You are on page 1of 1

15 CHENNAI sunday 04 12 2016

l l

After a victory that baffled not just America but the world
outside as well, Donald Trump will soon become the 45th
president of the US. Indian-Americans tell us about how
their lives have changed since the Republicans win

Living in
Trumps
America
Horizon

Now a nation of averted eyes Hate spike


Va n i D o ra i sa m y rounded by a multitude of dialects from all over A survey of 10,000 teachers conducted by

I
the world, I felt a belonging. There was solace and the Southern Poverty Law Center (www.
may never see my friend Latifa(name solidarity and a coming-togetherness in that ano-
splcenter.org) after the election of Donald
changed) again. And thats a reality I am nymity. But that November 9 bus ride was differ-
not yet willing to accept. Last week, ent. I sensed exhaustion, wariness and a what- Trump on Nov 8 found that the results
she made the gut-wrenching decision to go have-we-done despair. Maybe it was just me, maybe of the election are having a profoundly
back to Indonesia, leaving behind a very I was just mirroring my own anguish, maybe I negative impact on schools and students in
successful career as a gynaecologist and should never have sought out Yeats Second Com- the US. The main findings:
her stillborn American Dream. She hasnt ing lines that morning. Maybe I should just have
been told shes not welcome here, but she calmed the f*** down. Maybe things would be al- 40% heard derogatory language directed
fears she will be. She fears her young Asian Mus- right, after all. But then, that evening, I heard from at students of colour, Muslims, immigrants and
lim family that includes a three-year-old may nev- Latifa. And I knew it was not just me. people based on gender or sexual orientation
er reconcile with Donald Trumps America. She In the days hence, I devised my own safety
fears she will one day accidentally brush up mechanisms. I now carefully disengage from po- 50% said students were targeting each
against a Trump supporter in New Jerseys notori- litical conversations, either online or off. I am not Amit bandre other based on which candidate theyd supported
ously crowded trains and look up and sure how I might respond, how I will
see hatred in a strangers eyes. How keep the anger down. I do not for a
would the stranger know who she re- single moment believe the trope Nasty talk didnt start with Trump, but it was the province of people
ally was? And she isnt even a hijab- that the Trump supporters voted we all viewed as idiots schoolyard mobs, certain drunks in bars,
wearing, mosque-going Muslim. out of ignorance, that they could guys hollering out of moving cars  Mary Karr, poet, in The New Yorker
Reality is that long bus
When I am asked what I think about not sift rhetoric from reality. No one
ride into New York City

Somehow, the same jokes arent funny anymore


being brown in Trumpland, I say I the morning after election can be that daft. How do you hon-
dont think. Thinking is an evil luxu- day, when your fellow estly believe that a man who brags
ry. Reality is that rabbit hole down passengers avoided each about not paying his taxes is actu-
which there are no sagely caterpillars, others eyes ally going to make your country
only an Evil Joker cackling a gotcha. great again? That a man whose R Chandramohan, 37, software engineer, Texas

L
Reality is reading those sly goading many businesses have gone belly-up
messages on Facebook posted by that long-known is going to bring your jobs back? I have a sense of iving in Republican Texas vant news better. deals a blow to this sector, it will few weeks. Not to mention the im-
American friend who helped you set up your suspended reality even while writing these lines, has taught me a thing or two I came here as a student and affect not just people like me but migrant jokes that, given the
house. He knows fully well that though the post how should I respond to someone who actually be- about survival. Much has did not feel insecure about my also the tech industry in India. times we are facing, seem insen-
has drawn blood, you will be too shocked to re- lieves this stuff ? So, no, no more political talking changed in my world since job. While it is stable for the most According to reports, Trump sitive. My way of dealing with
spond. His crossing over has numbed you. Reality points for me. I could live to regret this standoff- Donald Trump became pres- part, some insecurity has devel- the businessman has been able to this is simple. I tell my American
is that long bus ride into New York City the morn- ish-ness, but it serves my sanity. ident-elect. I now feel a sense of oped. Previously, when my Amer- circumvent loopholes to build a friends that they might want to
ing after election day, when your fellow passengers Eventually, once the anger recedes, I want to discomfort that I find hard to put ican friends joked about the tech- profitable business. And if he hold off their jokes. They say Im
avoided each others eyes. Or it is the silence of the reach out to those Trump supporters among my in words. The next four years are geeks going back to India, I would knows how to do that, then he losing my sense of humour. So, I
grave that hangs over the city streets, as the truth friends and try to understand. I know not all of going to test every American, and laugh with them. Somehow, the knows how to seal them and remind them with veiled humour
sinks in. them are racists or misogynists, that many of Indian-Americans are no excep- same jokes arent as funny any- thats not a bad thing. The issue that unless they belong to a na-
I did not have any illusions when I emigrated them are actually decent human beings who care. tion. I am spooked by his take on more. The nearly $150 bn Indian is he makes statements which are tive American Indian tribe, they
eight years back that I would be part of the mythi- Then, why? How could you? a rollback on H1-B visas and how tech industry relies heavily on often not backed by facts. The are no longer entitled to joke
cal American mainstream. I knew my brown skin But for now, thats not a conversation I can that would affect the community. the H1-B programme. For the fis- number of people who have used about my immigrant lineage and
would be my talisman. I knew I could never fully handle. I was never heavily into watching cal year 2017, America received his half-baked arguments to ar- refer them to ancestry.com to fig-
integrate, that I only had half a foot in the door. the news but November 9 changed close to 2,50,000 H1-B visa applica- gue has gone up. I had to defend ure out theirs.
Yet, never once in those eight years have I felt un- Vani Doraisamy is a freelance journalist and media that. Now I read Indian newspa- tions, say reports. At last check, my career choice and decision to
wanted, unsafe. Sitting in a New York train, sur- analyst transplanted to New Jersey, US, from Chennai pers because they carry the rele- the cap was still 65,000. If Trump immigrate many times in the last As told to Farwa Imam Ali

Frankly, has Despite the Donald, it is still America to me


Indian politics Naren Weiss same. These fears regarding race are ica as misguided for electing a bigot you not to read into this incident in (in every part of the world), but Ive

F
fears that have been in play for hun- and a misogynist is to reduce an en- the exact manner in which you prob- also suddenly begun to experience

ever been better? rom day one of Donald


Trumps candidacy for Presi-
dent of the United States I felt
dreds of years (and are still very
much relevant today).
When my American father asks
tire nation that has been welcoming
of not only me, but of my own ethnic
and multinational family. Dismissing
ably are.
Because heres the truth of the
matter: these types of people will
incredible amounts of love right
here. And while this racism may nev-
er end, I am hopeful that this intense
nothing but fear. A deep sense me not to intervene in public dis- every Trump supporter as a bigot or treat their own race with just as love doesnt either.
of impending doom. putes, its because he knows that my a racist is equivalent to reducing eve- much disrespect as they will other We (the people) have suddenly re-
Amarjit Singh, 63
I did nothing about it being a brown man makes me imme- ry brown person here to a fundamen- races. This is something I learnt alised that we are all in this together.
Taxi driver, New York though. I never initiated a diately more susceptible to attack. talist or a terrorist. And stating that from my own father after I myself And so we are more than ready to

T
protest nor did I join in on an When my Indian mother asks me to this country is nothing more than a was racially abused in India. reach out to one another, to lend a
he 2017 US presidential election has helped effort to stop the man in his tracks. Have instances of outward love in- helping hand or a listening ear, and
me see America for what it truly is. An- Both things I had the power to do. creased? I know that they have. Eve- to fight for what we truly believe in,
other India. Like India, today America is And yet, I didnt. What weve realized now is that we no longer have the luxury of relying on ry day I see dozens of people going together. To fight (as one) for what is
the most divided it has ever been in mod- I became more attuned to things someone else to fight the good fight for us out of their way to make hundreds of right.
ern history. I have also seen many elec- happening around me, people look- Muslims they come across feel wel- What weve realised now is that we
tions and presidents come and go. But I must say ing at me differently. As an imposing come and safe. A smile, a kind word, no longer have the luxury of relying
this one had the most violent overtones. That figure (brown, 63, noticeable beard) shave my beard before boarding air- backward, prejudiced nation is not a warm inviting conversation. I am on someone else to fight the good
said, what changed? Nothing. Hillary Clinton I began to sense when other people planes, its because she knows that only unfair, it is blatantly untrue. thankful that I get to witness this fight for us.
won the popular vote, Trump won the electoral felt thoroughly scared of me. And, this could be the day that my routine Have instances of racism in- daily and routinely. Now, we have to fight it for each
college, the protestors protested, and the com- much like a wild animal encounter- random security check is taken a creased? Im sure that they have. A And again, the truth of that? These other.
mon man still went to work the next day whether ing human society, I felt my own fear step too far. friend/colleague was recently accost- people will treat all races with just as And so, we will.
he liked it or not. tripling theirs. These are all things that people of ed on the street in broad daylight and much respect as they will their own
Im not over thinking things because let us be Heres the thing though: these colour in America know far too well. threatened with a Marry me, [exple- people. Racism is not something Naren Weiss is an actor and playwright
honest, Indian politics has been no different. arent new problems for people of Democracy works though, I firmly tive]. I can make you American or that is borne out of a nation, it is who divides his time between Brooklyn and
First-generation immigrants like me who have colour. believe this. Even when it fails, de- Trump will send you back to your borne out of the individual. And it is Chennai. His plays have been performed
weathered Indian politics know that politics and Ask any black or brown person in mocracy works. country, you immigrant! important to never forget that. across India, Singapore, South Africa and the
politicians are fickle. Some of my friends say we America and they will tell you the To blatantly dismiss half of Amer- I have to pause here though to urge I have always experienced racism United States
bring our divisive politics here when we talk
about platforms like Republican Hindu Coali-
tion and the like. For example, for centuries we
divided India along communal lines, I see the
same mentality being followed here too. So,
My neighbour asked if my bags were packed yet
Christian Indians or Buddhist or Sikh Indians
are not Indians? Why could it not be simply Re-
Sunaina Tirpathy, 45, entrepreneur, California

I
publican Indian Coalition? To me nothing has
changed. Number of incidents of live in Fremont, California which Fremont wearing a headscarf had country I have ever truly known as
And yet, what is the point in fretting? I have intimidation and harassment with its 55 electoral college votes her car vandalised and found a note home. In the last three weeks, I have
plied my taxi business here for decades and recorded by the Southern Poverty voted Democrat this election. When which assumed her scarf was a hijab. had more conversations and persua-
therefore had the opportunity to meet people Law Center between November 9, the spectre of a Trump presidency Apparently, the note said, among oth- sive debates with American friends
from all walks of life who come to visit, or reside the day after the presidential became a reality, I consoled myself er things, this is our nation now. than I have had in my whole life. And
in the Big Apple. Some of my passengers were election, and the morning of that eternally Democrat California Get out. My parents were first-gen- for the first time ever, I have installed
racist twenty years ago, and continue to be so November 18 would weather the Trump effect bet- eration immigrants and moved here security cameras in my home, be-
today. America, like any other country, has intol- ter than others. I was so wrong. On two decades ago. The same evening, cause I feel the bubble I lived in called
erant people. It is not a Trump or a Clinton that
makes them racist or bigoted but each individu-
32% anti-immigrant November 10, my Caucasian neigh-
bour asked me if I was legal. I
I heard on the radio that a Taiwanese
Christian churchs community cen-
Democratic California, with its spike
in hate crimes has finally burst. But
als inherent nature. Even though I do not feel thought she was concerned about the tre in my neighbourhood was vandal- I guess that was bound to happen. Be-
any different given my exposure to the divisive
and violent nature of politics in India, many 23% anti-black rhetoric and said I was good. A few
days later she asked me if my bags
ised with swastikas.
My neighbours passive aggressive
cause we now have a presidency that
believes being anti-gay and anti-mi-
young Indian-Americans feel nervous about the were packed yet. For the next hour or racial profiling and the incidents nority is the only way to make the
hateful rhetoric. I tell them they will be fine so
long as a President Trump does not practice 6% anti-Muslim so, we proceeded to have a curt and
bordering-on-civil conversation
news of another threat against a
woman from the desi community had
that came to light have made me very
nervous. I fight not to give in to fear
majority believe it is an effective one.
Until sanity of some kind returns, I
what he preached during his election about my rights as an American. I not reached me earlier. and wonder what it must be like for will do what I have never done thus
campaign.
5% anti-women never thought I would have to defend
my birthright in this country. I might
I returned home shaken by the
news of how Solonika Pancholy, an
minorities in the Republican states.
It makes me wonder what my life will
far watch my back.

As told to Farwa Imam Ali have reacted with more patience had Indian -American woman hiking in be like for the next years in the only As told to Farwa Imam Ali