It's 2017, I Should Not Be Your Only Brown Friend

It's 2017, I Should Not Be Your Only Brown Friend

In the world we live in today, people are so quick to judge you once they find out just one thing about who you are.
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Growing up, I had a pretty diverse friend group. I am Indian, my best friend is Latina and my other best friend is Asian. So, I am used to learning about different cultures, eating unique foods, and learning bits and pieces of different languages. Going into college, I was super excited to meet what would be my college friends and continue to learn about people who came from very different life paths than me.

One day as I was sitting in my friend’s dorm, the topic of diversity within our friend group came up. At that point, one of my guy friends mentioned how he had never been friends or really known any Indian people before coming to college. This took me by surprise. I asked him, “so I am the first Indian person you have ever been friends with?” He replied, slightly embarrassed, with a yes. He went on to say how he didn’t know much about the Indian culture and that he had never even tried South Asian cuisine before. After seeing my reaction, my friend explained how he grew up in a really small town where everyone knew each other and everyone was Caucasian. Where he was from, there wasn’t really an opportunity to meet people who were Indian or Latino or anything other than white for that matter. The limited diversity in his hometown was what motivated him to go outside of his comfort zone and attend a college that is known to be quite diverse and inclusive.

After hearing his story and understanding where he came from, I instantly became fascinated by the concept of being the first person within your race to interact with a particular individual. The idea that the impression that I give him about my culture is what he will use as his baseline knowledge on the culture as a whole is actually quite profound if you think about it. My friend knew nothing about Indian people. To him, people who looked like me or my dad or my brother were the people painted across the news every night characterized as terrorists. Since he had never really known or met any Indian people before, he fell into the trap many people nowadays do and believed the stereotypes perpetuated by the media. The silver lining to this is that in the few months that we were developing our friendship as freshmen in college, I was actually normalizing his perception of brown people without even realizing it. Through multiple conversations on my pride for my culture and my love for samosas, my friend began to realize how wrong of a perception he had. All brown people are not what you see on the news and also not necessarily what you see in Bollywood movies either. Brown people are normal people with normal lives which is something that my friend realized throughout the course of our friendship. This fact is what moved me the most.

One of the most difficult things to do is explain to someone why generalizing and stereotyping is wrong. You can explain to someone all day how all people are unique and different and how you cannot group people of a similar whatever together. However, despite those countless explanations, people still go throughout their everyday lives stereotyping people in their head. The fact that I was able to make my friend realize why his stereotyping was wrong through simply educating him on my culture and what it actually stands for really touched me.

In the world we live in today, people are so quick to judge you once they find out just one thing about who you are. Oh, you’re brown, you must be a terrorist. Oh, you are Christian, you must hate gay people. Oh, you’re an immigrant, you must have come here illegally. The list goes on and on and it is simply a cycle we must break. This can only happen with compassion and education. People will never learn to accept who others truly are if they lack the compassion required to take the time to understand. Further, you cannot always just assume people know about a specific facet of your identity; sometimes you have to teach them. Educating people is the only way for people to learn what is the truth and what are the reasons or justifications on a certain issue that they have just made up in their head.

Therefore, I urge everyone to do their part in helping this cause. Educate the people around you about facets of your identity that they maybe do not know much about. Do so with compassion and with the understanding that some people may walk away still thinking the same way as they did before and others will walk away having learned something new. Even if you effect only one person, you still made a difference. You still made someone realize that all Indian people aren’t bad people. You still made someone try curry for the first time. You still made someone look at you as a friend and not a foe. And honestly, trying to make a difference is all anyone can really ask you to do.

Cover Image Credit: Nidhi Singh

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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The N-Word Doesn’t Belong To Anyone But Black People, Not Even South Asians

Who the hell said it was okay?

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The N-word has been extremely controversial, from white celebrities using it, to debates on whether non-black people can say it when singing a song.

First, let's get a couple things straight. It's a racial slur that slave masters used to dehumanize their slaves. There is history and context behind the word. Even today, there are some people that use the word as a means to oppress black people. Nowadays though, the black community has taken ownership of the word and uses it as empowerment.

That's the black community though. They're the ones that can use that word, because they are the ones that have a long history with the N-word, and they are the ones that are actively affected by it.

It has been made very clear in society that white people cannot say the N-word. But for some reason, the South Asian community feels they have a right to say it. But - newsflash - we don't. I can't even count how many times I have heard a South Asian person call someone else the N-word. I understand it's not meant in a derogatory manner, but no matter what, using that word is not okay.

And I get it, a lot of times, growing up, we feel like we have to choose between the two main cultures in America: white culture or black culture. We are grouped with black people when referred to as 'people of color' so it's easy to choose black culture. We quickly pick up on the slang, music, etc.

The thing is, we don't have to face the same struggles as black people. Instead, we're allies. I'm not saying we don't face our own struggles, because we definitely have a specially tailored type of racism to face, but it's just not the same.

While you might feel cool saying it, at the end of the day, it's offensive. We have no right to the n-word, even if we're alone or just singing it in a song. It's not appropriate even if your black friend approves of you using it.

As allies of the black community and as people who respect black people and culture, it's time we actively find fault with this issue. We need to stop using it and we need to call out people who do. And if that's too hard, grow up.

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