From one Indian-American woman to
I saw your statement
. I know it takes the South Carolina legislature to take that Confederate flag down
and you can't legally just do it
yourself, and I'm glad you've now stated that the government ought to take it down
. I know you cried
after the murders; I did too.
We Indian-Americans get a bit of crap here in the US, but if you and I have a sense of proportion and perspective, we look at other people of color and we see how very much better off we are than Native Americans, Latin@s, African-Americans, and the descendants of most other nonwhite immigrants. Middle-class professional Indian-Americans get exoticized in ways that often help us. As long as they don't think we're Muslims, white people here basically trust us and think we're hardworking and smart. You and I benefit from that whole model minority stereotype. Hell, I think one reason the white and Asian guys in the computer science major at UC Berkeley didn't scorn my technical competence and interests was because I'm Indian. Maybe one stereotype partially offset another.
You and I have integrated really thoroughly into white society. And basically we benefit from the fact that a lot of white people's racism doesn't focus on us. So we should use that privilege to stand in solidarity with the victims of racism.
You and I are in community together. We have some shared experiences, and some shared privileges. How do we use them to protect those who are hurting? I make my own personal efforts in my spheres -- my neighborhood, my workplaces, my volunteer communities -- to mentor and protect people with less privilege than me. Not just in the wake of this murder of your constituents, but for months and years afterward, how will you use your
privilege to fight racism?
I don't know enough about your state and your black constituents to speak with authority about how you could best stand in solidarity with them and against racism. (The flag's an open wound, of course; you knew that already, and if I had to bet, I'd bet you started trying, last week, to get that thing taken down, holding private meetings about it so everyone can save face. As I was writing this, you spoke out against the flag, finally; I'm glad you did that.) Yes, there's a political price you would have to pay with the white establishment if they started perceiving you as pro-black. You may have started paying that price, now, coming out against the flag. I hope that, nonetheless, you will use your power as governor and your privilege in the racial hierarchy to advance the work of black activists in your state. The flag fight is a start, not an end. This work will take courage and stamina. I offer you my best wishes.