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jm
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xx dumb white guy stumbles onto website
« Thread started on: Aug 10th, 2003, 5:31pm »

Dr. Metha,

Hi there. I think this forum is great. I am not Indian, and I do not even command the vocabulary that a lot of the kids writing in do. I am just a dumb white guy who stumbled onto your website. But I think I might still have something worthwhile to add. I find that my limited experience with the brown folks resonates with much of what has been written here.

I used to catch a ride to high school with a boy named R. Dharmarajan (his parents drove us). In college, I made it my secret mission to infiltrate the "Indian Mafia," the tight clique of highly motivated, highly intelligent, almost exclusively pre-med gang of brown people at my small liberal arts school. I roomed with a guy named P. Desai during my sophmore year. I took all the Hinduism and Buddhism and asian culture classes I could fit around my other two majors. I was fascinated by the asian mind and multiplicity (no pun intended) of cultures represented by my fellow Americans, foriegn born or 1st generation alike. But I was also intrigued at the thinly masked (in the college environment) undercurrent of a common private encumbrance that seemed to be waging war on thier collective psyche. I watched my roomate struggle with sexual identity and the tenuous balance of family relations/expectations and social/scholastic aspirations. I felt his pain, though I can't say I completely understood it.

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jm
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xx Re: dumb white guy stumbles onto website
« Reply #1 on: Aug 10th, 2003, 5:38pm »

My point is not to merely agree that it is an issue. My reason for writing is to encourage this dialogue to expand its audience beyond the scope of Indian families. I'm NOT suggesting that you need to change its specificity to Indian families. I'm saying that if you want to succeed in your plan of maintaining your strong cultural heritage, don't hide it from the rest of us! I am sure I'm not the only dumb white guy who is captivated by your culture--and it's not only because I am attracted to many of your daughters wink. I was much better equiped to understand why my roommate struggled when I finally got the invite to come home with him one weekend and meet his family. WOW. Of course, that's always tricky because then if the parents trust you (non-brown roommates beware), they try to get you to participate in the spy games for them embarassed. This is not at all a criticism of the way in which Indian folks choose to raise their kids, but more a suggestion as to how you can relate to the rest of society WHY it is important to you to be different.

I felt priviledged to be invited into the homes of some of my Indian friends. I was impressed by their commitment to family, thier dilligence to work ethic, and their tenacity toward cultural and value preservation. I greatly respect an admire these qualities and I wish they were more universally appreciated. My advice is this: encourage them how you will in the home, but don't be stingy! These are values that our WHOLE society needs to see, not just your families.

In the stereotypical Indian avoidance of the evils of mainstream American culture, Indian families have alienated themselves from it. I think there is a mentality that mainstream American culture (and I'm not talking about Jerry Springer) doesn't agree with your culture or just doesn't care. That may be true for JoeBob Redneck, but we white peeps are not all as ethnocentric as we are credited. Some of us want to know who and how you Indian folks are, and I think that would help us all respect your different cultural values better. If your voices were not so inward-turned, perhaps you could not only help us understand, but it would build trust and pride in your own children, so that your publically portrayed (if not embraced) cultural values can be acceptable norms in the greater melting pot; different, but not so separate from the rest.

It's not difficult to hypothesize, historically speaking, why this dilemma exists. The first generation was working so hard on very focused goals in a strange place with few allies. They first worked to get to a level of comfort that would allow them security for their families. That is understandable. It's rediculous to expect any ethnic group to fully and collectively recognize or expect the impact of social transplantion on the second generation until it happens, so you did what every ethnic group that has come this hemisphere has intitially done--you protect your culture by shielding your family from the surrounding ones. It's a natural response common to the history of the modern world. You get no points for originality in that dharma.

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jm
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xx Re: dumb white guy stumbles onto website
« Reply #2 on: Aug 10th, 2003, 5:38pm »

Again, this forum is great because it allows dumb white folks like me, and everybody else, to see it. I think that the desi kid's struggle is not so different from the average American family's, trying to instill values into their kids. But, not being desi (nor having a family) myself, what do I really know about it?--not a lot. So my encouragement is this: help me know more. Be proud of your culture in outward ways. Invite others to see it and respect it for its inherent value. Then perhaps the norm of Indian American culture, albeit a minority set of cultural values, will be more palatable to all kids, especially the ABCD's, as Dr. Mehta calls them.

Just a surgestion,
jm

By the way, this author also attends the A&M College of Mediatrics, and Dr. Mehta is a tough interviewer, so pay attention, his advice is no black pearl.
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xx Re: dumb white guy stumbles onto website
« Reply #3 on: Apr 5th, 2007, 08:14am »

You are no dumb white guy.

Interesting input.
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