Hi, I am Amisha, a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, and I have been reflecting on how being Indian has impacted me throughout my life. I have seen a lot of people at the University of Minnesota being part of a huge community with other Indians and speaking their mother tongue. I can understand, but I cannot speak fluently in Hindi, and I have my reasons for that. I was not involved in the Indian community until college.
When I was younger, I didn’t have proficient English grammar skills and was having trouble improving them. I had a different teaching program in my elementary school to help me. My teacher had a conference with my parents telling them that they should not be talking to me in Hindi at home because it is making learning English grammar harder for me. Because of that, I was unable to converse in Hindi that well.
During elementary school and middle school, I was in a predominantly white institution, so I had to fit into the Indian stereotype. There were many times people made fun of me at lunchtime due to the Indian food I would bring from home, so I stopped bringing Indian food for over a year. I had to adapt to not acknowledging my own culture. I felt the need to change my personality to feel accepted and keep friends. Later on, during high school and college, I made many Indian friends, and they called me out for being whitewashed.
People will look at me and say I am whitewashed just because I don’t speak Hindi or am not religious, but I love singing and dancing along to Indian music. After learning from all that, I don’t think it is okay to call someone whitewashed. Nobody knows where someone is coming from, how they have grown up, and the obstacles they have had to overcome. Just because someone doesn’t speak their mother tongue or mostly has non-Indian friends does not mean they don’t care about their culture or are whitewashed. I have used the term whitewashed mainly because of the peer pressure of fitting in with other Indians. However, I think people should be more respectful about assuming people’s situations and backgrounds and accept everyone for who they are.