Anti-Blackness within the Indian Community.

This message may apply to many communities, but I can only speak from my perspective as an Indian who was born and raised in Minnesota.

Finding the words for this post has been difficult, but I know that importance exists in being as frank as possible. Many of you need to read this. I am tired of having social or political discussions with aunties and uncles who make me feel small, and who are comfortable in their moderate ways. Many of them use the excuse that they worked hard to immigrate to this country, and had to build their lives here with little support, as a way to argue that other communities should be able to do the same. They do not recognize that others may not have the same resources or may not be treated the same way. Their hard work is appreciated and admired, but it does not excuse them from being racist or hiding behind the walls of the privileges that they do have.

As many know, George Floyd was murdered by the police a little over a month ago right here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and while he is not the first person to fall victim to police brutality, his murder has instilled an awakening that, I hope, does not fade in the same way that it has in the past. This should go without saying, but Black lives are more than a way to fill your social media timelines for a week to exude your awareness. We care because we are all people, and liberation for oneself cannot occur without the liberation of every community.

While people of color face challenges that our white counterparts will never know or understand, I never consciously worried about my Indian friends, my family, or myself being beaten by the police here in the United States as I was growing in my bubble of a hometown. From an early age, Black children are instructed on how to act around police, white folks, and in professional settings not only because of how people in these situations will perceive them, but because their lives depend on it.

I have heard a lot of Indians complain about protests and looting over the past few weeks. I have heard a lot of “those people” statements. I have heard many say that the changes being requested and made are “too radical” (because, apparently, wanting to live and be treated well is a radical notion). The folks who are quick to say how hard they have worked are the same ones who are quick to judge the Black community for “not doing the same.” I have also heard an overwhelming amount of silence. Many Indians live comfortably, drive nice cars, have extravagant weddings, pay for their children to partake in as many extra-curricular activities as they desire (among other things), but have failed to donate even a single cent to the Black Lives Matter movement. In other words, they have failed to assist their own communities. Many of my Indian family friends are doctors. How can they work in healthcare and fail to address the harm that the Black community faces? Silence is harmful. The comments that you make behind close doors are harmful. Your inactivity is harmful.

One may find everything that I have written in this post thus far troubling or hard to digest, but let’s take the concept of anti-Blackness within the Indian community a step further. For as long as I can remember, fascination with lighter skin tones has consumed much of Indian media, Bollywood, and social situations in general. Black folks are viewed as less than even in India, and many of them have written about their experiences regarding their treatment. This is sad. This is a problem. This most certainly is a human rights and race issue. Whether conscious or subconscious, these judgments stay with those who immigrate to the United States, and Indians are quick to view themselves as superior without fully examining the history of how Black people have been treated in this country (let alone on a global scale). Furthermore, while glorifying lighter skin, I’ve seen many Indians appropriate Black culture at the same time. You are not Black just because you are brown. You are not Black just because you are a person of color. One cannot pick and choose what they like and dislike from other cultures and use these qualities to make themselves funnier or more attractive or cooler or however it makes them feel.

The opportunities that other communities of color, and particularly we as Indians, enjoy in this country lie on the activism and suffering of the Black community. While this is true, fighting for Black lives is not transactional. One should not need to validate the Black community’s existence to care. One should not feel obligated to care. We care about the Black community because Black folks deserve to live and prosper without fear flowing through their bodies. Black people deserve support because they are human beings. I cannot believe that I even have to write any of this, but again, some of you have still failed to comprehend something that should just be a given.

This post may have an angry tone. That being said, I am angry and those who read this should be too. I refuse to be surrounded by Indians who cannot acknowledge that the Black community matters. If you are Indian and you stereotype and appropriate Black culture, and/or you do not actively care about Black lives, you should be aware that your ignorance is showing. You are being disrespectful. You are being selfish. Do better. I could write pages about all of this, but hopefully this post has an impact on some and encourages them to improve.

Whether you are Indian or not, I urge you to ask yourself this question: Are you participating in this movement because you actually care or are you just participating because of how you would look if you refused to acknowledge it?

a small list of resources & donation links (please remember that you could have researched all of this yourself…now that I have done it for you, you do not have an excuse to avoid expanding your minds and opening your purses):
– Black Lives Matter donation page: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019
– a list of Black-owned businesses to support in the Twin Cities: http://mspmag.com/arts-and-culture/black-owned-businesses-in-the-twin-cities/
– a list of Black-owned businesses & brands (that can be found at stores near you) across the United States: https://www.glamour.com/story/support-black-owned-business // https://nymag.com/strategist/article/black-owned-businesses-support-shop.html
– donating to the Black trans community: https://www.elle.com/culture/career-politics/a32839834/black-trans-lgbtq-organizations/
– the FIRST Black-owned bookstore in Minnesota (I’m excited!): https://www.blackgarnetbooks.com/
– Reclaim the Block has a list of community groups that need support: https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/donate // bit.ly/fundthecommunity
– article written by Ezeugo Nnmadi Lawrence on being a Black man in India: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/let-s-talk-about-racism-kallu-was-the-first-word-this-african-man-learnt-in-india/story-f04HSkREMwyIBh3GlO3DDM.html

Manifestation, Karma, and Questions.

I cannot help but believe strongly in manifestation. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I think that the energy we give to our dreams and fears has a direct impact on what happens to us. I am so careful about the thoughts that I channel, and while this can eat away at me, I would rather not risk having one sour outlook or idea influence the course of my life. My conscience can overwhelm me so much that I question every action I have ever made. This balancing act can be hard, and I also just need to loosen up from time and remind myself that I am a great person and that my heart is in the right place. I think that I struggle with all of this because I feel as though I have to prove myself, but to whom? Those in my life see me as a great person (or so I have been told), and after a logical assessment, I believe this about myself as well.

While I am not particularly religious (I have qualms with organized religion at the very least and how much religion dictates people’s actions at the very most), I do center myself around some aspects of spirituality. This being said, I still have not arrived at any conclusions as to whether I believe that a higher being exists or karma exists or whether I should just accept things as they are, no strings attached. I feel as though I am waiting for an answer to appear in front of me, but with every answer arises a loophole. I have collected a couple of my journal entries over the past year that address these battles within my mind.

“The idea of innocence is quite interesting because in one’s eyes, you could be fighting for what is right, but in another’s you could be incorrect. How do you know? Or does it matter? It might matter if you believe in karma or God or heaven, but maybe accepting every happenstance at face value is better. What do you say to people who are sacrificing their lives for others’ lives or a greater cause? Does the act only matter if it is successful? How do you define success? I think, given that the human life is so short, deciding what movements or sacrifices are worth one’s life can be difficult. Why shorten our lives more? I guess this also depends on whether we live for ourselves or for the greater good…whether we exist to give back.” – a part of my April 4th journal entry

“People say that the energy one exudes is what they receive (including myself), but how far does this venture? It does not explain losing someone, death, or why bad things happen to good people. I spend so much time analyzing the human condition and fate and spirituality, but I am never any closer to reaching answers.” – a part of my October 11th journal entry

Due to the lack of clarity in my own mind, I try to err on the side of safety. Of course, this is not difficult for me because I already do my best to live my life with kindness and compassion at its forefront, but I do experience negative or harsh thoughts about a situation or person just like everyone else does. Altruism at its core has an air of selfishness and we would be kidding ourselves if we believed otherwise. At the very least, the love that we give to others makes us feel great in turn.

Additionally, gratitude is a huge component of my previously mentioned points. We all have complaints, and we all wish for some aspect of our lives to be better, even if we are content. To do either of these is not necessarily bad, but I do think that if we fixate on them, our lives will never be how we want them to be. I am hesitant to complain, or feel guilty when doing so, because I am always thinking about the ideas that I am manifesting, and I worry that if I do complain, the world will find some way to make my current issue more unpleasant for me. In many stories, when a character is granted a wish, and they eagerly make one, the wish comes back to them in some unpleasant way later. This may be fictional, but I personally try to wish for people or for someone who needs help more than I do because I, once again, am erring on the side of caution, and I know that I can find joy as long as those around me are happy and healthy.

Of course I feel as though my life is falling apart from time to time. I have been struggling greatly with this recently. I spend each day scrambling to gather the pieces and I find myself drowning within my lows. I have projected this onto myself and others, and even find myself internally fixating on all that is wrong. At the same time, I put myself under lots of pressure to think and act “better,” because if I have this mindset, good things will come. With this, I am back to reminding myself that positivity is a privilege, and I must remain realistic and aware along with being hopeful. My mind keeps running in circles while my life whizzes past me. As I mentioned, the balancing act is difficult and I am not sure it can be mastered as long as I think this existentially. I have to come to terms with this, though, and manifest, act, and focus on whatever makes me the best version of myself (not that I always have to be).

(I am a very existential person, so I have plenty more more to say regarding the topics discussed here. Let me know if you’d like to see more of this content!)

With All Due Respect.

why do men think that they can disrespect me
when I am the one who has shouldered their falls
when I am the one who built them into the humans whom their children will aspire to be
when I am the one who carried their bags and left mine on the side of the road
when I am the one who wiped their tears while rivers were flowing out of my own eyes
when I am the one who sacrificed so much of my life just to see them smile

they tell me that I am a powerful woman
that they are honored to know me
that they told their mothers and best friends about me
only to avoid committing to me the next day

frankly
I have labored too greatly to be cheated
to be ghosted
to be viewed as the problem
to be used
to be heartbroken

frankly
I have given too much
to deal with someone who acts as though he does not care about me
or views me as an option

and with all due respect
none of them would be successful or loved where they are now
without me
but they will not admit it

even after all of this time
I only encounter disrespect



Get it Together, Natasha.

Admittedly, I have been very angry and disappointed with myself this year. Most of my journal entries entail me telling myself that I need to be a better person. Do I not have my life together? Am I a toxic friend, leader, and human being? Am I welcome in this space? Am I too loud? Are my friends going to leave me? Do people enjoy my presence? Why am I not prettier? Why can’t I look better in pictures? Why do I not have a six pack yet? Why am I not a better advocate? Why do I not know more about this elected official or that situation? Why am I not rising at five in the morning every day to run? Why am I late? Why did I make a snappy comment? Why have I not answered more questions in class? Why are my Spotify playlists lacking? Why am I not publishing a blog post every few days? Why am I not helping my community more? Why did I allow this person to speak over me or for me? Why was my tone a little flat while singing that note? Am I qualified for this position? Am I qualified for this job? Am I too selfish? Why do I have such high standards for everyone in my life? Should I push everyone away to avoid being hurt? I focus so greatly on spreading love, but should I stop? Do I love too much? Do I feel too deeply?

I feel guilty for being positive because I keep reminding myself that positivity is a privilege. I feel guilty for practicing self-care or self-love because, in my mind, I have not had the experiences or accomplished enough to deserve it. I have not overcome enough to deserve it. How can I take time for myself or recharge myself when so many are suffering in ways that I cannot imagine?

I am always telling everyone else that everything will be okay. Our communities come together, especially in situations as difficult as the COVID-19 crisis, and we will push through every obstacle. I tell others this while shouldering their worries, and I feel exhausted and guilty from doing so. Who am I to say that everything will be okay? Is this just easy for me to say because I have a roof over my head and food on the table, or do I actually believe that everything will be? At the same time, I am so tired of repeatedly having to be a beacon of light when I am also concerned about the state of our world and my personal worries. I spend hours every day contemplating how I can use my connections, positions, and channels to assist those who are struggling right now and acquiring resources, but I still feel upset with myself. I should be doing more.

While these thoughts are especially prevalent now, I have noticed that these have been stirring in my mind well before a virus knowingly existed, or a pandemic was on the horizon. I have had the privilege and honor of serving as the President of two student organizations this past school year, and I am constantly worried as to whether I am doing enough to support their members, our initiatives, and our advocacy. I try to balance this work while doing my best to fulfill my job requirements as a research assistant, succeed academically, and complete job applications for employment post-graduation (please hire me!!!). I try to be an emotional support for my family and friends. I maintain my exercise routine. My plate has many pancakes on it, but I still feel as though I am not doing enough. I could be sleeping less or have responded to that email within a few hours rather than a couple days. I could be calling and texting more people, and ensuring that those within my immediate surroundings are doing well on a more frequent basis.

While all of this is heavy, I still want every single person to be happy with my work. I want every single person to come to me and I want to be able to carry their weight. I always feel as though I have to focus on saving the world and I think this stems from my intense need to solve problems, whether my own or someone else’s, immediately and constantly. I need to fix things. I need to fix people. Often times, I am too proactive for my own good; I am always thinking five steps ahead of everyone else because I want to be able to catch my mistakes before they take shape. I want everyone to be included. Every task has to be perfect and whole. Due to this, I have a pain in my heart that I am unable to place. I feel a sense of emptiness, and I do not know how to fill it.

One day, I was speaking to my friend about how I was afraid that someone was going to hurt me (emotionally), and she told me that she thinks the person who is hurting me the most right now is myself. I have thought a lot about this since then, and I know that she is right. I am very harsh with myself, and I feel as though I am constantly angry at myself for simply smiling, or being happy, or scheduling time for myself rather than using those few hours to pour my soul into others.

I recognize that the only person who can gather my peace of mind, and the only person who can cut me some slack, is myself. I respect my high standards, and I respect how deeply I care about everything and everyone. I do not think that these are necessarily bad things, but I cannot allow them to consume me to an unhealthy degree. I can care about myself just as much as I care about everyone else.

I am going to take this moment to remind myself that I love and feel as much as I should. The world may not be ready to accept what I am willing to give, but this does not mean that I am a burden or that I am incorrect. I am organizing and advocating as much as I can right now (and always), and I think that many of us can be proud of ourselves for actually caring while so many do not. I know that I would tell anyone else these things, and I would affirm them because I genuinely believe in them. I would not allow them to question themselves in the way that I questioned myself in the first paragraph because they deserve to believe that their existence is a positive force.

A few snowflakes are gliding past my window now, and I think back to the long run on which I went earlier today. I took some time to sit on this dock along the Mississippi River and breathe. I can breathe. My existence is worth the space it occupies. I may not be the perfect version of myself every second of every day, but at least I am always trying to be so. While a lot of these reminders and realizations are important, I will probably still struggle to remember them during the times in which I am scolding myself. I will be patient and I will not give into the unhealthy criticism.

You do not need to get it together, Natasha, if doing so is only going to hurt you. You are doing a wonderful job.

Overwhelmed.

I feel like a heartbreaker and I feel like a girl who gets her heart broken repeatedly and I feel like I cannot catch a breath and I feel like I have too much room to breathe and I feel empty and I feel whole and I feel lost and I feel found and I feel like a failure but also a successful woman and I feel like I need to tell someone something but I feel as though I cannot find the words and I feel like I am not the best version of myself but I do not even know what that version is when I feel better than I have ever felt but maybe I just feel broken and my soul is looking for some type of monster glue. But I keep settling for tape.

The Less of You, the Better.

you love your body enough to criticize it
the piece of chocolate settled at the bottom of your stomach will not dissolve without running a few miles
or twenty
and is your stomach flat enough for your liking? did your arm look too large in that photograph?

the amount of times during which you have cried while looking at yourself in the mirror is only equated by the amount of dinners you have skipped to compensate for the tears

but you should ask yourself
will you ever be “skinny” enough? your standards rise as your body disappears
a million people will say that you are beautiful
that your body is a gift
but the validation is still not enough
because these compliments are not valid if you do not believe them yourself

so you run until you struggle to breathe and you track your calories and you scold yourself for eating a slice of pizza
and you tell your best friends that their bodies are perfect while you tell yourself to work harder

and one day, you step on a scale and you have lost more weight than you could ever imagine
you should feel happy, but you feel afraid
you feel weak
and you question whether you can ever win
but you will not because you are the only person competing in this race
and you can only succeed if you withdraw from it

Nightmares.

Your fists are clenched, tears are streaming down your cheeks, and you are yelling. You can hear yourself yelling, but you cannot help doing so. You have a pain in your chest that resembles heartbreak, and you feel helpless. Your slumber should be peaceful, but your mind torments you.

I would say that I have nightmares fairly often. I had some painful ones last night, so here I am writing about them. I close my eyes every night hoping to recharge, but I feel as though so much is taken from me emotionally when the next morning arrives. As many know, I struggle with fairly severe insomnia, so I do not even know if I can classify these encounters as nightmares because they feel so real. I am balancing within my consciousness. Due to this, I think the reality of it is the scariest part. My nightmares are mostly realistic and shed light on traumas that I have been fortunate enough to avoid thus far. This confuses me. I rarely have dreams that I enjoy, and if I do enjoy them, I find myself disappointed to an excessive degree the next day.

I guess this is pretty vulnerable of me to mention, but when I experience a troubling nightmare, and awake to tears pouring out of my eyes, I want nothing more in that moment than to have someone holding me. I want to hear that everything is okay, and I want to squeeze a hand. This being said, my nightmares are my own, and even if I find the strength to relive them and explain them to others, they do not fully understand the fear that caused my body to become rigid in the midst of them.

In some senses, I would be interested in exploring how to control my dreams fully, but given my insomnia, I feel as though I would focus so much on controlling them that I would not be able to fall asleep.

Nightmares make me uncomfortable during a time in which I desire nothing but comfort. They cause me distress and I spend hours, days, or even weeks thinking about them. I try to exhale the triggers that arise within them with each breath I take, and I will say that some of the tension escapes through the tears I shed as well, but I need a bit of time for my emotions to completely settle.

I want to tell myself that I should not be afraid of something as trivial as a nightmare, but I cannot help how I feel in these moments during which harsh and disturbing thoughts enter my mind. Sometimes, fear is okay. I wish I had more answers and more words of encouragement for myself, but I know that I can handle this. For me, sleep is a work in progress. I will continue to exhale the negativity that arises with it as much as I can.

He Should Be.

he may be so many things
that sound lovely on paper or when you tell your friends about him for the first time

but is he bear hugs and hand holds
is he a doer
does he push you rather than break you
does he empower you rather than belittle you

does he resolve rather than run

do not give into it
do not let him into you
until he is
until he does

The best advice I gave and received in 2019.

in no particular order

Choose people who choose you.

Surround yourself with those who respect and value your time.

Doing a stupid action does not make you a stupid person. You spend so much time giving others the benefit of the doubt. You deserve to give yourself the same.

One should not have to know how you have been treated in the past to treat you well.

You will never be free from judgment, so you might as well do what you enjoy.

Listen to music that feeds your soul. Do not listen to what others expect you to like if you do not actually like it.

Age does not equate to maturity.

Not everyone can be helped in the same way. Do not settle for (and compensate) the wrong therapist, app, class, routine, friends, or environment.

Be intentional in whom and what you follow on social media. You do not owe anyone a follow, like, or retweet.

Do not work for an organization, company, or person who does not share your values.

Privilege exists in being positive.

You are more than capable of not listening to problematic musicians.

Do not put anyone on a pedestal regardless of how personally you know them.

Pushing away those who desire to support you is only doing a disservice to yourself. Take your space, but be cognizant of whether you are hurting your loved ones in the process.

Do good work where you are and people will notice. Your output speaks louder than your talk.

Putting yourself out there is empowering.

Not feeling well? Cannot sleep? Cannot stay awake? Drink water. Water helps everything.

Do not search for your healing within those who broke you.

Not everyone has the best intentions, but do not change your own intentions because of this.

Pay attention to those around you. Who adds to your life? Who takes from it?

Some situations do not have explanations. Some situations just are what they are, and they only look for acceptance.

Your trauma is not any more or any less valid than someone else’s trauma. Your struggles and healing processes can coexist.

Listening to songs that provide you with painful memories will not help.

Take every opportunity to bask in sunlight.

Ignoring how greatly marginalized communities are impacted in your advocacy regarding climate change (or any issue for that matter) is dangerous.

Not everyone, including your closest friends and family members, will be able to share in your excitement or sadness. This does not make your feelings less valid.

People will take credit for your work. This does not mean that the work was not worth it, or that you do not add value to an initiative. Focus on the reasons for why you did the work instead.

You are only as successful as how well you are (physically and mentally).

Weaponizing your identity only highlights your privileges and makes others feel small.

If you need a hug, ask for a hug.

If you are reading this, you probably have the ability to recognize how much space you occupy. Be cognizant of this.

Pay attention to where leaders, celebrities, and organizations that you admire place their dollars.

You are not expected to solve every problem. You are expected to educate yourself, unlearn and learn, and practice your values to the best of your ability.

A difference exists between educating folks on issues that should not be your responsibility to explain and empowering their growth.

Dating someone should not be a project. You should not have to fix or drain yourself for your partner.

If you live in and are governed by a system that was built on oppression, ignoring this point will only harm you and those around you.

How others treat you is a reflection of how they view themselves.

When you are in leadership roles, you and your work might not feel appreciated or be recognized. You have to accomplish your tasks and goals anyway, so do your best to affirm yourself.

Your successes are rooted in your mindset.

Pay attention to how government and news sources communicate happenings. Dig deeper and question what you are told. Ask questions if you do not understand and do not blindly follow.

An upward dog can always provide some relief.

Just because folks can list random facts about past events, laws, court cases or garner tens to thousands of likes on a tweet containing political jargon does not make them any more qualified or capable than you are.

The meaning of life is to discover what life means to you.

You are allowed to feel pain months, years, and decades after something occurs or ends. You probably will.

You will always have your experiences. You will always have your story.

Putting yourself first is not selfish. Liberation arises with loving yourself.

Your life on this earth is so minuscule within the span of time. Ask yourself, often, if you are fulfilled.

Dear White People.

I wrote this for one of my classes and I thought I’d share. We were required to write a letter to someone or a group based on the readings we had in class regarding race. Edit: I would like to note that one’s learning and research should not stop with reading the piece that I have cited in this post. We were assigned White Fragility for class, which is why I used it. One should be reading works written by people of color. DiAngelo’s work, in itself, is an example of white privilege and can be condescending. She makes the occasional valid point, but again, people of color have been writing about many of these issues for decades.

Dear White People,

When I was only five years old, unexposed to the realities of the existence of race, you told me that I could not sit at your table because I am brown. 

When I was ten, insecure about my body and wishing that my skin tone was just a few shades lighter, you made fun of the hair on my arms. 

You tell me that I will never be a Senator (apparently this is okay, though, because you prefaced this statement with “no offense”). You exoticize me because you are fascinated by the way that my brown skin glows or the way that my hair flows as though this is supposed to capture my heart and have me tumble into your love.

You ask me from where I am and I say that I am from Rochester, MN in response. You then say “no, I mean, what is your nationality?” and even though I am American, I know that you are actually asking about my ethnicity, so I reply and say that I am Indian just for you to say that you know an Indian who looks how I look. Your intentions are always correct in your mind, but your impacts have me wondering whether you will ever learn. 

The system in which we currently exist is built to benefit you, so your judgement is clouded as you think that it is, in turn, benefiting everyone. As DiAngelo states in White Fragility, “…racism…occurs when a racial group’s prejudice is backed by legal authority and institutional control” (DiAngelo 21). We can all choose to live comfortably and avoid thinking deeply about this, but that in itself is a privilege. In many ways, I have been able to do the same due to my immigrant parents’ hard work in building a well-off family and lifestyle in this country. My mother and father have Doctorates in Physics and Microbiology respectively, but they have entered interview rooms in which their names and skin tones have taken precedence over their accomplishments. This being said, I want to stress the importance of disaggregating race and ethnicity as in a lot of ways, I have lived a very fortunate life. Not all people of color live on the same playing field (within a game that we did not choose to play), and disadvantaged groups exist even within this. 

While blatant racism does exist, and some folks, unfortunately, are proud to call themselves racists, anyone can make racist remarks. The comments stated previously were made to me, and to some degree, embedded so deeply into my identity that I have believed them myself at times, by those who claim to be allies and generally act justly upon their allyship. I often struggle to discuss race with my white friends, and other white progressives, because everything can be taken with defense rather than objectively. Bitterness exists within their reactions even if they do not outrightly express it, and this results in me feeling a sense of guilt for even discussing the topic in the first place. DiAngelo draws on this concept by shedding light on the claims that white folks often make to validate their comments or awareness. The parents of the girl who made the comment to me when I was five, and continued to bully me throughout my kindergarten year, claimed that they did not teach their daughter those values, or to be racist, and their apologies were validated. DiAngelo states that “a racism-free upbringing is not possible, because racism is a social system embedded in the culture and its institutions” (DiAngelo 83). Again, the ability to not acknowledge this, and view everything at face value or as an individual situation, is a privilege. Coming to terms with this is difficult, and it all certainly messes with my own mind, but ignorance is not bliss. My identity as a woman of color has been politicized and socialized, but many lives wade in consistent politicization. I choose to be brutally aware of this reality not only for myself, but also for those who face much worse. 

I am proud to be a brown woman. A lot of effort has been taken to push past the perceptions that I had of myself while growing. Since white skin is so frequently associated with power, lighter skin tones have always been pushed as “more attractive.” I wished so badly to be just a shade or two lighter. To this degree, I have so often pictured myself marrying a white man as though men of color were less attractive, or less qualified, and have often been submissive to the white men whom I have dated due to this. This is the influence of socialization at work, and my parents along with others in the Indian community took too large of risks, and worked too hard, to challenge it. Advocating for myself is still every day work, and I am so fortunate to have been given the opportunities I have had as this work could have definitely been heavier. 

If you truly are an ally, if you truly are progressive, then question the system in which we live. Do not take defense. Ask yourself why you have the perceptions you have, and then push yourself to be uncomfortable enough to unlearn. Empower people of color instead of basking in the power that is always at your fingertips. I do not expect you to be perfect in your acts and comments as I am not even close to being so myself, but people of color deserve to occupy just as much space as you do without being questioned. You did not choose to have or work hard for your whiteness. People of color did not choose their identities either, but they have to fight against the system that disadvantages them every day. DiAngelo mentions the “social taboos against talking openly about race,” (DiAngelo 100) and your participation in dismantling this is key.

In Solidarity,

Natasha Sohni 

Work Cited:

DiAngelo, Robin J. White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism. Beacon Press, 2018.

Some authors of color I recommend reading: Angela Davis, Warsan Shire, Ta-Nehisi Coates