Being an Immigrant in 2020

*Originally posted on Her Campus George Mason*

Statue Of Liberty, Landmark, Liberty, Statue, America
Via Pixabay

When I came to the United States in 2004, my family back home was envious of 4-year-old me. I was going to be raised in the most luxurious land that they could only dream about. I was going to be rich, educated, and maybe a little too “modern.” I understand where they were coming from. I understand that because I was one of the few that got the opportunity of a lifetime, I would be “privileged.” Am I, though? 

America has given me the freedom to be independent. I’m the first girl in my family to live alone during college, and am majoring in something that I am actually interested in. I value that I can go to college, have an iPhone, or even just my own room. I wear what I want to, and can go wherever I want.

However, this freedom has given me a new perspective that they do not agree with. Whether it is social issues or political debates, there’s always a difference of opinion. Many immigrants have to hear that they are now “too progressive.” They believe they have gone so far ahead of their roots that they are no longer one of them. They become like the characters they see in a movie that “has lost the plot.” It’s unfortunate that they are so quick to stereotype the land they are in awe of. 

While I may not feel Indian sometimes due to these mindsets, I don’t feel American either. 

Passport, United States, Documentation, Travel
Via Pixabay

The political climate in the past few years has made immigrants feel like outsiders. I may have grown up here and am now a citizen, but the new administration has made it clear that I am not an American, I am an immigrant. That word holds a lot of weight, and it’s upsetting that no matter how long people live in this country, they aren’t considered one of them. 

The discrimination against my people is still very much alive. People still think that all Indians are nerds, reek of curry, and are socially awkward. That’s not true. I would like to believe I am an exception to these stereotypes, as well as many other Indians living in the States.

There’s much more to us, and as much as America tries to pride itself on its diversity, it fails in some aspect or other. For example, while trying to include Indian representation on TV, a lot of it consists of caricatures and stereotypes. Another example is using the Indian accent for humor purposes. Indians work so hard to be able to assimilate into American society and for other Americans to make light of their efforts is quite distasteful. 

My family in India thinks I am now American. Americans think I am Indian. Where do I belong? I don’t know. My family thinks I am no longer Indian because of my new experiences and perspectives. America never thought I was one of them from the beginning. 

So, while everyone thinks I have the best of both worlds, do I really? 

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1 Comment

  1. Imani
    December 15, 2020 / 11:37 am

    I really enjoyed reading your perspective. I know these feelings were ESPECIALLY heightened during the most recent presidency.
    The quote where you mentioned feeling like a character who had “lost their plot”, especially stood out to me. While I am not an immigrant, there have been instances where my family has considered my beliefs to be “too progressive”. I can only imagine that these criticisms are more harsh for immigrants because their families from their homeland may have completely different cultural beliefs than the ones that exist in the U.S.

    I can definitely agree that portrayals of Indian characters on screen are extremely limited. It is unfortunate that people who don’t get to interact with Indian people in real life, might rely on those depictions from the media.

    There is an author “Patricia Hill Collins” who touches on this subject in regard to the limited portrayals of black women. I’m sure you could find many similarities to this within your own experience with stereotypes! Check her out 🙂

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