by Janani, ’12
My migration story looks and feels like the migration story of many South Asian immigrants in the late 20th century. My parents were upper-caste Hindus, who, through a combination of a casteist education system and enough money to attend school, became skilled in computer science and math. We landed first in Ohio, where they both secured IT jobs, and began their relatively short ascent into the American middle class. We moved from our formerly colonized country to become settlers on this other occupied land. Our brown bodies and the professional income they would eventually carry were also gentrifying neighborhoods.
Unlike many Black, Latino, and Native communities, my community did not face disproportionate levels of police brutality, incarceration, etc. Indeed, until 9/11, when folks from across the South Asian diaspora were persecuted as possible Muslim terrorists, I did not consider myself a target for racist state violence. My assimilation was easy. I was becoming a White lie packaged in a brown body. The expectation in my household was also clear: that I would get good grades, attend a good school, continue my family’s class ascent, and not challenge or question the racist attitudes of this nation.
This strategy of assimilation has its roots partly in colonization: it was often safer to collaborate with the British colonial government than to challenge its White supremacy. Continue reading