Originally published at Brown Girl Magazine
I guess it was inevitable. Now that brown girls are reaching adulthood, free from our strict upbringing, some negative attention was bound to strike our model minority image. But the last few weeks have brought some unfortunate scandals.
If you’re even a casual Internet user, you have probably come across the cell phone video of a young Indian woman berating a Metro North train conductor, using winning phrases like, “Do you know how well educated I am? Do you know what schools I went to?” Apparently the woman was speaking loudly and allegedly profanely on a cell phone conversation so the conductor asked her to keep her voice down. This simple request was met by yelling in an over-enunciated accent about her superior education and a demand for her money back before exiting the train in a huff.
Unfortunately in this public age, the young woman’s name and Internet history was quickly revealed. As an NYU graduate, her “well-educated” claims were swiftly mocked by Internet commenters. Even more unfortunately, many commenters felt free to insult the young woman’s ethnic background (the words “curry eater” were used as well as putting down her parents owning gas stations). Though the woman’s actions were deplorable, it was remarkable to see how quickly the conversation moved to insults based on the woman’s race. A sad reminder that as much as we try to assimilate, South Asians are still very much the “other” in American society.
The next story broke a few days ago. A young Indian woman working in Los Angeles met director Quentin Tarantino at a Hollywood party, went back to his place, and indulged his well-known foot fetish before returning home and emailing fifteen of her closest friends about the experience.
The email was leaked to major websites (whether the leak was intentional or not is being debated) and the woman’s picture, work history, Tumblr, even an old Wheel of Fortune appearance were quickly found.
Like the Metro North train experience, Quentin Tarantino’s date was put down for her writing style and confidence. Shades of racism colored both events: the train conductor who was spoken to harshly was black and Miss Hollywood mentioned “hordes” of Asian girls in Las Vegas and bragged about her former black boyfriend in her email.
These stories are different, of course. Perhaps the train passenger was simply having a bad day (though her reaction was unspeakably rude) while the Hollywood email writer was almost certainly seeking attention.
Sepia Mutiny breaks down the race issue better than I can do here, but I think the main take-away from both incidents is that although brown girls on the cusp of adulthood may be assimilated and successful, we are still seen as South Asian first and as representatives for our culture. This may be unfair, but until we actually live in a post-racial society, we should remember our actions do not occur in a bubble but affect the perception of our entire race.
*I’ve chosen not to use the real names of either girl, because I truly feel sorry for their loss of privacy.
Image above via
Picasso Blue Nude on right via