By: Aanchal (Angel)
This article explores and discusses the reality of being Indian in Thailand. It goes over the issue of racism and how to deal with it.
PS: Everybody’s experience with racism is different, it is not a competition. This article intends to shine a light on this topic and promote owning up to racist and microaggressive comments. Furthermore, please keep in mind, when you are confronting racism please do it when you think it is appropriate as confrontation might intensify the situation leading to dangerous consequences.
Gaining consciousness of my identity was horrifying, the moment I realized that simply being Indian could set me back in life, I denied all my culture and heritage. When asked whether I am Indian, I politely denied and reassured them I was Thai.
“You sound white.” I hear this phrase every single day, yet I still do not have an appropriate response to this comment. I don’t know whether I should explain to them that I picked up accents from youtube videos or should I narrate to them the reality that an Indian accent could cost me a potential friend, grade, or job?
Going into detail about each and every racist encounter I have had will eventually lead to you clicking off this article. I’m sure some of you are thinking “ugh… I’m so tired of hearing about racism”, well I am tired of experiencing it. Whether it is a racial slur or a microaggressive comment, I, alongside many others, experience racism on a daily basis while living in an Asian country.
Asians experience racism from other races too, so you would assume that people living in an Asian country would be more mindful with their racism but that, unfortunately, is not true. Nor Asians nor other races have spared me with their racism. I am not trying to say that everyone is racist, but an ample amount of people are. There are enough racists for every Indian to have at least one experience with racism and there is nothing I can do to stop this racism.
Changing yourself does not change racists because no matter how “white” you sound, how “whitewashed” you get, or how much you change to be liked by them, it will never be enough. I cannot singlehandedly end racism, but I can promote more of us to speak up and lessen the struggle for future generations.
While this article is about my personal experience as being Indian, the following applies to people from other races as well. We need to start owning our heritage and identity. Many of us are guilty of concealing our culture in hopes of experiencing less racism but truth is, we should be proud of our culture. It’s a difficult but necessary first step, especially if you’ve been dismissing your culture for so long.
Owning your identity is an awfully tricky process. It starts with a simple correction of the butchering of your ethnic name.
“My name is pronounced Aa-Chul, not Anne-Chile” goes a long way.
Provided that you are able to pronounce Timothee Chalamet and learn the pronunciation of gnocchi, you can learn and pronounce ethnic names.
Once you’ve learned to own up to your roots, own up to correcting microaggressive and racist comments. Do not let it slide. (Please note to do this only when appropriate, sometimes it may lead to dangerous consequences.)
Telling your classmate that you don’t eat curry everyday is a small start. Don’t laugh at your own ethnicity with the racists, you are not different. You are feeding into the bigger problem and allowing them to hate your own. You become that “one friend” who told them it was okay. It is not, and never will be okay to be racist.
Last but not least, pay homage to your country. It might not be your favorite place nor will it have the perfect government, but if we ourselves cannot learn to respect our country, we cannot expect others to do the same.