Archive of ‘Racism and other shit’ category
I have a story to tell you guys. You might not believe it. But I swear, it’s all true. Every stinking word of it.
When I was younger, well…I wasn’t really a hit with the boys. I know. I KNOW. This is hard to believe since now I am so obviously ridiculously, ridiculously good looking and charming. But suspend your disbelief for just one minute, however hard that might be and go back in time with me.
When I hit my teens, I was awkward and shy. A bit pudgy, with braces and Jersey hair so big and so wide that it made Medusa look like she was a shampoo commercial model. Friends, it was bad.
But then things changed. The pounds fell off when I ran cross country. A teeny weeny eating disorder didn’t hurt either (another story, another day). The braces came off and I figured out (somewhat) how to work with the mop that God (yes, thank you for that God) gave me.
So around 16, I blossomed. Ok, maybe that’s too strong of a word. I wouldn’t say that I went through a case of the ugly duckling turning into a swan. Nothing that dramatic! But I was a more attractive duckling, which was progress and which helped confirm that a daily dietary supplement of my mother’s samosas was not conducive to weight loss.
I also got the whole facial hair thing under control. SCORE! This achievement involves a serious fist pull. You see, I’m Indian. And I have dark, coarse hair. And it sprouted on my face with a profound enthusiasm that I could not match, much less conquer alone. After a very unfortunate incident with a bottle of Nair when I was 13, I finally became a pro at using hot wax. No easy feat for a young teen with a small forest growing on her face.
So now, I no longer had a moustache that rivaled that of Mr. Kakos, my very Greek AP English teacher. Huge improvement folks.
And so all this happened. And I started hearing the word. Pretty. And people were using it to describe me. ME. Well, sometimes. Again, just roll with me here.
I’m in the second row – 1st on the left.
And yet friends, though I bought the milkshakes to the yard with all these changes, nobody came a-knocking at my door. Sure, we had some Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, but other than that – nothing. My phone wasn’t ringing off the hook either.
I had guy friends who were great, but nobody was romantically interested in me. I use the word romantically loosely, because we were in high school and all I knew about romance, I learned from watching Guiding Light and Fred and Daphne’s obvious sexcapades on Scooby Doo.
Was it the knowledge that not so long ago, I slightly resembled a yeti? Was it the fact that any time someone did call me, my strict, Indian father would interrogate them relentlessly?
“How do you know her?” Um. School, Papa.
“What do you want to talk about?” Math. Like, duh.
“How many girls have you deflowered?” Ok. No he didn’t. But I am sure he wanted to.
I remember being in the cafeteria one day hanging out with a guy I had been friends with for a while who I had a huge crush on. For the sake of this story we will call him Don*, because a few friends from high school read my blog. He said something really sweet to me. Something absentmindedly and God I don’t remember what it was. I think it was something like “Oh Kiran, you’re so great” accompanied by an affectionate nudge on the shoulder.
I recognize now that you say things like this to lost puppies and sympathy crushes. You know, to people you know that like you, but who you don’t have feelings for.
At the time though, I wasn’t that cool. (I know, I told you to suspend your disbelief!). So I mustered up my courage and said, “Well, Don. You know I think you’re great too.” And I could have left it at that.
But no friends. I did not. I did NOT leave it at that. Instead, I added, “Like, yeah. Like, I like you.” Fucking idiot I was. When over 50% of your sentence uses the word like, you officially qualify as a moron.
This is when Don said to me, “Well, Kiran, I like you too.”
“But you know I can’t date you.”
“Why?” I asked, perplexed.
“Because of what you are.”
I paused for a second. Wow. Harsh!
“Wait. Because I’m smarter than you?”
The next thing I know, the bell rings and we are surrounded by friends and apparently the boys aren’t dating me because of my lack of milkshakes but because I’m smarter. Well, at least I knew what the problem was.
When I told my friends about what happened though, they saw things a little differently than me.
“Because of what you ARE?!!”
“Yeah. Because I’m smart.”
“No, Kiran. Because you’re Indian!” my friends informed me. Apparently he had been overheard talking about it with a friend and had been a bit more clear about my unsavory characteristics.
Every other brush with dating in high school ended disastrously. I wasn’t often in the running, but when I was, it was not usually very smooth sailing.
And you know, while it sucked that a guy didn’t like me because I was Indian, I kind of am still proud of my first response. Because that’s who I was. I was a smart little cookie. Sure, I had shitty taste in footballin’ men, but I had some balls to take a chance and tell someone I liked them. It took courage for me to do that. And sometimes having courage is a lot more important than getting to make out with the high school quarterback. That’s the story I’m sticking to anyway.
Stay tuned for more adventures in awkward, Indian teenage dating….
Live from Lisbon, Portugal, where I should have been in bed a LONG time ago.
The other day (okay, a few weeks ago), I was working out at the gym, taking a break between sets during an intense leg workout. Well, let’s be honest. It was a leg workout, made intense by the fact that it involved work.
I don’t know what triggered the thought, but as I finished taking a sip from my water bottle, I remember thinking to myself,
“If a shooter were to walk in right now and start shooting up this place, would I have anywhere to hide? Where is the emergency exit? Do I know how to play dead?”
Not so bizarre. Not anymore.
I find myself thinking about those things more and more these days. I don’t think it’s hubris – I’ve never been one to be paranoid about protecting my life. I will jump on a trans-Atlantic flight, go on the most daredevil, heart-pounding roller-coaster and can go on a passionate carbohydrate binge that would have me banned from South Beach forever.
When I was in elementary school, we did fire and safety drills all the time. Every year, the firemen would come in and reiterate the same message about how the real dangers of fire were not in the flames, initially, but in the fumes.
“Stop! Drop! And ROLL!” We were taught and we would have to demonstrate one by one that we knew how to do the roll.
“Roll away from the smoke!” The firemen would indicate where the fake smoke was coming from.
And we would have to get on the floor and roll down the hallway or the pavement, with our arms pressed against our sides.
And now I wonder if I am supposed to be teaching my children how to play, “Stop. Drop. And play dead” instead.
I watched the news the day of the Newtown shooting from my office. When I first saw word of the gun shooting online, it had estimated two dead. When I was leaving the office to grab lunch and passed by the TV, my heart dropped when I saw the revised numbers.
A few of my colleagues were standing with me and one of them said, “Yeah, just watch the gun control freaks have a field day with this one.”
My idea of field day is quite different than anything I saw in the news that day or in the following weeks about what happened in Newtown. See, having a field day involves doing things like a 50 yard dash or playing tug of war. Jumping towards a finish line in a potato sack.
It doesn’t involve children being slaughtered to death.
“It’s not guns that kill people!” my co-worker explained. “People kill people.”
Yeah. No shit, Sherlock. People kill people. Usually with guns.
Of course there are other weapons and other means to kill. But that doesn’t mean that anything has the power of an assault weapon of the caliber used in Newtown.
So call me a freak. But first call me an American.
I am an American. Born and raised on this soil, I am proud of my country. I’m a patriot. I love my country. Like most things I love, like my husband, my children, my family, my friends and even myself – I love my country, not with the false belief that it is perfect. I am under no illusions that my country is perfect.
A blind love is never a healthy love, you see.
Being a patriot to this country is not just in honoring those who fight in the name of this country. It’s not standing with a hand on my heart during the pledge or even the fact that I often cry during the National Anthem.
Being a patriot to this country also means acknowledging the imperfections that tarnish the soil that we love. It means acknowledging that what was done to the Native Americans in a quest to drive them away from their homes was a travesty. It means acknowledging the stains of our own intolerance in the Japanese internment camps that were a part of this land.
“This lands was made for you and me.” It’s a beautiful song. But it’s hardly one that we have always sung together.
Being an American patriot means acknowledging that slavery existed in this country even while the Founding Fathers were writing a document that we immortalize with reverence. There was a time when American fought against American in this land because of the difference in opinion that we could “own” the bodies of other men and women. Our fellow brothers and sisters. It means recognizing that segregation in this country existed until just a few decades ago.
So I’m an American. I love this country but I won’t ignore the flaws of our past and look at anything in our history or any document in our history as beyond questioning. As unquestionable or perfect in any way.
The Founding Fathers. They were mortals. They wrote the Constitution under the crushing pressure of trying to obtain freedom from England.
They were people who made mistakes. They were people who did not have a crystal ball. They were Renaissance men, the lot of them, yet they had no concept of things like the Industrial Revolution. They never imagined cars. They didn’t ever foresee large vessels that could fly across oceans in the air or do the same things in the deepest recesses of our oceans.
They never saw a television. They never saw a man walk on the moon. They never imagined the mass production and unethical means in which we would harvest our animals. They never had the internet. Or a phone. Or electricity.
They owned muskets. They had harpoons.
They never imagined gang wars. They never saw the technology that could create guns that could kill so many people so quickly. They never saw an AK-47 blow someone’s head off. They never imagined the number of civilian deaths, that would take place and grow each year on American soil
I will tell you one thing. They never imagined Columbine. They never imagined Newtown.
“Don’t take away my Second Amendment freedoms!”
Settle down. First of all, let’s stop looking at this as religious scripture. And stop attacking anyone who asks if guns should not be better regulated in this country. Well, if the laws we have are not enforced, then we don’t need more laws. We need enforcement and we need laws that make sense.
I feel like we are sitting at a critical juncture as a country. There will be another shooting. There might be another Newtown. There is just a sense of when, how, where? that I feel smothers us like a blanket.
I just want to know why I feel like the moment I question better regulation, people feel like their rights to own guns are being threatened? Hey, nobody’s saying you can’t hunt. Nobody’s saying you can’t own guns for self-defense. Heck, keep your arsenal for your hypothetical militia.
We have a problem here. An epidemic, if you will. Why is proper licensing of guns not considered acceptable? Why are more stringent licensing practices not being issued?
I keep hearing, “Well people will get guns without licenses!”
Probably. But it will be illegal and they should be penalized under the law. A person cannot legally drive in this country without getting a license. It doesn’t mean that people aren’t driving illegally every day. But that’s no excuse to stop overseeing it.
And why do we do that? Why do we require driver’s licenses? Because we like waiting online at the DMV? Because we like the way we look in the pictures? Does anyone actually like to go through the process of car inspections, vehicle registrations and wasting half a day at the DMV. Every stupid year? For every vehicle you own?
No. It’s a goddamn pain in the ass is what it is. But you do it. And it makes sense.
We do it because we know the power we hold behind the wheel. We know that we can kill, we can destroy, we can maim if we don’t know what we’re doing.
So why then? Why, why would we allow people to own guns without the appropriate training? Without appropriate documentation of what guns are where? And if it’s because we are going to talk about the people needing a way to raise a militia against the government, the people who are raging about wanting to have a right to raise a militia are usually the people I would NEVER want to see raise a militia.
That’s right. You people scare me.
I don’t know what will happen if I am at that gym in a middle of a workout and a gunman comes in raging. I haven’t thought through that yet. But I know that I think about my children every day. And my friends’ children. And my neighbors’ children.
And I’m not ready to teach them to stop, drop and play dead.
Something needs to change.
When adults would read me Snow White as a child, I always marveled at the beautiful Princess’s beauty. Her loving mother had wished for a daughter with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hair as black as coal.
Wow. She sounds pretty.
Except…. (Sound of a record scratching)
Back the fuck up, yo.
Skin as WHITE as snow?