What Indian Americans can teach African Americans
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?