“Immigrants. We get the job done”, said Alexander Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette, not the real historical figures of course, but their present day storytellers in the acclaimed Broadway musical Hamilton.
With Indian and Pakistani diaspora being few of the largest in the world, specially in the United States of America, at 44,66,000 in number, what does the new and controversial leadership and global terrorism mean for Indian and other communities abroad? With hate crimes against minority communities on the rise, let us look at recent data reflecting discrimination, racism and ‘typecasting’ (non theatrically speaking).
In the 1980s ‘hate group’ namely the Dotbusters, known so as a jape at the bindis worn by Hindu women, specialized in harassing and attacking Indian (or anyone who seemed Indian) individuals and pushing them out of Jersey city, New Jersey. With the objective of White Supremacy, they stated “We will go to any extreme to get Indians to move out of Jersey City”, in a letter to the Jersey Journal.
After the shattering 9/11 attacks in 2001, the cultural after effects still remain horridly fresh. Along with increase in religiosity and patriotism, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Arabs alike were the mistaken targets of hate crimes. Such crimes were justified as retaliation or payback for 9/11. In one incident, Balbir Singh Sodhi was murdered at a gas station after his turban instigated a white supremacist.
On August 5 2012, a retired army man shot 6 people and injured 4 others at a Gurudwara in Wisconsin, out of racial hate. The shooter, a self proclaimed white supremacist is only one of the thousands of members of white supremacist ideologies.
On February 22 2017, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani were shot at in Kansas, killing the former. The shooter, an army veteran mistook them for Arabs while yelling “get out of my country”.
Even though individuals on Indian origin lead few of the most prestigious multi-national organisations in the world, say, Indra Nooyi, Sundar Pichai, Ajay Banga, are we still taxi drivers, terrorists and shop owners on foreign land?
As actor, rapper, activist Riz Ahmed wrote,”You are intermittently handed a necklace of labels to hang around your neck, neither of your choosing nor making, both constricting and decorative.”
In the ever changing and controversial world, immigrants deal with hate, stereotypes, presumptuous typecasting, while playing the normal, less scrutinising part of feeding mouths, earning and living.
Either ways, they play their part, and get the job done.