Monday Musings: Bringing Obama Home to Momma

Monday, October 27, 2008
It's been a busy weekend for the "Brown Girls." Last week's strip--centered around the idea that the personal "Bradley effect" is as much an issue in our cultural landscape as the political one--landed on the pages of Sepia Mutiny, sparking a debate that is currently 150+ comments strong. And those wacky "Brown Girls" have generated some of the most comments to-date amongst we Devis on this blog as well (thank you readers!)

Having written the comic, I of course love the idea that it prompted even one reader to comment, whether out of agreement, disagreement, anger or curiosity--in the ocean of media available to us, it is a rare category of material that causes any reaction these days, don't you think? (Then again, that would mean I would be impressed by "W" because its horribleness moved me to tears and made me bemoan two lost hours of my life...) That it has provoked so much conversation and that, for the most part, the level of dialogue on everything from assimilation, acculturation, and insidious racism has been amazingly impressive and enlightening--all the better. One of the many lines of commentary that struck me strongly was the thoughtful presentation for and against marrying non-Indians. In attempting to make sense of what, at first blush, seems like "racist older generation Indians," "NaraVara" on Sepia explained that "[c]ulturally I think our parents were raised under traditions that were geared towards thinking in terms of retaining a sense of community into future generations...My parents would not be comfortable with me marrying a White girl...That doesn't mean they would not accept her with open arms or love the grandchildren we have any less. But the fact is that if I marry a Desi girl they will be much more secure in the knowledge that our kids will be Indian. With half-White grandkids it's a toss-up. Call it retrograde if you want. But this is the mentality that allowed us Indians to retain our unique cultural identities over a thousand years of being ruled by foreigners..."

On this blog, "Shimarella" expressed surprise that the issue of Indian parental disapproval of dating outside the race was even still an issue: "I know Indians of my parents generation still feel this way. But seriously? Are there still younger brown desi divas who think this?"

From shock over racism to shock over people being shocked--an entire spectrum of opinion was presented with authenticity and candor.

Humor too of course. Perhaps foreseeing the hot-button nature of this penumbra of issues, "glasshouses" offered words of advice to any non-Indian interested in an Indian girl: "Run from desi girl and don't look back."

And what commentary would be complete without some vitriol. Check out "GetOffMyLawn," schooling everybody on blaming parents for everything: "Don't forget that the very values that many ABDs knock are the ones that have allowed South Asians to be the most successful minority in the West. Emphasizing family structure, respect for elders, respect for education, respect for one's body and sexuality and emotions, and above all, respect for the collective community rather than the individual are all why Asians can come from the poorest of regions during the worse of times and have their children in graduate schools within one generation...We have served you well. Show back some respect. Buying into facile discourses about race and identity and denigrating your own is an insult to those of us who came to a brand new country to give YOU a better life. This discussion about desi parents or community being racist is really disheartening...You may see us as old fashioned, racist, obsessed with color, etc. That may be true, but we are also obsessed with feeding you, clothing you, making sure that we, and not the school teachers, are parents, and we also took painful steps to make it in a country alien to us so that you can come on this blog and whine about not being able to openly date a black man. If you feel that you want to date out of your race, then have the strength of character to openly date that person."

LOVE all of this. I want to talk with "GetOffMyLawn" and ask her what she would think if her daughter brought Obama home to her. He emphasizes family structure, shows respect for elders, values education and I would guess respects his body and sexuality (Barack: I know you are reading, feel free to chime in...!) Yet I am willing to bet that an "I walked uphill both ways to school in the snow in Delhi where it doesn't even snow" guilt-trip would ensue nonetheless. Hence: The personal-Bradley effect.

The personal IS political.

Even on Sepia, where the audience is--I would hazard to guess--a bit more vigilante than the average Devi with Baby, the crux of the discussion centered around social issues and our parents. Why they think the way they do. How that affects the way we think. How we interface with them when we disagree with them. Taking this a step further and addressing you Devis--who actually are parents: What would you do if your daughter brought Obama home to momma? Would you be cool with it ("Is this even an issue?")? Want to be cool with it but not REALLY be cool with it ("I know alot of black people! They are some of my closest friends!")? Be REALLY uncool with it ("Over my dead body, and I make no apologies")? And is there a disconnect between the way you would answer this particular question, and how you view the issues of race and racism more generally?

It doesn't seem fair to pose these questions and not try to give some sketch of where I'm coming from so: By way of background, my parents called me the "United Nations dater" before I married my Punjabi husband. They were cool with it--but they essentially wanted to hold a parade when I went Brown. And I'm not alone. There are many of us out there who dated outside of our race but then ultimately married within it. Whether there was personal Bradley at work or not--definitely a part of this debate.

So what's my take-away. As much as I can read and agree with bits and pieces of so much that has been said in the back-and-forth on racial politics that the comic has provoked, I come back to the notion that it's horribly depressing that we think we have to "stick to our own" to preserve some sort of ethnic heritage; that an African American is for any reason unacceptable in our homes just because he is African American; that we can and do justify subtle racism in the name of "culture." Couching our concerns about race in the language of "cultural preservation" is, in and of itself, a personal Bradley effect. Taz, the original poster on Sepia responded to some of her critics by saying that she thinks it will become easier to bring a black man home if Obama is elected. I think she's right. As Manju said, "Obama will do for racism what Goldman Sachs did for anti-semitism on wallst, which is not to say he'll end it, but rather show us the way to overcome it." And, although Rahul is correct that "the the FDR presidency didn't create an epidemic of polio afflicted grooms," it begs to be noted that FDR (with the assistance of the press--can you imagine?) kept the extent of his handicap a secret from the public for the vast majority of his presidency.

Our buddy Barack's race is no secret. It's out there, looming large, for all of us and our personal Bradley-mechanisms to see, internalize, learn from. This can ONLY do good things for our little devis and boy-devis: The President of the United States--dark and "different"--is going to look more like our kids than those of the Smiths and the Jones. Yes it's superficial but so is discussing politicians' haircuts, Neiman Marcus shopping sprees, use of spray foundation, love of pretzels. Superficial isn't always as superficial as we think. Unpack a comic and you might find a debate.

Yes it's all very messy. Yes there are lots of considerations. But do I think we can weigh all the considerations and fix this mess, you guys? Hell YES WE CAN.
69 comments:
AV said...

I'll bite. I would prefer my kids bring home an Indian. My husband feels the same way. But I really think that I will be able to be reasonable about whoever they fall in love with. I just read through some of the comments on Sepia and I am not sure where I fall on the spectrum. I find it hard to believe I am the most progressive person in the world and yet at the same time I can't find myself agreeing with much of what was said. In a way, what really matters is what we strive to do don't you think? If we have the desire to not be racist, it puts the issue on the radar. If we acknolwedge that we might be racist it does the same. Alot of the Sepia commentary to me consists of people trying to defend a static, unchanging position on fluid, changing things. Not sure what the point is of that. Sure, we all have ideologies and philosophies but come on who amongst us really can "solve" or "decipher" the issue of racism in America?

Anonymous said...

I'm with Shimarella I am sort of amazed that this is even an issue. But I also agree with the bent out of shape mom that kids need to grow a backbone. arent we supposed to teach our children to stand up for what they believe in? I cant say I will be happy if my daughter brings home an African American and i actually dont think Obama will change that one bit. but at least i will respect her if she has the courage of her love and convictions to stand by the person she has chosen.

Kris J said...

Come on now. Do you really think the election of one person is going to change the shape of an explicit and implicit racism that has been breeding for generations and generations? Be careful, you are setting Obama up to fail. There is no way he can fix all the wrongs that people are delegating to him. I agree that Obama's imminent victory will be a symbolic one, one for the history books, one we will tell all of our children about as a defining moment. But will it ring the death knell for Indian mothers all over the world hoping for their sons and daughters to marry "nice doctors and lawyers"? Of course it won't. You want fundamental change you gotta do it yourself, you can't hitch your wagon to a politician's star.

Auntie N said...

I could NOT agree more. Obama is going to change everything. And it will be in something much larger than a symbolic way. (Clarence Thomas on the bench? Symbolic and nothing more.) I also love that SOMEBODY is talking about this idea of personal, intrinsic racism. Obviously the Bradley effect is important and influences who we vote for. But where does it come from? From the little racist ways that our identities are cobbled together. It's very easy to say "I'm not racist but..." (fill in the blank: but I would prefer if my son married an Indian; but I get concerned when I see a black man on the street). The stuff that comes after the "but" may have real, fact-based rationales behind it...but call a spade a spade, it's still racism.

Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud at the idea that marrying within your race somehow aids in the preservation of Indian identity. Seriously?? Many of the Indians I know--who ARE married to other Indians--struggle with how to impart our culture onto their kids all the time. In fact, that is a theme in this blog no? What would make it any harder if one of the spouses were a different race? I can't think of one thing. It's true: Citing "culture" as a reason to do one thing or another is really just semantics. Culture is no cloak for racism.

Burned Once said...

The problem here is the premise. It's not the "mommas" who are racist, it is the Indian girls dating the black guys in the first place. They don't want to be dating the black guys. They want to make a point and they do it by buying into the stereotype that black men are dangerous and--yes--off limits. It's circular and it's disgusting.

Minisha Bedi said...

Is there really even a question here? Can anybody honestly say they WANT to be the person who judges the future-mates of their children on the basis of race? I will be the first to admit that I have many hopes and dreams for my children, but the race of their spouses? Aren't there more important things to worry about? I loved this comic in part because I thought it showed a gap that existed between us second generational Indians and our well-meaning but often less-progressive parents. I think I was wrong.

Anonymous said...

The personal is political is right. It is impossible to have a conversation about personal preferences and beliefs without said beliefs playing themselves out on a political stage. My husband is white, I am Indian. We had some fights along the way to our marriage and it hasn't been easy. I find our entire marriage to be political but of course I wouldn't change it for the world. I sometimes do feel guilty about "watering down" my culture. I was raised very traditionally. My children now, sometimes, are unrecognizable to me in their lack of traditional values. But is that a function of who I married of who I am myself? The personal is political indeed.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't anybody talk about an Indian man dating an African American woman? Is there no stigma in that?

Arathi said...

Can you imagine trying to raise children with values such as equality and justice while at the same time insisting that our people are better than others? Who does that make any sense to? I don't understand the preservation of culture argument at all! Are we supposed to all go to some island and mate together? Shouldn't we be hoping for matches and marriages for our children that involved shared values and reciprocity of emotion? I married an Indian because he swept me off my feet. But the thing is that sometimes I wish he WASNT indian. (is there an opposite of the bradley effect? A reverse bradley effect or something?) sometimes i wish that he was any other race so that we resembled the world more, and so that nobody would think that our marriage has anything to do with the fact that we are both indian.

Anonymous said...

Anyone devi out there dating a non-Indian (like I did) heed my advice: (1) Follow your heart and be honest to your parents; (2) Explain that you aren't changing your mind; (3) Turn 30. Once (3) hits, your parents will all of a sudden be less rigid in their thoughts of the "appropriateness" of your mate...they are too scared they will never have grandkids! (worked for me!)

Anonymous said...

To respond to this honestly I would have to say that I still care what my parents think. I am married with kids and a life of my own but their opinions still matter to me. So when I try to imagine my daughters bringing home boyfriends who are black I think of how disappointed my parents would be. And I immediately get defensive on their behalf--they are not bad people. Buy I know they would be stunned. And that would matter to me. Whatever bad person that makes me--that's the person I am. I also will vote for Obama.

Chetan said...

Hey AV--I think I can. Solve the issue of racism that is. Got a pen? Hope you all can follow: Don't judge people! Close your eyes and listen to the words! Get over yourselves!!

CK Pralad said...

I am still baffled about all the commentary, here and on Sepia. As far as I can tell the comic--and Taz's post--was not about interracial dating in general, but rather the "disconnect" as this author wrote between what we as Indians think about dating, and what we profess to think about politics. How we pat ourselves on the back for being pro-social and PC while, behind closed doors and in the inner chambers of our minds and hearts, want our race to stick to each other. That is the issue here, folks. Do we do it? Why do we do it? Is it unique to us? Is it a problem or do we not care about it? Broad labels of "racist" or "progressive" are too loaded to foster any real conversation, don't you think? The real issue here is narrower and much more interesting. Great comic.

Anonymous said...

Well...I dated a bunch of guys before I, too, married my Indian husband. The thing is, I think I always kind of knew I would end up marrying an Indian. Whether that came from my parents or myself or a mixture--who knows right? The same thing will happen with my kids, I think. My parents never told me to marry an Indian. It was never that blatant. When I brought non-Indian boyfriends home they treated them well. But it's like they knew too that it was a phase. I credit my parents with alot of things (I know it's a rare Indian girl who brought boyfriends home at all--the amount of stories I have heard from close friends about sneaking around and lying just to get out of the house amuses me and amazes me) not the least of which is that they never pressured me to marry Indian. But like I said, I DID marry an Indian. And I will bet my kids do too. And I think I want it that way.

Anonymous said...

I think it's less the race itself and more the values associated with a particular group of people and one's associations with it. For example, I have a white husband but my parents, though initially hesitant, were very welcoming. Having grown up in Detroit around plenty of African Americans, I hardly think that dating a black man would have been an issue with them either. But, that said, I was always told upfront that a Muslim man was a no-no, and having been raised with that idea, I have never considered dating a Muslim. In fact, I wish I didn't feel this way, but I can honestly say I wouldn't want my kids dating Muslims. It's all about the perception of a group of people, not necessarily the race.

Tani said...

I had a bunch of stuff to say but then I got blown away by that photo of the logo'ed baby nursing--what an incredible image! The personal is political, the political is corporate, and corporate is dead. Does that mean the personal is dead too?

Serena said...

I totally agree that Obama's election is going to change the tone and tenor of racism...and I think it goes deeper than the "superficial" aspects such as the fact that he looks more like us than any President so far. It's also the fact that he looks more like other people in the WORLD. He is going to elevate the conversation and raise the stakes across the board. Who knows, maybe by the time some of our kids are old enough to vote, they will be baffled that there was a time when people DIDN'T think there could be a black president. To that end, maybe they won't even think about the fact that an Indian president would be "weird." That is some good Monday Musings for me.

Neesha Meminger said...

As a Punjabi, Indian-born mom married to an African American with bi-racial kids, this post and the one at SM have been fascinating and amazing. You are my new favorite haunt on the internet.

One of my books started as a love-letter to my daughter, so the MC was biracial -- African-American and Indian-American (duh). But, somewhere in the revisioning process, I was, erm, "gently shoved" into the belief that there was no market for this story and the book would be a financial failure. That a "real" story (i.e., candidly dealing with issues of race) would never survive in such a tough market. Since then, I've wondered which market these particular editors and agents might've been thinking about...

But, in answer to your question, it makes no difference to me who my kids bring home, as long as it is someone who treats them well, respects them, is committed to their own personal growth and progress and supports that of my kids...and makes a lot of money. KIDDING!! :D.

Thanks for your great posts.

Anonymous said...

Deepa, it would do SM readers good to borrow a bit of your tone, style and restraint (and spell-check function for that matter) over on their blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this comic, the comments, and the ensuing conversation over the past couple of days and I feel--dare I say--inspired that we, as Indians, are willing and able to engage in this banter on this level. For me (a first generation Indian professor), even this is a step in the right direction. I would like to ask you to keep asking questions and keep trying to answer them. Answers may not come in the form of epiphany but they will come in the form of process. It is you all shepherding in change. Obama can be your representative. Don't eschew the work too easily. Keep up this blog!

Anonymous said...

How amazing! The debate rages on!!

Neil Chaudhury said...

I don't know how I ended up commenting on a Mommy bog (or how I, um, just spent about twenty minutes reading some of the other posts--great picture of the hairy ape by the way). Taz obviously hit a nerve as did this chick who writes the comis. All I have to say is the next comic better address all of this and better be good.

Rahul said...

Alright guys, I think we have hit a plateau no? Clearly the subject is rife with controversy. Clearly the prospect of Obama in office fuels the fire and let's all of us live out our Ethnic Superhero Fantasies. But does anybody have anything new to say? At all? (Devis: My wife likes your blog).

Rahul said...

Rahul is correct that "the the FDR presidency didn't create an epidemic of polio afflicted grooms,"

This comment was mostly facetious as you might expect from somebody congenitally incapable of seriousness. FDR was assisted by the press, of course, as well as the absence of 24-hour or, in fact, any hour television, despite Joe Biden's protestations to the contrary.

Personally, I am not certain that the Obama presidency will suddenly make a black SO acceptable (in the average desi household), changing that will require some significant changes of attitudes deeply ingrained over tens of decades.

P.S: I am the Rahul who commented on Sepia, not the one who commented on your blog just before me.

Burnt Twice, Going on Thrice said...

Obama is not your average black dude, (or white one for that matter). He is an example for both white and black American men and let's face it, if he were single and won the presidency, what momma (desi or otherwise) wouldn't be thrilled at her daughter becoming the First Lady.

Your average black or white American male is not as exemplary and therein lies most of the issue.

I'm not desi but I'd take a well educated, nicely cultured, professional desi dude from a strong family background (no divorce, no deadbeat child support absconding dads, no step children, no "baby's daddy or baby's mama drama", hodge podge that is contemporary American family life) over your typical broken family mixed American white, black or hispanic dude any day!!!!

I accept the fact that desi parents may not be so willing to accept a white, black or hispanic woman into their family. They've got damn good reason! Our track record for one spouse for whole life is not good. Nevertheless if anyone is willing to give me a try........ here I am!

I am so done with the white, black and hispanic men in this country that it's not even funny!

Manju said...

I am so done with the white, black and hispanic men in this country that it's not even funny

I disagree...its funny.

Sanjay said...

Oh I see how it is! The powers that be at Sepia can somehow open closed comments for one Deepa? Hmmm...

Okay okay I will put away my conspiracy theories.

Obama is going to change nothing. In ten years we will all be having this same debate. It's just the way it is. Part of the reason is that Obama is going to fail. The economy? The environment? Not even the big O can fix these things. It's a conservative's wet dream.

Jyothi said...

GetOffMyLawn's comment got me thinking about things I disagree with with my parents. In the never-ending Desi navel gazing that is our existence (take this topic as an example), I wonder what everyone's experience is with disagreeing with our parents in general. Desi guilt is a topic that could fill many a book. Just the other day I was talking with my dad about gay marriage, having a decent and rational conversation. We agreed to disagree and in my heart of hearts I couldn't unleash my true rage-filled arguments because he IS my dad and he bathed me and fed me and left his country for me. Is that crazy?

achattha said...

the image of the logo'd baby freaked me out -- and couldnt get my thoughts together to respond to this thread!

A Virile Nagalingam said...

what is the success rate for black-desi marriage? If an older member of the family were to take up "GetOffMyLawn's" argument, they would have some anecdotal evidence to back it up--there was a desi-black marriage, produced two children, but ended in acrimony and plenty of blame-gaming. It's certainly not a reflection on the statistical viability of such unions but for families where it happened, and failed, it's a tough argument to make.

SJP said...

"From shock over racism to shock over the shock"--seriously?? There are people out there who think racism is over?? come on you guys, take a look around. Racism from your well-meaning parents who love you is just one grain of sand in the desert of racial injustice we all still live in. Before you go calling me a doomsday-er or anything, don't freak out, I'm a perfectly happy mom and writer who smiles often and doesn't breath fire. But I live in reality and best you do too.

Si-o said...

Nice re-cap. Not sure this particular debate will ever go away...which probably answers the main question, namely, whether we all are a little bit racist.

Burnt Twice, you know the rest.... said...

Just because I believe, or even am an activist for a merit based society in which everyone has equal oppurtunity in the public sphere, does not mean they have equal oppurtunity in my bedroom!

I don't see a dichotomy between voting for Obama and preferring to mate with someone who does not look like him. (although he is quite a looker, but you know what I'm saying....)

If there was a qualified woman candidate I would vote for her too, doesn't mean all of a sudden im gonna start dating women.

CoconutRice said...

Although Obama being elected might help racism, it's not going to change many of our parents. My mother has a SERIOUS crush on Denzel--he's good looking, rich, and intelligent. But she flat out said if you came home with him it would be a problem. When asked why, she simply said "Your children will be labeled black."

Naturally, an argument followed. But I suppose her thinking was that why would you want your kids to have a harder time in life? But I don't think they would. If you think your kids are somehow negatively different than other people will treat them that way.

I am dating a mutt. He looks white (or Lebanese to some people), but in fact he is part 1/4 black and 1/8 Indian. Of all the Indian couples I know--we are the "most" Indian. They all named their kids American names. They never eat Indian food--heck they're amazed that I know how to make roti. My "white" boyfriend and I cook Indian food all the time (in fact he cooks it better than most Indians I know). We've agreed to name our children some Indian name. He has a kurta. If you find the right person, preserving your heritage is not a problem. Everyone should follow my dad's standard: "As long as they're not ugly because I don't want ugly grandchildren"

Tho, the best part is, even though everyone in my family loves him, my mom still cringes at the thought of black people at our wedding...

Twice Burnt, ready to give up.... said...

"He has a kurta. If you find the right person, preserving your heritage is not a problem."

That was funny. He even has a kurta too, eh? Done deal!

Ha. Ha.

This is an issue because traditionally desi marriage was not a product of love, love was a by-product that might bloom some time AFTER you married the right person (right means same region, caste, linguistic group, religion, etc), but love was not the cause of marriage.

Interracial dating flies in the face of that coz it symbolizes "love" and "self" over everything else.

One could argue what is the meaning of love, and with all the divorce in today's world it would be a good argument, but you get what I'm saying.....

Burnt Twice, still nice.... said...

"Personally, I am not certain that the Obama presidency will suddenly make a black SO acceptable (in the average desi household), changing that will require some significant changes of attitudes deeply ingrained over tens of decades."

To be honest it would require some significant changes of attitudes deeply ingrained over tens of decades in BLACK American people as well.

Hopefully having a half black president will inspire them to raise their bar of personal achievement a little higher.

Let's be real here folks, true racists are not concerned about "appearing un-PC". They are racist and open about it. This cartoon is not an example of racism.

Melanie said...

No kidding Burnt Twice, that's the whole point! Obviously the cartoon isn't about the crazy KKK brand of racism. It's about a subtler, stealthier kind. The kind that allows us to be Democrats and liberals and wear Obama clothes, but then hope against hope that our kids will stick to our own race. That's the cool part of this whole comic and the whole debate. If we were talking about run of the mill redneck racists, what would be the point, we're not going to open their eyes. With this, all of us are forced to examine our beliefs, and the people we want to be, in a new way, right?

Anonymous said...

Hahahahaha, Melanie, love that you spun a way to say "No shit Sherlock" much nicer! Subtlety my friend Burnt Twice...name of the game.

Burnt Twice, still smokin' said...

I'd like to pose a question and see if anyone answers;

Have African American people as a collective whole actually done anything to merit cringes from desi parents?

They say when there is smoke there is fire.... is this a case of fire without smoke? Are desi parents in no way justified for their apprehensions, or could it be that they are just a little bit justified somewhere along the line?

Anonymous said...

It's a good question. I would be ashamed to admit this in real, non-blog life, but my parents absoluetly have a hierarchy about who I end up with and African American is on the bottom of the ladder. We have talked about this and, although they are often reasonable people, they haven't been able to offer me a real reason why African Americans are "worse" than whites or whatever. Obviously it is easy to say that the media depiction of blacks in this country is below the board at times--and maybe that is why many Indian parents fear the black race--but even that is too "black and white" (heh heh) because it casts our parents as absolute simpletons, unable to separate reality from the newest gangster hip hop movie at the theater right?

Sejal Gandhi said...

Um, you guys are joking right? Of course Indian parents have reason to be apprehensive about African Americans. For whatever reason, African Americans lag behind their peers in almost every level of measurable achievement. Now, there may be racist reasons for this, but it is the case, isn't it? The election of Obama will hopefully change this in the sense that it will provide a role model and take away the excuse that "blacks can't get ahead in this country." And before you all go hanging me out to dry and labeling me I am NOT saying that it is RIGHT that Indian parents fear African Americans, and I am NOT saying it is right that Uncle and Auntie Patel judge the black guy their daughter brings home on the basis of statistics, versus on the basis of him himself. But I DO think there is valid reason for concern.

Anonymous said...

Don't any of you wonder if our parents don't like African Americans because of the odd Indian proclivity to be "fair" and light-skinned? Think about it.

Angry Devi Momma said...

I have been watching this debate range for a few days now and though I thought I would be content to stay the interloper, I need to say something at this point. COME ON EVERYONE. Let's talk about the ORIGINAL POST. Are we going to let this devolve into whether we as a race covet light skin? I can save you some time on that: We do. All Asians do. It's odd but it's true. All you need to do to find proof of that is look at the make up sold in Asia: It is almost universally touted as "whitening." The REAL issue here is WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT. Are we going to just blather on and on about our parents and how messed up they are? Or are we going to take some RESPONSIBILITY to change this?

deepa said...

Hey guys. Wow, there really is a whole world of things to be said on this topic. If you want to read what some people in the African American community are saying about the comic and all of this reaction, check this out:

http://postbourgie.com/2008/10/28/it-will-become-easier-to-bring-a-black-man-home-if-obama-is-elected/#comments

Jasmine said...

Deepa, thanks, I actually saw this this morning and was going to post. I'm curious: You wrote the comic right? Did you expect this sort of reaction? And did you have a particular "point" you were trying to make? (Love the blog by the way--found it on Sepia but am now a fan in my own right).

ak said...

Deepa - I stumbled on this post via the link on Sepia and just wanted to clarify - it was not I, "AK", who would advise the friend to run - I was quoting the commenter who wrote that, and called that statement out as unfair.

Re preservation of the heritage - I think there are a billion people back home doing a (relatively) good job of that. As for our own kids, that's somewhat the price our parents pay for deciding to raise their kids here. Also, given how many american-born desis there are who are not into desi culture, i doubt that their own kids will imbibe the culture via osmosis. honestly, i'd rather be with someone who shares my value of the concept of culture and exposing children to it, than with someone who has given it relatively less import in their own lives. the bottom line is that your kids will know the culture if you want them to (and actively teach them it), not just by default of having brown skin. in this vein, i think the argument of marrying brown applies more to parents and their comfort level with the partner, rather than to the future generation.

Finally, as to Obama - it's interesting because he has made many comments about his perception of himself as a black man - it seems as if he equally chose it and was forced to choose it. Obama could have never met his father, have been raised purely by his white relatives, and married a white wife - and he still would be called a black man. It is the nature of race relations in this country - and to be on-topic, that's exactly how my parents would see it. As much as I feel he might be taking advantage of his black identity for political leverage, he still stands for the idea that you can not have white skin and get this far in the bid for the office. I'm not voting for him, but I think if he wins, it really will heed a change in this country, even on a small scale, as to race relations.

deepa said...

Jasmine--I would be lying if I said I had any idea the comic would provoke this depth and volume of conversation. Love it. As for any "point" I was trying to make--I think the comic speaks for itself and I am glad it provided a platform to foster discussion. Hope you check back for more of the Brown Girls on Thursday.

AK--sorry about the misquote, I just corrected it. And I couldn't agree more about the election of Obama having the potential to herald in change, both small and large.

Anonymous said...

Nice try to sum it all up Deepa but obviously all of these issues can't be tied up with a neat little bow. In the same way, they can't be resolved by one man, right?

Trina said...

As one of the more vigilante commenters on this topic (Like that and I wear that badge proudly) I will go out on a limb and say this: You can prefer to date within your own race and not be racist. That's the bottom line. I don't even think there is a "personal Bradley effect" at play with such a decision. It may just be a choice.

Ragini said...

Definitely cool to see the whole thing from the African American perspective. Also saw it come up on this blog for those of you (like me) who still aren't sated: http://djblackadam.typepad.com/damnitq/2008/10/some-white-voters-fear-i-feel-a-lot-of-black-people-are-going-to-feel-its-payback-time.html

Uma said...

Alright, admittedly arriving to this party at last-call, via catching up on Sepia reading...but had to just say that it's pretty amazing that there is still so much to say. Just these comments illustrate how hairy and ripe and pulsing everything related to race is. And with the election so close, perhaps all of it is coming to bubble. Not sure if anybody heard the NPR piece this morning about different races and Obama but it sure would have been awesome for them to use some of this. That's all. Oh yea, also "bringing Obama home to Momma"--that's AWESOME, who said that?

Anonymous said...

Here's what I'm going to ask: AK why the hell aren't you going to vote for Obama???

Rupa said...

In thinking about this over the weekend, it struck me: The role of caste is completely missing here. Racism in many ways is a re-constitution of caste systems that are still familiar to us, and even more so to our parents, no doubt.

ak said...

anonymous - a lady never tells...

but seriously, i have several misgivings about the guy. most notably, his lack of experience. but i am also not voting for mccain - this year i am exercising my right NOT to vote...

Burn, burning, burnt said...

Let's face it, Obama's not white, Obama's not black. He doesn't have any-out-of-wedlock-kids-baby's-mama-drama-on-the-run-from-Child-Support-Enforcement.

Obama is desi.

th said...

hahahahaha. Tall dark desi dude as the next president of the united states! That will be the day! Though: maybe that won't seem so preposterous if the big O wins? Obama is so not desi. If he were he never would have been "allowed" to marry michelle! Hahahaha.

Rudy said...

Not to re-open a closed can of words but check this story about unconscious racism out from the NYTIMES. Key quote: "All told, considerable evidence suggests that while the vast majority of Americans truly believe in equality and aspire to equal opportunity for all, our minds aren’t as egalitarian as we think they are"

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/30/opinion/30kristof.html?ref=opinion

Coconut Rice said...

Man, "Twice Burnt" is a serious hater. You can date Indians if you want. But dating someone else won't ruin your "culture." Just cuz you dated some jerks doesn't mean you can swear off 3 whole races. If you wanna bring stereotypes that's fine, everyone has them and they're very often true. But I know very few traditional Indian non-love matches that worked out in the end. They might still be married--but does sleeping in separate rooms really qulify as a success?

Shimo said...

Deepa wow. . . Very interesting piece here. Am I allowed to say your name? Ok I’m not sure if any other "African Americans" (black is fine to me) posted on this blog but I happen to be one, and a good friend of one of the "Devis" (is that better Deepa?)

I just want to say that every race of people most likely want to see their kid marry someone who looks like themselves. However, the issue that seems more prevalent here is that many Indian's view these other people as "not good enough, inferior, etc." This is not all of course, but you can obviously tell by how some try to defend their parents. I have heard these exact same defenses “my grandparents are just old fashioned and even though my parents are ok with us dating they are scared my grandparents will freak out.” This is obviously coming from the mouth of a southern white girl (I’m from NC). I myself a very educated man with a degree from Columbia and an MBA faced racism with every girl I ever dated outside of my race. Being a three sport star athlete, with perfect grades, test scores, making lots of money (did I mention good looking? Its ok Deepa you can tell them I’m really not that conceited) was never enough. . . So you must ask yourself is it really not "racism" and something else?

I am not as certain as all of you that Mr. Obama will win. I mean of course I want Barack to win; however, I must remain skeptical of America in general. I never thought I would live to see a black president, and am still not 100% sure. But racism as a whole will always exist until everyone just sleeps together we just have a race of mutts.

And Twice Burned you really need to find love. You sound so sad and pathetic. Did a "black" guy who you despise so much burn you? Must have. I mean you just told me “Hopefully having a half black president will inspire them to raise their bar of personal achievement a little higher.” Wooo good thing me and da rest of the homies were considering just smoking these blunts and getting hoes pregnant. The good thing is at least you realize you are racist and not scared to admit it. . . But I am sorry you are so angry inside. . . .Try Yoga!

Hunka hunka BURNIN' love!!! said...

Burnt Twice here folks...

Guys and gals, I was JOKING with the Obama is desi comment, ok?

Shimo, I will be the first to admit that desis in general, especially the older generation, are perceived as arrogant, holier than thou, and with a severe superiority complex.

I personally feel that people from the same cultures and religions have a better chance of making it in a marriage than people who are from very different cultures and religions. Especially if the people involved are heavily INTO their cultures and religions.

You're a handsome black man into yoga??? Close enough for me!

Are you single?

Yeah, I've been burnt, but I'm not completed jaded - yet.

I can't guarantee that my family will accept you, but hey, I'm not a child anymore and I'm one of those rare mutant offspring who doesn't really give a damn if they accept my choice or not.

Going to check out your blog now....

Anonymous said...

Krishnakirti wrote a post about y'all over at

http://www.siddhanta.com/index.php?q=node/97

Vrajabhumi said...
sibelimsss said...

thanks you..
izmir evden eve

sibelimsss said...
izmir evden eve nakliyat said...
gazeteler said...

Yes it's all very messy. Yes there are lots of considerations. But do I think we can weigh all the considerations and fix this mess, you guys? Hell YES WE CAN.

hakan canaydın said...

sonally feel that people from the same cultures and religions have a better chance of making it in a marriage than people who are from very different cultures and religions. Especially if the people involved are heavily INTO their cultures and religions.

You're a handsome black man into yoga??? Close enough for me!
eşya depolama
evden eve nakliyat
sehirlerarasi nakliyat
sehirlerarasi evden eve nakliyat
evden eve nakliyat

Bayram Çaçanoğlu said...

İzmir evden eve nakliyat

Bayram Çaçanoğlu said...
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