I am Indian, but my skin color tends to confuse people. I mostly get Saudi or Arab, but occasionally people think I am half black. I live in the United States, but even people in India think I’m from the Middle East. This has made for some interesting experiences as hatred and feelings expressed towards me are completely unrelated to my actual ethnicity.
In high school several kids sitting at my lunch table thought it would be funny to make terrorist jokes aimed at me. At first it didn’t bother me because I am the furthest thing from a terrorist and not even muslim, but over time it got to be annoying.
I had several instances where airport security ran additional tests on me. On a flight to New Orleans a security guard checked my hands to make sure no suspicious items had been sewn underneath my skin. After I had walked through the guard was joking to his friend that, “racial profiling is a real thing”. At an Indian airport in Hyderabad, a lower level security officer took 15 minutes looking over my passport before his boss came over, laughed at him, and cleared me.
One time at a party in India someone asked me if my mom was Indian. She’s even more light skinned than I am, and the person I was talking to had a hard time believing me. So he walked over to my mom and talked to her in Bengali, just to make sure.
All of these people had preconceived notions of what an Indian looks like. My dad is darker than me so he becomes the stereotypical Indian. My mother is lighter so people on the street always speak in Spanish to her. I’m in the middle, so, you know. I would just like to make the point that this type of stereotyping is pretty unhealthy. Sure there aren’t many people who face this issue, but being in that minority made me super aware of the types of prejudices people hold. A person can live their entire life being perceived as a certain race while being the furthest thing from it. Sometimes I think if anything serious were to happen to me out of discrimination, my offender wouldn’t even know my story. I would never be given a chance to tell it. As the world becomes more globalized I realize we are all just people at the end of the day, and shouldn’t we be treated equally until given a reason not to be?
It gets a little out of hand when people from the town where you were born don’t think you belong.