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Is Desi A Racist Word?
Thank for that post, this quote here sums it up quite well for me:

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->From the Hindu POV, since we don't get the whole 'black and white' dialogue and have learnt that an exterior match is no assurance (that is, we know that people who look Indian can be hyper anti-Hindus), Hindus don't really know who has ascended to presidency in America - what Obama's identity is. Because Hindus don't see it in the way Colin Powell sees this event. Some Hindus - those who still think that anyone who looks Indian and has a Hindu name 'must be' Hindu, even though they might actually be crypto instead - may see Obama as a person that marks the end of colonialism in the Americas. But they are naive, ignorant. American reality is very complex - very pedestrian and petty, but a muddle of predictable complexity (predictable if you know the values of the unknown variables).<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I gave up on Hinduism at around 12 years of age when I asked my mum how Ganapati got his elephants head, and as a bright science student couldnt help but ridicule the whole story of 'Human head chopped off, elephants head stuck on', and I have heard one of my uncles, actually my mums younger brother, also say the exact same thing as me. At least my mum, who is a highly devout Hindu, who tried to teach me hinduism got it completely wrong, and and I couldnt ever believe or understand her stories of the religion as real. I never refer to myself as Hindu or Desi, only as an Indian, and the term Indian, or British-Indian are the only ones that I find acceptable, not 'Brown' or 'Desi'. Skin colour is really only used to describe a person if identifying them to someone else who doesnt understand who you are talking about, but usually then it is still correct to refer to the person by nationality, rather then skin colour or appearance. Basically, we are taught not to identify people by their outer appearance, and not to use words that are racial or based on skin colour. However, from some Hindu's / Indian's point of view, using the words 'desi', 'gora' and 'kallah' isnt offensive because they do not consider this black and white dialogue when using these words, and just identify people by their race as soon as they see them.

Obviously, growing up in the UK or America with a western education teaching that 'racial words are wrong' is different to the way my parents and older generations of Indians that live here are raised and use words to describe people. Although it is unbelievable how many people in my generation, and even younger ones here still get it wrong, at least when I went to university and was among educated people, race or skin colour was never an obstacle or limitation in anyway to any of my daily activities. But outside of the academic field, and also employment where everyone has to abide to equity in employment laws or they risk losing their job, plenty of everyday people of any race, whether they are Indian, British, or Pakistani still go around using racial terms to describe other people (It is not just Hindus and Indian people like my parents do, it is just that I obviosly notice it from my family more then anywhere else because I am with them everyday), and unfortunately, some people are also prejudiced and deregrotory towards people of different races and skin colour.

I like the section that I read on Obama, that Americans refer to him as the USA's first Black president. When I look at Obama, I obviously notice his skin colour, but I do not think 'Americas (first) Black President', I dont see him as any different to, lets say, Bush, unless he proves to be a better leader then he was, although he has my optimism because Bush has completely wrecked both the country and its image, I still cant be certain yet if Obama will make a good president untill I see and judge his actions. To me he is just 'Americas President', and he won because his competition, the Republican party, was terrible and hardly anyone liked them and wanted a change in government.

I wont be able to help feeling offended at being called desi, but at the same time I do not say anything like that back to person, but express a desire to be uncomfortable speaking to them. Although it is definately more offensive a few times when my mum has actually said to me 'What do you think you are, a Gora?', which always leads to an unavoidable argument, I am at least fortunate to not have to deal with such terms when I am at work or with friends. Although some people do still go around using racial words in public, these are normally people that I do not want as friends, just like anyone that calls me a desi is going to have a hard time getting me to like them or enjoy being in their company.

One thing I also dislike is when an Indian person walks up to me, and hands me a leaflet for a Hindu festival celebration, or Indian club of some kind, or when I am at work (I only work in a supermarket still), and an Indian customer walks up to me and says 'Are you Indian?'. The reason I do not like this is because I am being looked at and judged by someone else, and oddly enough, I only encounter this from some Indian people. Similarly I was asked once at work by another Indian employee 'Do you speak in Gujerati?', which I do but I am terrible at it, so I reply 'No, I only speak English, is that a problem?'. If I am at work, or in public, I find it disrespectful to people around me who only speak in English if I begin having conversations in Gujerati. This to me is just a way of saying 'I want to isolate myself among only people who speak in Gujerati'. At least when I talk to others, I never need to look at them by their race, or ask them what their race is, I learnt this lesson from a friend who was half caste Philipino and Irish, but she looked 100% Japanese, and she was highly offended by people who asked her if she was Japanese. I do not believe that you can integrate into a multi cultural society if you walk around identifying and judging people by their race or appearance, and this has definately been shown to me by the vast differences between me and my family.

That is my rant over on how I feel about being called a Desi, or judged in anyway because of the way I look.

Messages In This Thread
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Guest - 12-12-2008, 03:44 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by dhu - 12-12-2008, 04:41 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Guest - 12-12-2008, 06:07 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Husky - 12-12-2008, 06:48 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Shambhu - 12-12-2008, 07:11 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Bodhi - 12-12-2008, 08:16 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Guest - 12-12-2008, 10:31 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by dhu - 12-13-2008, 03:05 AM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by shamu - 12-13-2008, 12:22 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Husky - 12-13-2008, 06:34 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Bharatvarsh - 12-13-2008, 06:58 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Guest - 12-13-2008, 09:08 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by G.Subramaniam - 12-14-2008, 07:36 AM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Husky - 12-14-2008, 09:40 AM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Guest - 12-30-2008, 09:28 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Guest - 12-30-2008, 10:11 PM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Guest - 01-01-2009, 08:55 AM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Husky - 01-11-2009, 09:58 AM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by dhu - 01-11-2009, 10:22 AM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Husky - 01-11-2009, 11:40 AM
Is Desi A Racist Word? - by Guest - 01-11-2009, 09:07 PM

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