Q: What ethnicity are you?
A: I am Indian.
Q: How did your ethnicity affect the way you grew up?
A: My dad, when he first moved here from India, went to the University of Tennessee. There were basically no Indian people there. A lot of people there called him the ‘n’ word because they thought he was African American. I guess they never thought there were Indians at school so my father had a lot of bias against him. I guess his story really hasn’t really affected me that much, but it has made me wary of other races until recently, when I started to remind myself that people of other races are no different from people like me.
Q: What is like to live in an area with such racial diversity?
A: I think it’s good to have diversity and I’m very accustomed to racial jokes. I know that a lot of people find them offensive, but because I live here, these racial jokes don’t offend me that much. I find myself poking fun at aspects of my own race sometimes but stop myself from doing that because I realize that some people can really get offended by that kind of stuff. Overall, diversity has made me accustomed to different groups of people.
Q: Has your ethnicity or race ever been an obstacle for you?
A: Not in this community. People here are so used to seeing people of other races. When I do go to the Midwest or New Jersey, those kind of places, I see a lot of racial discrimination against people. You go to a store, people will treat you differently because of race. People try to overcharge you for something because you’re Indian. Other than that, my own ethnicity has not been that much of an obstacle for me.
Q: How do you feel about the way that American shows and movies portray your race?
A: I know that it happens, but honestly, if you look at Indian movies, we do the same thing to other races. For example, it is common for Indian popular media to use the stereotypes of white people such as having very pale skin, blond hair, and a general ignorance about other cultures. It happens everywhere, and I feel like it’s inevitable.
Q: How do you feel about stereotypes such as those that portray Indians liking STEM?
A: I understand why that happens. I understand that the media is trying to play to the crowd that does not know much about other people. If people make mild jokes like “brown people like curry” and not super serious jokes like “black people get arrested,” I got used to it because people tend to make those jokes in middle school. I understand if you make jokes like, “you’re Indian so you must be vegetarian,” when in fact a lot of Indians are.