Although South Asian Americans represent different religions, nationalities and cultures, increasingly they are finding themselves “treated as similarly foreign and dangerous,” observes Sangay K. Mishra, an assistant professor of political science at Drew University in New Jersey and author of “Desis Divided: The Political Lives of South Asian Americans.”
Writing in News India Times in the wake of the recent murder in Kansas of an Indian engineer, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, and following assaults and hate crimes against South Asians, Mishra observes that:
Indian Americans in particular — and South Asians in general — are a highly diverse community. Indians are Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and other religions; they come from very different regions and backgrounds and speak different languages. Their targeting reveals that American racism can lump together people who appear physically similar in particular ways as “suspicious,” “threatening” and “outsider” — interpreting their appearance to mean they are Muslim and Middle Eastern.
And now, the professor notes, segments of Indian Americans struggle with how to react to the targeting — whether to act in solidarity with the other targeted communities or find ways of distinguishing themselves from them. He says that many Indian Americans figure that “economic strength and professional achievements will give them a secure place in the nation.”
But that view, he argues, ignores the “fundamental dynamics of racism.” He notes that since 9/11, the South Asian community has suffered from what he calls “security racializing,” whereby a broad swath of immigrants are viewed and treated as potential terrorists.
Go to News India Times to read what Mishra says about conversations he has had recently with South Asian Americans about their fears.