Tag Archives: Hey I’m Indian

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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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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Super Chocolate Brown Bear

So on my way home from a Birthday get together tonight (… by “tonight” I mean four days ago) I was (unfortunately) able to witness the following scenario: a very drunken Mexican man being (not so subtly) mocked by about 10 drunk white hipster kids on the L train. There was no overt racism or hate speech – just the sense that, this was an older drunk person on a train at a time when it is generally crowded by drunk (more often than not white) kids. And this older drunk person was the Other. (p.s. I am loving my parentheticals tonight).

So, as I was saying, I witnessed this event. And it was sad, heart breakingly so. Not to say that I identify with this old not-quite-sober man, but my mind made a connection in this idea of not fitting in.

My world is largely white washed. And I know that, and I know that it’s an effect of how I’ve decided to live my life. Which is to say, in college I deliberately chose a largely non-Indian major: English, and career wise … well, we all know how that turned out. Despite Sonny Mehta, it is still a mostly non-brown profession (although this too, is changing). And generally, I’m okay with all of it – my life that is. Even so, there is this lingering thought that never really goes away of: you are not the same.

Not that “you are not the same” means you (or I) can blame being different for any ills or negative experiences that fall your way. Rather, it’s that you’re not going to find people who understand you. (cue the: NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME).

I don’t pull the race card (in all seriousness) often. It’s usually discussed after I’ve had a few- because as with most Americans, I’m not entirely comfortable discussing the issue of race or ethnicity and what that means as an American citizen.

What does it mean when you’re first generation and you don’t have that common history with your country? I honestly feel connected to the history of America- this is where I grew up. Barring a short 8 – 9 months, I’ve spent my entire life in this country … and yet.

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

(WHINE WHINE WHINE)
… my fingers desperately wanted that to say: SHINE SHINE SHINE.

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.”

… Seriously. Least inventive racist remark ever?

I think this post is just a lot of verbal diarrhea, and there’s no real argument or thought process or beginning or end. I’m not even sure I’ll publish it, it’ll probably sit here for a few days while I try and decide if it’s appropriate, or if it’s too “call the whambulance.

Regardless … for me, whether or not it’s valid or whether it really means anything, there might always be this scratching little thought inside of my brain.

At the same time, I hate for it to sound like race is some decisive factor in my life. It rarely is – it’s more of something I notice, or think about (maybe too much, I don’t know).

… Well, there it is. I don’t know.

Pre-post fun times: I sent this out to two friends to test it out, so to speak, and my favorite half-Asian only had this to say:

“Are you suffering from half-Asian paranoia—i.e. the belief that everything you say/do is wrong or will grab the unwanted attention from weirdos?  Because if you are, welcome to the club, ahahaha.”

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I am, like, so ovur the Internet. (lies)

Remember those days when we could spend forever on the internet perusing tripod  and geocities webpages of our favorite actors and boy bands?  (ahem).

… Maybe it’s just me.

Above is an angelfire site designed by my cousin pre social networking days… and it’s so perfectly indicative of what “cool websites” used to look like, I couldn’t help myself. (please disregard my excessive use of tabs. I have a problem.)

Anyhow, so Internet and I have known each other a long time, more than ten years now I guess. Got my first screenname (via AOL of course… oh shoot, they’re Aol now aren’t they?) at the tender age of 13 – Pretti, for those of you who care. I’m still convinced my brother couldn’t spell my name right, but that’s neither here nor there.

Sidenote: Did you know kids born in 2000 have no idea what the dial up sound means? You all just heard it in your head, didn’t you?

At first, holy crap there was so much to do! So many chatrooms, so many creepy people to talk to!

a/s/l?

And the websites, oh man – ohai backstreet.net

It occurs to me that I’m probably revealing more about myself than I should be – but such is our life on the internet now. Look at my life, read about it, and then comment and tell me what you think about me, please.

Thanks!

So, ten plus years with the internet, I find myself missing that spark, that connectivity we used to share. Those days of yore –

Stumbleupon could have brought that back, but it’s been repeating itself lately and that depressed me far more than it should have.

Is it me? I mean, did I do something to offend you o, Internet Gods?

I kid, I kid. Sort of.

Don’t get me wrong – I would probably die without those series of tubes connecting us all together. I mean, what do you do without the internet? I was out of the country for about a month recently, and every time I got to check my email or update facebook, it was like a fix that I needed.

I’m trying to pinpoint exactly when my trouble started – maybe it’s the explosion of the term Social Media. I’ve bitched about it before here, mostly with regards to my industry of choice.

Wikipedia’s got an interesting definition of the term:

Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers.”

“Democratization of knowledge” and “content producers” just sounds so great, doesn’t it? Of course, then we have to ask, who do we trust as experts, and how do we find these experts in the new world?

I’ve strayed from my point… or maybe created it. Who knows? (OnoesNoseKnows)

How do we find quality? Sometimes, I find myself just cycling through the same sites over and over again, (most of which may or may not be gossip/news blogs because I am a very nosy person). But really, recently I’ve been finding myself just staring at my laptop in consternation, “… What am I supposed to do with you today? I’m not sure I really need anything from you.” Then the apple on the back anthropomorphizes and starts crying. It’s all fairly embarrassing for everyone involved.

But then, even though I don’t necessarily have that same NEED TO BE ONLINE ALL THE TIME OMG, and I know I use our world wide wafting web for different things than I used to – I’ll never really be over the internet. I just love it so hard.

If it weren’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t be half as informed as I was about publishing or ebooks as I am. If it wasn’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t have, you know, 20 friends + 450 that I kind of remember from college and high school. If it wasn’t for LiveJournal, I wouldn’t be able to remember the nerdbomber that I used to be am. (Also, I’d never have met my movie soulmate). I mean thanks to the internet, my cousin can instantaneously gchat me a youtube video, and then say, “This isn’t anything you’re going to be interested in,” and I’m going to click play any way because it opened up right above his head and what the hell, why not? (I was not interested, but I was okay with it).

Dear Internet,

I love you. I love you more than Lady Gaga hates pants. I love you more than Jeff Bezos loves control. I love you so much I don’t think I’ll ever find a boyfriend.

Sometimes, I take advantage of you I know that, and I’m sorry. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. And it doesn’t mean I want you to be regulated or anything. I love you just the way you are. Huge and awkward and free, sometimes lewd and uncomfortable for everyone else in the room. You’re, yeah, wow, lovely.

Thank you for being you, Internet. I’ll never let you go. They’ll have to pry you out of my cold, dead fingers. For sure.

Love, Preeti.

That being said, here’s fun stuff I found on the internet recently.

(This post devolved real quick like, didn’t it?)

Here’s Jake Gyllenhol photobombing the shit out of Ang Lee. Makes me lol irl, srsly.

This is a Crabbit. And it’s what I found when I googled the phrase: “Cat what”
Incredible.

And this is a song from an awesome Indian movie I saw in the theater last Thursday. Then I got home and got to watch it on youtube. (Where I bemoaned Kareena Kapoor’s dancing and ugly, ugly horse face.) (… Please don’t sue me.)

BAI. (happy emoticon.)

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People don’t understand the interwebz

In which I discuss how the internet is “liek blowin’ pplz minds omg.”

Everything in my world right now is telling me that people don’t know how to use the internet. And by people I mean companies. And by companies, I mean the publishing industry.

First we’re scared of it. Oh god, no, we couldn’t get on the (hushed whisper) internet. It will eat books aliiiive! Then we’d be all:

Then the weather changed. Days grew long, then short, then long, and then short (x infinity). Time went on. People got old (but certainly did not retire). Some of them died, I’m sure. May they RIP. But ideas did. not. change.

Mostly because we fear change like the Birthers fear intelligence and Obama. In a crazy, crazy frantic kind of way. Just imagine that the Birthers:Obama::Publishing:Internet!

Who woulda  thunk it.

So fastforward, skipping a few steps because while kinda important, they can’t really compare to this guy (as much as I want them to. sigh):

i ... edited this photo a little.

ohai Jeff Bezos. He brought us [the Almighty, All Powerful] Amazon. Which was great for us lazy, Amuhricans. (I jest, I loved it at first site as well). GEDDIT? ho, ho, ho. Anyhow, so Jeffy brought us Amazon. Those of us who could read, well… those of us who chose to read (we, the minority) could find a shit ton of books and have it come to OUR HOUSE. omg. it was like ebay. but better. I bought all my GRE books on Amazon, what. It was cheap, it was convenient. And you know what, who cares about brick & mortor stores anyway? I mean, really. (o hay thar key stroke!) I mean, the only people who hung out at Barnes & Noble were scraggly emo kids who wanted Starbucks and dirty photobooks. Or music theory. Whatever.

And then the Kindle. This is where the Orwellian Mr. Bezos (we weren’t friends anymore) stepped on the wrong game. We readers generally don’t have a problem with e-readers. I don’t mind the Sony Reader, for example. But shoot, this isn’t supposed to turn into an evisceration of B-dawg. No, no. Nothin’ but … a vehement dislike on my end. Just some fist shaking, etc. (if you do want further info on why he scares me and my love of literary difference within our world, take a hard read here.)

It’s more that, when this happened. Perhaps we should have figured out, hey, maybe we should work with this new thing called: Teh Int-er-net?

… Of course not. We were still pretty much:

But instead of crawling slowly back into the dark, we figured a better idea would be to LETS  OMG GUYS WE HAVE TO GET ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB RIGHT NOW DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT WE HAVE TO BE ON EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW?!… Which is fine, okay, whatever. But this is done without any real understanding the medium that we all decided was perfect. Social networking. AKA social media. (“It has Media in its title, obviously we’re supposed to use it. Duh.”)

Welcome to Publishing: Facebook groups, Twitter accounts, blogs, et cetera et cetera et cetera. So quoth the king. (of And I fame). Oh, and let’s not forget how journalism has devolved into blogging. In print. Which I whole heartedly feel is hurting them even more than the internet is. They’re just pansies.

It’s nauseating. So, now people are harping on how print is dead and that the world is changing and so on and so forth. There will be changes, yes. The internet is not, however, our savior. It’s too unbridled, too big, and too intangible to completely fix everything that is wrong with this business. I say, PRINT WILL HAVE IT’S REVENGE. MWHA HA HA HA HA. (/evil laughter)

Wow, got a little serious for a hot minute over here.

(I’ll fix that): It keeping with this post, it’s funny and sad at the same time. Not that I think I’m that funny. Obviously. Shoot. I just ruined this blog by being an asshole, didn’t I?

I was going to end it right there, but WordPress just told me that there were six hundred and sixty-six words in the post. I both don’t like the thought of it because why tempt fate and I don’t need any more reasons for my friends (The Christians) to think I’m a crazy heathen who thwarts God’s will by existing. And tempting fate.

Uh, yeah. Awkward. Peace, guys.

And a video because I know you guys like things that are flashy:

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