Books are my world, obviously. And we will hopefully have more diverse books to have an effect on the way people think in the future. But they’re still a very small part of the world at large.

I want everyone I know to be as angry as I am when movies come out with all white-casts (ahem, Skeleton Twins and What If). I want them to notice when a book or TV series has no major characters who are PoC. I want them to care when movies like Moses have all white leads and have PoCs cast as slaves and thieves. I want them to notice when video games have no PoCs or just stereotypes. Or to notice when their job or club or whatever are all one color. I want them to care about cultural appropriation and not support it. I don’t want them to laugh it off. I don’t want them to rationalize it away. And I don’t want to be written off or have eyes rolled when I point these things out.

I don’t want to feel like the angry brown girl.

I want people to realize how important this is.

This never turns off for me. There is never a moment when I am not aware of my race or how it is being reflected in society.

I want to see more of a response and recognition to how we’re represented in the media, because that is where normalization comes from. Until there’s more representation, we’re still seen as other or exotic. We’re not seen as real people. Normalization means that maybe we won’t get talked about in a certain way, or reacted against so violently, or just maybe we’ll be the default setting instead of the afterthought.

I’m not calling out white people for being there, I’m calling out content creators, companies, casting directors, anyone who makes a decision about who is on the screen or in the workplace or on the page for not doing more to represent society as it is. And I’m calling out people who don’t need to care about it for not caring about it.

*PoC is how I refer to myself, so, uh, apologies if it is not your jam.

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Preeti Reads OUTLANDER, Part 1

I’m reading OUTLANDER for the first time. It’s … been enlightening.

Last night I texted Jenn with updates.

 

outlander 1 outlander 2

Outlander 7 outlander 4

 

outlander 5

 

 

Today I made her listen to me complain on gchat. Please excuse our pidgin typing.

Preeti: jenn no one told me outlander was going to turn into twilight
how come no one told me jenn
Jenn: it doesn’t exactly
it goes thru phases
like a teenager
Preeti: well claire is in her bella swan phase and jamie keeps going btwn being jacob and edward
…………….
Preeti:  it’s a total power play
and then the weird parts where he’s like
you WILL call me master
and i’m like ugghhhh
whattt
claire you were so bad ass
Jenn: yyyyyyyeah
i mean for the record the book is going to get even crazier
Preeti: i am enjoying the story
but i feel like there’s been this like
dramatic shift
in claire
where in the first half
she’s really smart and funny
and pretty awesome
then he beats her, and convinces her that it was for her own good
and she agrees!!!!!!!
and i think that is what is really killing me
Jenn: i guess i blocked some of that scene out bc i remember the beating part but not the agreeing part
that’s pretty terrible
Preeti: yeah like afterward
she’s mad and makes him sleep on the floor
which good
but then they’re walking
bc she’s hurting so bad she can’t sit on a horse
and he tells her some embarrassing stories
and is like
see?
you have to be beaten
and she’s like oh well i guess i see your point
ps i love you
Jenn: ahahhaa that is hilarious and also bad
Also, Blair is amazing.
Blair: see if you had read way more romance novels like i have
you would know what a cockstand is
Preeti: aaaahaha
Blair: (it is not a resting place for your rooster)
Preeti: are you sure?
i mean
contextually
it could be
a stand for your rooster to rest on
Stay tuned for Part 2.

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06/11/2004, My Mom Tries to Chat Arranged Marriage

This has been happening for ten years, just want you guys to know that. (Taken from my old-old-old livejournal account because I can’t actually believe this happened ten years ago.)

 

Mom: Preeti, c’mon, think about it, we have offers.
me: Offers?!?! .. right.
Mom: He’ s a doctor!
me: He’s already a doctor?! how old is he, 40?
(Heeral: hahaha, i need a yoooung brrrriiiide)
Mom: C’mon, you can do whatever you want. you can hire people to do everything, cook, clean, whatever.
Me: and all i have to do is marry someone I don’t know.
Mom: No, you’ll get to know him!
Me: Mom. i’m trying to play video games. no more talking about marriage.
Mom: You have to be married by the time you’re 26!
Me: Mom! VIDEO GAMING!

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Don’t Ignore that Instinct, Kids

Let me tell you a tale. One about marriage and status. Or maybe just one about marriage.

Kind of.

So, my relationship with my mother has reached a tipping point. That tipping point being that I am 30 and (gasp, shock etc) unmarried.

What this means is that my mom has been mining an Indian marriage site for prospective husbands for me.

(Turns out it’s hard to say no to things when your mom starts crying.)

Any way, about a week ago she began in earnest. First she sent me a few profiles of Doctors in the tristate area. I looked at one or two and immediately rejected the one who was looking for a “descent” girl. We’ll call him Dr. D.

My mom’s reaction?

“Preeti, you have to meet people, you can’t tell from their profile!”

“Mom, I don’t like his pictures, and he couldn’t take the time to proofread his profile?”

“Preeti!”

Then five minutes of yelling after which I think my exact words were,

“FINE JUST GIVE HIM MY CONTACT INFORMATION JEEZ.”

Any way, so he texts me on the Friday of BEA. I text him back on Saturday asking very politely if he’d like to meet for coffee.

I hear nothing back until Tuesday at 2:30.

text 4

Ignoring the three days it took him to respond, well, that’s an hour and a half’s notice, so I asked if we could meet up the following evening. He agreed and we decided to meet at 6:30. But after confirming he says,

text 5

Instinct is saying: This guy is going to be terrible.

I reiterated that no, tonight would not work, perhaps next week was better.

text 6

I don’t know either, guys.

The next morning I get:

text 1

As if we hadn’t already confirmed it?

That evening, I show up on Bedford & N. 8th at 6:25 and take a seat outside a bakery and text to let him know I’m there. At 6:28:

text 2

I stand and look around. Nope, no Indians.

Then my phone rings.

Me: Hello?
Dr. D: Hi Preeti? Are you here?
Me: Yes… I’m .. outside.
Dr. D: Oh, well I just parked and I have to go to the bank so is it okay if I’m ten minutes late?
Me: Sure, I’ll be outside.

Great. Okay.

He finally shows up around 6:40-6:45, and after getting some juice and a snack, we sit outside to chat. Mostly about him being a doctor. And how hard his life is. Because he’s a doctor. He really needs a wife who is going to be there for him with a cup of coffee when he gets home after a long, hard day.

Dr. D: I mean, when we get married in six months…
Me: o.O

Later, chatting about how he wants to open his own practice.

Dr. D: Well, I’d need you for the green card, of course.
Me: O.O

After ranting for a few minutes on how Americans hate immigrants, and how they blame immigrants for everything, he finally asks me a question about what I do. I start to go into children’s publishing, but he interrupts with:

Dr. D: You know, I have a lot of interesting stories. I’ve had a lot of experiences that other people haven’t had. I lived in Manhattan for a year.

He proceeds to tell me a somewhat amusing anecdote about this old Indian lady he used to live with. I told him that he could definitely self-publish.

There was much talk of how he couldn’t really see himself living in NYC for much longer. I’ve by now realized that I made a huge mistake in agreeing to this, so I keep doubling down on my intent to live here for as long as possible.

“Yeah, I really need to be here for my work.”
“I just can’t really see myself living anywhere else.”
“New York is obviously the best city in the world.”
etc, etc.

I think he’s getting the hint when he starts talking about all the other ladies he has to meet still, because he has to make a decision. He’s not getting any younger. He’s going to meet this girl in Arizona and in California. Then abruptly asks, “Hey what kind of food do you like?”

Me: Oh, uh, so sorry. Didn’t realize we were going to have food. I have an appointment. Very important. Author appointment.

He walks me to the train, which was nice, but then says: “I think this went well, let’s see each other again.”

Me: I’ll have to check my schedule, I’m out of town this weekend.
Dr. D.: Oh right, yeah, I’ll have to check my schedule, too. I mean, I’m meeting those girls in Arizona and California.
Me: Okay, well, nice meeting you…
Dr. D.: Yes, okay. Bye.

It was all terrible.

But it gets more terrible, BECAUSE THE STORY’S NOT OVER YET, GUYS.

I go to meet up with Jenn at Word to tell her all about my woefully wasted evening. Maybe an hour in, I get a text from Dr. D. I’ll just let you read the whole thing.

text 3

And that’s the story about how I’m not going to marry an asshole.

 

 

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Dirty Words: Race Talk

Jeffrey Phelps / AP

Two years ago, I blogged my thoughts on race in America in my super awkward / uncomfortable Super Chocolate Brown Bear post. And in it, I say:

“Sometimes, I still feel like a secondary citizen, socially.

Not secondary in the sense that “you’re brown, you can’t frequent this establishment” – more like, you’re brown and not really American. … It’s not too far off for me to think that way, is it? The way a frighteningly large number of Americans are reacting to our President?

This race thing largely wasn’t an issue until I got older, of course. I like to blame the last good ole’ Dubya for teaching our country that difference is to be feared and rejected. We joke about being called terrorists and being looked at funny in the airport – but the fact remains: there’s truth behind it. I only started laughing about being called a terrorist after I heard a group of kids in college walk by and say: “Yo, check out that terrorist.”’

In light of the shooting that happened this weekend, I’m forced to reckon with this feeling again. Only this time, there’s more anger and confusion. Those of us who were old enough to remember just after 9/11 know that the first man to be killed in a hate crime was Sikh. They’re in the unfortunate position of playing “Muslim” to modern racists / extremists who don’t know the difference. And of course I’m not saying it would have been okay if he had been Muslim. It just shines the light on the first of two big issues here:

A Lack of Education and Understanding

We all hear about Arizona, who, for the past few years with their uneducated governor Jan Brewer, have consistently been anti-minority. Sorry are you brown, I need to see your papers because you might be illegally living here. No, no, I don’t care if you were here first. We believe in white people in Arizona. Where they’ve cut what they are calling “Racially divisive ethnic-studies classes” (also-known-as Mexican Studies.

We hear about Texas, where they’ve voted to downplay the civil rights movement in text books that will be used across the country.

These are not outright attacks on a particular ethnicity or culture, but they are designed to promote the White-is-Right attitude, and that anything that is different doesn’t need to be understood, it just needs to go away. And unfortunately, we’re all kind of sitting back and taking it. This brings me to my second issue:

Why Bother Talking About It?

A few weeks ago there was a terrible incident in Aurora, Colorado. The reaction was immediate. It was all over my newsfeed, all over my tweet stream, everywhere everyone was talking about this thing that had happened. As they should have been! It was a senseless act of violence and needed to be discussed and shared if only so we could create a conversation on how to make it better. One day after the shooting, the Huffington Post posted the reactions of politicians. There are 57 slides of reactions. Within three days of the shooting, there were hundreds of articles about it.

The Wisconsin shooting happened yesterday morning. I didn’t hear about it until yesterday evening. As of this post, I’ve read the reactions of six politicians, one of whom is the executive director of the Sikh Coalition. Most of the people who are talking about it on social media seem to be of South Asian descent. Which makes me think: Do people just feel like this isn’t all that big of a deal?

A man walks into a house of worship and shoots and kills these Asian-Americans. The lack of reaction is disheartening. Why aren’t we worth the same anger and confusion that people felt weeks ago? Is it old news? Is it because it’s more expected?

I’m genuinely struggling with this. After the Aurora shootings, it was all people I knew were talking about. It came up frequently in conversation at home, at work, and everywhere else. Not a single person has brought up this Wisconsin shooting in my office today.

Roger Ebert wrote an op-ed for the Times after the Aurora shooting that because of this act of violence, we should be able to discuss Gun Control in a rational way. I agree. And I think that because of the Wisconsin shootings, we should be able to discuss race and ethnicity in a rational way.

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I Swear I Don’t Blow My Nose with a Hundred Dollar Bill

But I cannot make that promise about Jeff Bezos.

We all know that there was an article in the NY Times about us evil, evil, horrible publishers colluding against the poor, wittle book seller innocent Amazon. (I may be simplifying things a bit.)

Sue me, I’m feeling mean today.

When things like this happen, and the news comes out, every blog and every article (barring some industry specific ones) make publishers out to be these money hungry monsters. Like we’re all sitting on big piles of money laughing about all those dumb customers buying expensive eBooks.

Oh, would that our lives look like that.

Really, we’re sitting around trying to figure out how to get our rapidly dwindling audience of readers to a) keep reading and b) read more. I know, I know. How could we??

So when Amazon comes along, with its “Oh, we’re selling eBooks at a loss to keep our customers happy you evil publishers!” it’s more than little offensive to those of us who honestly love reading and want to spread the good words among the populace, but can’t, because we don’t have any money to do so. Because you know what happens? Amazon knows that they can come back and say: This is the standard; we are now going to give you less money for the same product so that we can sell it for a cheap price.

I realize that the way we do business is not working. And there are many, many problems within the publishing industry. We’re doing our best to catch up.

However, I think that with most book stores, publishers feel a sense of partnership. Amazon is a bully. They want to get their grubby little paws on every aspect of an industry they honestly don’t care all that much about. I keep saying “they” but I should say “Bezos.”

I’ve been talking about him for years, I know. But seriously. Do you know what’s going to happen when Amazon slashes the eBook prices of those books you love so much?

Independents will not be able to compete. Brick and Mortar will not be able to compete. None of us will be able to compete. Because they are a behemoth. Did you know that the agency model actually made Amazon more money? What does that tell you? This isn’t about the profit for them. It’s about the power and squashing the competition.

But we need competition! Do you really want one company controlling what kind of books you do or don’t see? I understand that it shouldn’t be on the shoulder of the readers to see through all of this… that you should be able to just buy the cheapest and have that be that. But if you care about the books you read and the authors who write them and the people who help get them into your hands, think twice about where you’re buying your book. It matters. Books aren’t such a huge moneymaker that we can disregard our customers. Every single book buyer has an effect on all of us. This industry is not doing so well. But we all got into books because we love them. I can personally guarantee that it was not for the money.

And that brings me what is most terrifying about this episode. It’s just another instance of the government supporting Big Business. Not to say, of course, that the Publishers are mom and pops. But, I have a strong feeling that Amazon lobbyists had quite a bit to do with this investigation. This outcome will have a huge effect on independents, as well. In a nation where being a corporation means you have more rights than I do, it’s not all that surprising. Money talks, people. I just wish it wasn’t saying such hateful things.

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Flipping Tables Left and Right

This is really what my life is like during the work day. And this is really how Roommate and I speak to each other.

Me:  (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Me:  ┻━┻ ︵ヽ(`Д´)ノ︵ ┻━┻
TWO TABLES
Him:  okayyyyyy
just gonna
back up slowly
toward the dooooor
(fucking psycho geez)
Me:  (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻
FLYING TABLE
Him:  OK THAT IS QUITE ENOUGH YOUNG LADY
Me:  ┻━┻ ︵ ¯\(ツ)/¯ ︵ ┻━┻
i dun give a fuck flippin tables
P.S. I’m working on a real post, I swear. One that will be smart and will say important words. They  might even be in coherent sentences. Oh, and it will definitely involve a gif or two. I promise.

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