What Indian Americans can teach African Americans


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The life of the individual has meaning only insofar as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful. – Albert Einstein

In the early 90’s, the quiet suburb of Piscataway, New Jersey consisted of Blacks, Whites, and few Latinos. At that time any other ethnicity was scarce. The Chinese kid in class would be called the “Chinese Kid” by his peers. Slowly but steadily more Asians, especially Indians moved in. They tried to assimilate to the best of their ability but it wasn’t easy. The older Indians wore “strange” clothing and had a pungent scent that offended the American sense of smell. The children wore clothes from K-Mart and always brought their lunch to school. Like many other immigrants, their houses and cars were overpopulated compared to the American standard. Most people assumed they were all related since their last names were usually Patel. Also like many other immigrants, they had thick accents and worked in fast food, retail, and other customer service related jobs. In general, they were humble and timid people that were picked on often and rarely fought back.

Today, many of those awkward children are college graduates; All of those fast food, retail, and customer service businesses are owned and operated by Indians; And the residents that were once crammed into a single home have bought the surrounding houses in the neighborhood. Moreover, now there are Indian grocery stores, movie rental stores, and restaurants. The clothes are more Americanized, the accents are virtually gone, and the sent is Cool Water. They rarely drive anything more luxurious than a Toyota Camry and never add spinning rims to it. In a very short time period, a ridiculed minority became the lifeblood of a community.

Is it that easy?

I know the idea of “The Black Community” is an over-generalization for diverse individuals that are only linked together by physical appearance and a sketchy nearly forgotten past. However, could you, your family, and friends accomplish this in your community? Could you go from being a “corporate person” to the assistant manager at a grocery store, if it meant that your knowledge would springboard your loved ones’ success?

One Reply to “What Indian Americans can teach African Americans”

  1. Alake says:

    this is a very important topic. due to the way many africans were forced into “americanized” living centuries ago, we have forgotten the importance of family and community. if we were to journey back to africa we would see that people survived by leaning on each other. compounds were constructed to house and provide for the community. it is called a collective, where the work of many provided oppurtunity for many. there is a whole economic lesson that we have lost site of. barter and trade? who needed money, when we could exchange goods and services? there was no talk of the village being in a deficit or depression! but in 2009, this is unheard of, unless u are one of the few who still have an appreciation for this system. we as a black community have been conditioned to believe that is every man for himself, but we forget that we are not alone…matter of fact we are still an underappreciated minority and bc of that alone we need to depend more on each other and less on the governmental systems that were created to trap us in poverty and become comfortable with these conditions.

    so yes, we can learn A LOT from the east asian, latin, and many other collective communities.

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