The Lit Life | Ep. 04

Here is the latest episode for The Lit Life Podcast. If you enjoy listening to “against the grain” viewpoints and care about issues like racism, stereotypes, and hypocrisy in the Indo-Canadian culture — then have a listen!

Don’t forget to share your reaction in the comments section, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and like my Facebook page – Amrita Literature.

New Podcast Every Thursday!

The Lit Life | Ep. 02

On this episode of The Lit Life I discuss lazy Walmart auntiya, what it means to be called a “sh*tskin,” and what my personal goals for the next little bit are and what I hope yours will be.

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Undercover racists?

Today I saw another one of those scenarios which just really infuriate me and made me want to swoop in and give the parties involved a piece of my mind.

What happened was I witnessed an interaction between a group of South Asians and Caucasians in which the latter group was belittling and speaking authoritatively over the former.

Two Indo-Canadian men who were wearing turbans were being ticketed for something or the other by the police who were pulling people over on my street. I watched from my bedroom window as a man washing his car nearby decided to very animatedly point out the other motorcyclist to the cop and say; “There’s another one here! He’s not wearing a helmet either! That’s what you pulled them over for right?” The cop sauntered over and said “oh no it’s for something else.” The very interested observer then proceeded to say, “so what, these people are exempt from the law? Don’t they have to wear helmets too?” The cop then replied “well, there’s a bit of an unspoken exception for them because they can’t take that thing off” while motioning to the turban. The guy then responded “well can’t they just make one big enough to fit over it. But I suppose that would look hilarious.” The cop responded “yeah THAT would look ridiculous.”

This entire interaction occurred as the men on the motorcycles just sat there staring watching timidly as they were being discussed as if they couldn’t understand the conversation, and maybe they didn’t. It’s the only thing that explains how they didn’t react negatively and speak up for themselves.

Now I don’t know about all of you but I for one feel personally offended and extremely angry when I hear an exchange of this manner take part in front of me. I feel as though there is a subtle undertone of certain individuals feeling justified to speak about ethnic minorities in a less than positive or respectful manner. It is clear they do not consider themselves equal to one another and believe themselves to be superior.

What makes this situation all that much worse is that the policeman was speaking to the man as if they were both in agreement with this general attitude of having the right to speak in such a condescending manner about these men. Is it not their role to discourage this type of mentality in the community? By marginalizing and belittling them alongside my very nosy and less than classy neighbour they are only fostering the growth of this problem.

Usually, if I have the opportunity to do so I will correct these individuals and respond to such comments in a manner which let’s them know it’s unacceptable to speak about others regardless of their race as if they are beneath them. It is not okay for them to feel they have the right to pass judgement towards them. This is why it took me all the much more by surprise when I had someone who reads my blogs tell me the manner in which I outline certain issues within my community (gender inequality, domestic altercations, religious bigotry, and the list goes on) is only contributing to the marginalization of the East-Indian cultural group .

What I feel needs to be made clear in this regard is that I call it how I see it. If what surrounds me is a parade of shootings all at the hands of young Indo-Canadian men, elderly Indian men acting less than respectable, and huge differences in the treatment of males and females then these are the issues I am going to draw attention to. It’s what I feel passionate about, it’s what I feel needs to be discussed in order to work towards correction. This does not mean I am contributing to the allowance of other cultural groups to look down upon my own. I am only attempting to uncover the difference between right and wrong – no matter what race or religion involved.

So long story short – if you hear something which makes you uncomfortable, speak up. And if you are afraid of appearing to be a “traitor” to your own race, don’t be. As long as you believe in what you’re saying and you voice your own opinion at all times without worrying about the reaction from others that is all that matters. In the end what it’s all about is constant improvement and change, and that can only occur if our surrounding societal and cultural issues are pinpointed and discussed.

Wow, YOU wrote that?

It started about midway through high school, when I actually started caring about academic achievement. The entire class would be eagerly waiting to receive their test scores of our last exam. Everyone would be saying how they’re sure they failed, expressing regret over not studying more, and promising to do so for the next one. I too would sit there anxiously, but pretty confident I most certainly did not flunk the whole thing. Pretty much as soon as the teacher would slide the papers into our hands everyone would start questioning one another – “what did you get?”  I never really had much interest in sharing marks but one day one of my friends flipped over my test which I had tucked away under a binder and her eyes shot wide open – “YOU got 90%?! YOU’RE SMART?!” She shouted it as more of an accusation rather than a statement. This gathered a whole lot of attention and pretty soon I was dubbed as the surprisingly smart girl of the school.

This reaction followed me all the way to University where low and behold someone would catch a glimpse of one of the marks on my papers or exams and have pretty much that same standard reaction. I initially responded to this by brushing it off and rationalizing it as a fluke. But then something strange started to happen, I started to receive grief for getting good grades. It seemed like it actually ticked people off that I would study just as much as them, but receive A’s and A+’s. This is when I decided to change tactics and start getting defensive.  Whenever someone would raise their eyebrow and give me that snarky remark about “well, you don’t even need to study, you’re going to get a perfect mark anyway” or “why are you even stressed about the test – you know you’re going to ace it” I felt genuinely offended. I began to wonder what exactly was it about me that gave people the initial impression that I just couldn’t possibly be “one of the smart ones” and that if I somehow did sneak into this classification of people – that I didn’t really deserve to be there?

I graduated with a BA in Psychology – but still was never able to solve this mystery. Now, as I have tentatively stepped into the blogosphere – I find myself facing these same questions once again. Except now, it is not just my barely acquainted classmates questioning me; it is my friends and family who are shell-shocked by my ability to string words together in a semi-decent fashion to convey some sort of meaningful message. My blog is by no means where I want it to be readership wise and my writing is far from perfect – I am completely aware of that. However, I am fairly proud of the response I have gotten thus far. The views and comments I have been receiving  has even given me the confidence I needed to begin submitting articles to my local South Asian Newspaper. Needless to say, finally stepping out of my shell and being comfortable enough with myself to put my very personal thoughts out there in this form of expression has had a pretty fantastic outcome. The only thing that irks me – is the people in my personal social circle – cannot seem to comprehend how little ol’ me could possibly be the person behind the screen.

“I had no idea you were smart!” “What’s your education?” “So like, does someone edit it for you?” “Wow, you wrote that all by yourself?!” These are just some of the things I heard from people after I hesitantly began sharing my posts to my personal Facebook page.

Perhaps it is my miniature sized appearance or my quiet demeanor, regardless of what makes people determine these snap judgements I’ve learned to realize it really does not matter. The truth is we all do it – we all mentally categorize people into the groupings of where we think they belong based on our biased opinions of them.

For my fellow bloggers – how do you feel about sharing posts with your immediate social circle? Were you apprehensive about doing so at first? Have any of you ever experienced this feigned shock in reaction to your writing abilities?

Comment below and feel free to share if you can relate!