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Twelve South Asian Bar Associations Respond to Time’s Joel Stein

July 8, 2010

The South Asian Bar Association of New York, along with eleven other SABAs across North America, wrote to Time magazine protesting Joel Stein’s now-infamous piece on his hometown of Edison, New Jersey. SABANY’s has garnered attention from the Wall Street Journal and other media around the world.

The full text of the letter is available on SABANY’s website.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rini permalink
    July 10, 2010 2:07 pm

    Dear Members of our Indian-American community,

    As a long time NJ Indian-American resident who has friends of all shapes, sizes, colors and backgrounds, I am proud to uphold our Indian culture and bring members of all races to experience our amazing culture. I have converted many of my non-Indian friends to our amazing food, dance, songs, and Bollywood films! So I am as shocked as each of you of Joel Stein’s article and have joined the public outcry. Privately, though, I am more concerned on a deeper level. I hope you will understand:

    I have been increasingly disturbed to defend our kind as ‘not racists’, based on some of the sick ignorance that happens within our own community as well. I know for a fact that most Indian-origin people do not participate in this ignorance and are amazingly loving people to all color and races. But by allowing the ignorant members of our community to be public, it falsely represents all of us as accepting it.

    For instance, on pinkvilla.com (a blog site targeted at desi girls to experience Bollywood and Indian fashion), young Indian-American teens lambaste duskier Indian stars, forgetting that Indian beauty comes in all colors… (i.e Freida Pinto is too brown to represent India ; ‘dark maid’ comments to dark-skinned models..; fair vs dark wars..). These sorts of racial color comments and glorification/bashing of Indian stars based on their color are accepted as a-ok on that site. The moderators who are adults and should know better, accept and publish comments, and let it continue among these kids. The net result is that many of them who may suffer from self-image issues based on their skin color!

    And more shockingly, I got several emails from my white and black friends saying there was a racist making Indian restaurant reviews calling Indian waiters ‘chimps’, dark, idiots, and all sorts of nonsense (http://www.njindia.us ). After vowing to get to the bottom of this, I decided to write to the NAACP to stop this. Imagine my shocking embarrassment when I realized the reviewer was an Indian-American!

    In this case, how can I properly battle the Joel Steins of the world, when in fact, many members of my community are facing similar cultural self-hated, resulting in a similar ignorance to Joel’s? Furthermore, many members of our Indian community too in fact dislike Edison (and honestly, Oak Tree could use some trees, flowers and major cleaning up… to show our pride.. ). So here is my ‘intended’ imagined letter to Joel to show you the deep dilemma I believe we in the Indian-American community now face. I believe the solution is to clean up our backyard together. I know we can grow and change- making this painful episode, a positive step forward for our community.

    Sincerely, Rini.
    —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
    Congratulations Joel!

    After master-minding the reaction response, you disappear like Garbo. Call us desis dim for not getting the satire that you’re making fun of racists and not us, but… hey!
    Brilliant method, I must say: smack yourself a bit for the safety net of political-correctness.. then smack us harder. Guess what you did?

    YOU OFFICIALLY HERALDED THE NEW HIP COOL FACE OF IGNORANCE BEING LED BY MINORITIES NOW:

    WASPs across the globe must be rejoicing, as minorities like you rip us Indian-Americans up. Reading the blogdom, Indian-Americans are ripped by folks of all shapes, sizes and colors.. heck including even their traitor origin country, India! -> Some African-Americans say hey.. Indians are racists against us.. so let’s make two wrongs a right and rip em! Some NJ Chinese-Americans residents conveniently forget their Chinatowns..and on your facebook, agree with ya! Some liberals are saying Indians are just outsourcers so it’s ok to diss em.. (conveniently forgetting the difference between Indians in India and those who have legally immigrated as Americans is the difference between an American and a Brit).

    And just to jump in this party, our own desi community joins joins racist humor restaurant reviews of Edison itself, via the infamous comedic NJ Indian restaurant reviewer from http://www.njindia.us/! Examples of this dude’s humor matches yours quite well: Ahhh, the good old fashioned humor of the melanin fear factor separating the whiter Indians from the darker ones, calling his waitress the ‘dark, fat girl’ & rude: http://www.oaktreeroad.us/urban-spice-review.html . This guy keeps this up in review after review, often remarking on the dark skin color and calling waiters chimps and all sorts of racial names that the Brits once chose for Indians. Write to the site to stop the ignorance, and they fire back that you’re a disgruntled restaurant owner reviewed badly (brilliant!). So we’re thin-skinned to not laugh (brilliant!). He must be taking a page out your humor book, Joel. brilliant!

    Looks like you found your your twin soul this Indian-American humor reviewer…. we’re all more alike than we think, aren’t we?
    The funny thing is, unlike the huge outcry from SAALT and the Indian-American against you, there is no outcry for this dude…

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