PeopleAssumeMyDaughterIsAdopted

People assume my daughter is adopted.

Rebecca Schwarzlose, Roayl Oak, MI. I am white and my husband is Indian. My daughter has my husband’s complexion. When we are together as a family people assume that she’s mixed but when I’m out with my daughter alone (which is most of the time) everyone assumes that she’s adopted. People ask me where she’s […]

To belong everywhere and nowhere simultaneously

Amanda Baran, Arlington, VA. “No, I’m not Mexican. Nope, not Latino. I’m an American who’s half Syrian and half Indian. Well actually, my father’s former nationality was Syrian. His parents were refugees from Turkey who were expelled during the Armenian genocide. No, they weren’t Armenian, they were Christians who were forced out and into Syria […]

My name tells a great story.

Lise (rhymes with ‘please’), Austin, TX. My 6-word essay was originally “What kind of name is that?”– a question (both the polite and impolite versions) I’m regularly asked. My answer is something like this: “Well, my last name is Indian (yes, like from India)–sort of. My father’s family is from India, but the name changed […]

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You’re Indian; do you speak Hindu?

Poonam Dreyfus-Pai, Berkeley, CA. It wasn’t easy to choose just one sentence (6 words, no less) to summarize the constant negotiation between frustration and a sort of mirthless humor that I experience when dealing with questions about my race and ethnicity. On the most basic level, “Hindu” is a religious identity — not a race, […]

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Will you have an arranged marriage?

Krishna Ghodiwala, Washington, DC. I am an Indian American woman who was born in Canada, immigrated to the US at the age of 3, and went on to receive an excellent education that has helped me pursue a successful career in US politics and issue advocacy. My Indian heritage is a big part of my […]

Bi-racial means you are nobody’s baby.

Silvija Singh, Pittsburgh, PA. Unlike my sibs, I do not look white, altho I have a white mother. I do not get treated like a Latvian, the way the blond-haired blue-eyed cousins on this side of the family do. Complexion-wise, I look more like my father, who was from India. But among Indians, I am […]

Father’s anger cries trail of tears

David Duncan San Antonio, TX Our father would never disclose the full specific reasons for his anger regarding the Trail of Tears and the treatment of the Cherokee people. He talked of land granted his father being stolen by an overseer appointed because ‘Indians’ could not be trusted to manage their own property. His father […]

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Not Really Indian, American Born Desi.

Rahul Iyer Mesa, AZ Not Really Indian, American Born Desi is what could be used to describe me. Not Really Indian (NRI) is a term that is often coined to describe people of Asian Indian background who were born outside of India. The actual legal term used by the Indian Government is Nonresident Indian (NRI). […]

I can be both, or neither.

Donovan Holder, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. In South Florida, I am a chameleon. Mother is white, Dad is Jamaican. But my skin is the exact same color as my Latino friends, my Indian friends, my light skinned Black friends, and my Muslim friends. I am all of them, yet none of them. This is why my […]

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My Ancestors Bones Not For Museum

Sonya Williams, Baltimore, MD. I grew up in a unique area of North Carolina in what is referred to as a ti-racial community. My Indian family are the Cheroenhaka Nottoway and Meherrin Indians of Southeast, VA & North Eastern, NC. When I went to college, during a lecture in my anthropology class, the professor was […]

Braiding red bones and white blood.

Bari Goodblood Lehn Wetzel County, WV Born to a Santee Sioux mother and a German father in the Midwest. They met and married when she was relocated to the city as part of termination policy for reservation Indians in the 1950’s. Four babies later, for reasons I never knew, she left us, taking with her […]

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Are both your parents from Cuba?

Barbara Rodriguez, Florence, SC. Yes, they both are Cuban. The look of shock never ceases to amaze me. Is it because I’m blonde and have green eyes…yes! Is it because of where I live…yes! Growing up in New York, everyone I knew could tell me about their heritage. My neighborhood was a perfect melting pot […]

Why is your English so good?

Basundhara Mukherjee South Burlington, VT I was born in India, lived in Saudi Arabia, and grew up mostly in a small town in Vermont. English is in my blood, just like Bengali. When someone asks me why my English is so good, it reminds me of the ignorance that still, unfortunately, exists in this country. […]

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All-American Girl: Minority at Work

Stefanie Bernosky, Houston, TX. I was raised as an All-American girl to an All-American family in an All-American town. I even looked “All-American”, proudly featuring my braces and American Flag sweater in this dated family photo (circa 1994). We can trace my family (both sides) to the United States prior to the United States Revolution. […]

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Enough to make you look pretty

Adrienne Zimiga, Minneapolis, MN. I was born and raised on the Pine Ridge reservation my first 12 years. Upon moving from Batesland, SD to Castlewood, SD my caucasian grandmother was concerned that my brothers, sister, and I could face social problems being part Native American (iyeska: mixed blood/race) in an all white community. She told […]

You mean to say Native American

Swapnil Deopurkar Seattle, WA I moved from India to Ann Arbor, Michigan; age 26, male, long hair, parted down the middle and with a pony tail. My first day at the bus stop, started a conversation with an African American undergrad. The conversation abruptly halted with me saying “I am Indian..” and he interrupting “..you […]

Where in this world is Trindia?

Anisha Nandi Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan “I’m half Trinidadian, half Indian; I was born in England but I grew up in New York.” They can wrap their heads around England and New York. They register half-Indian due to the caramel skin tone and dark hair. Yet, I can almost always […]

Really? Are both your parents Indian?

Shevon Desai Ann Arbor, MI My parents emigrated from India to the US over 50 years ago. In terms of ethnicity, I think of myself as South Asian – but in terms of race, we are officially Caucasian (my family are Parsis – Indian Zoroastrians whose ancestors originally came from Iran). Race and ethnicity for […]