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Countering Stereotypes: India

By Rutul Patel
Published: September 2010

Thank you come again.
The same picture comes to everyone’s mind as they read that phrase; Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from the Simpsons wokring at the cash register at the Kwik-E-Mart  selling gum for five dollars a pack.
And why shouldn’t you have that image in your head? Next to Mahatma Ghandi, Apu is the most famous Indian we have. If anything, that chubby, chocolate colored man is a national treasure.
That is the perspective I have as a kid raised in both Canada and America.
I laugh at all of the Indian jokes, like when a friend says, “Dude, is your turban in the washer? or “Yeah bro, I called for a cab and your uncle picked me up.
I find those jokes hilarious. It’s some harmless humor.
I even make jokes on myself like “The math skills come with the brown skin.
But on some days for some odd reason I hear the jokes as an Indian boy who is proud of his heritage.
Most times I don’t get offended at the jokes because I know that I’m guilty of making crude jokes to other races too.
And maybe Justin Timberlake was right when he said “What goes around comes all the way back around.
But I do get a bit peeved when people start taking things a step too far.
Believe me, on some Halloween I plan to dress up like Apu or Kumar from Harold and Kumar go to
White Castle. But when there are untouchable jokes circulating it can get under my skin.
Or assuming that the Indian population lives in slums. As clever as that is, it’s a bit disrespectful too.
Its not just the jokes either. There are many hidden messages, like when you pick the Indian or Asian kid to be your partner for a lab. Sometimes you don’t even want to work with the kid, you wonly want an easy A.
I’m guilty of that too. I pick the smart kid as my partner because it just means less work for me.
There are also many common misconceptions.
For example, just because someone is Indian defintiely  does not make them a terrorist.
I know, I know there are a lot of similarities. The thick accent and beard, the really creepy stare, but take my word for it, the chances of you meeting a terrorist in Newton are the same as me waking up as Michael Jackson tomorrow morning. Ahh, too soon?
But don’t get me wrong. This isn’t me being up tight or saying that all of the jokes circulating should be stopped, because being overly politically correct will turn society into a bland and boring disaster.
This is just one Indian kid’s perspective on  what he notices.
By the way, the names pronounced Rr-Tool.

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