Being Indian Is Hard

Social Issues

  • Author Janya Srivastava
  • Published August 2, 2023
  • Word count 898

Being an Indian is hard. The racism and prejudice that Indians endure on a daily basis have long gone unnoticed. The injustice shown to them has not yet been adequately recognized or brought to light. If you ask someone to name the different types of skin colors, I'm confident the first two they'll say are white or black. Mistreatment of this group of individuals, like the color brown, is ignored or pushed to the end of the conversation. Racism against black people has been widely recognized in recent years, which has resulted in the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Nevertheless, as a fifteen-year-old Indian-Canadian girl, it makes me wonder: what about a brown lives matter movement? Why not Brown History Month? Black History Month was established to highlight Africans' efforts, but what about Indians' contributions and accomplishments?

I could give hundreds of examples of racism directed at Indians. When Indians eat lunch in the cafeteria, they get comments like "Where's your curry?" or people making fun of the amount of hair brown people have, or they mock us using the stereotype "Indian accent," which, by the way, no Indian-Canadians actually have. Racism against Indians has become acceptable to the point where it is now considered normal. When we have racist encounters, many of us probably shrug it off; I know I do, but it's frustrating. And disrespectful. Even saying "black" offends some people these days, and one is labeled a "racist" in return. Yet, by using the Indian stereotype, people make fun of our culture and of us as individuals, and when bystanders hear this, instead of addressing the disrespectful remark, they laugh. And this repeated occurrence has resulted in the normalization of racism against Indians. To blend in, even Indians make fun of themselves at this point. I've seen Indians on TikTok make fun of the Indian accent because it's humorous, and they say it's okay if they do it because they're Indian. Yet, this is not okay. Simply put, racism against Indians should not be allowed in any form or by anyone.

As a teenage Indian-Canadian girl, I have noticed and experienced that an Indian will always be less than a white person. An Indian girl may be the smartest, most athletic, or most talented person in the room, yet she will be seen as less than another white girl. A brown individual will have to work twice as hard to compete with a white person. And it’s hard for us to fit in. Living in a "white country" people prefer the white girl over the brown girl. Many brown girls acquire a fixation with fitting in or becoming popular in order to experience what it is like to be popular and to experience the attention that another white girl in their grade can receive. Personally, I've always thought that my brown skin tone has kept me from reaching further limits. I've often wondered what it would be like if I were white. And I'm sure many other Indian-Canadian girls have as well. I’ve wondered how I'd be more popular, how more boys would like me, or how my academic achievements would be more recognized. I have seen some white girls have everything I want and deserve. For instance, even though I received a perfect score on the test, they are the ones who are being recognized despite having a lower grade. Kids of color all throughout the world, specifically in “white countries,” endure similar discrimination.

Our media also lacks proper representation of people of brown color. Growing up, there would be white or black family-based sitcoms on Disney Channel, but never brown family-based sitcoms. I've never really seen Indian characters in the many books I've read throughout my life, and I've never noticed Indian lead characters in the American television shows I watch. Indian characters are sometimes seen as side characters and are always portrayed unfairly. These Indian characters are always immensely smart geeks who no one loves, are extremely awkward, have no friends, and have odd Indian stereotype accents. These characters are not relatable. Instead, they are characters who are used to generate comedic laughter. A perfect example of this is Ravi Ross from the popular Disney sitcom Jessie. His character was, indeed, funny. However, it is not acknowledged that the elements that make him humorous are exaggerated Indian stereotypes. Things like this have influenced people to mock and laugh at Indians in the same way they probably laughed at Ravi Ross when they were younger. Evidently, the media has not done an adequate job of representing and portraying brown people.

To conclude, Indians around the world, primarily in "white countries," endure racism and discrimination on a daily basis; however, this is not recognized by people due to how normalized racism and discrimination against brown people have become. Indians all around the world have enormous potential, but there are numerous unseen barriers that prevent brown people from reaching their full potential. We can correct this and advance human equality even further if we begin to acknowledge the maltreatment of Indians and recognize that any kind of it is unacceptable. The media also needs more fair brown depictions of Indians in the limelight, which can positively affect people's stereotypes of Indians. Together, we can make a difference and make our common home, Earth, a far better place where everyone may stand on equal footing.

Hello, I'm Janya Srivastava from Kitchener, Ontario. I'm 15 years old and have a strong Indian background. I enjoy writing on social topics that are personally relevant to me because I want to improve society for the better.

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