I have spent my whole life hearing about racism. I am an Indian woman, who has spent some time living in India, so everyone around me expects that I have experienced harsh comments on the color of my skin. Whether that be regarding my grades, how I spend my money, or even my core values. Sure, I hear about racism all the time on the news, but I have never actually had any such encounters in my life. It’s strange for me, considering that I know my parents have had to fight Indian stereotypes their entire lives, and it’s even stranger for my peers. I live in a predominantly white, very privileged community. Therefore, with my brown skin it seems that I get some kind of pity pass for the horrible racism I must have endured. Being Indian has never been a disadvantage to me. It is just simply who I am. There is nothing I can do to change that, nor would I. And up until recently I had not wondered whether I was ignoring the racism that was staring me right in the face or if I was just incredibly lucky.
I was raised in a very privileged way. I was always told that I was special and had no idea that being Indian could cause me to be treated or perceived differently than anyone else. However, I was not a normal kid. I lived in several wealthy communities and attended the best schools. I was in no way conditioned to people treating me at all differently. My mindset is that everyone is equal, without any debate. We are all humans, and that means we are truly the same. That was only my cookie-cutter perception of life, and I know millions of Indian people do not have such a luxury.
So I understand that my privilege acts like a sort of shield for racism, but the racism still exists, right? My parents both have somewhat the same skin color as me, and have been stereotyped based off of that since they have moved to America. I think because of that, they see racism everywhere. They see it in restaurants when tables with white people get served before we do, even though the white people ordered after us. They also see it in the way we are treated in airports and post offices. I have never had that mindset. Whenever they bring up such issues to me, I automatically have an excuse for the party that my parents consider to be racist. I would say something like, “oh, the waiter must be getting our food now” or “maybe the person helping us is having a really bad day.” I can’t say for sure why I did this. I think it is just that I have a hard time believing that ordinary people could be racist to us. I naturally have the notion that it is not possible for people to be racist to me just based on my skin color. My parents don’t see the world that way, since they were not raised the way they raised me.
Racism definitely exists in our world, yet I don’t see it the way everyone else seems to. That obviously does not negate the racism. It actually only complicates it more. In all of the media I see, racism is portrayed in a single way. In reality, all of us people of color view it differently based on our pasts.