Growing Up… Asian-American


Asians and Asian Americans and their involvement and hardships in society today (Photo Courtesy of NBC News).

Racial injustice has always been an issue globally, including in the U.S. Many people immigrate to other countries because of the desire to have a better opportunity for themselves and their families. In America, the state of Georgia is celebrated for the state’s vast diversity. While the state is high in diverse backgrounds and orientations, it is not exempt from racial issues due to there being differences among the citizens and visitors. These acts are none other than discrimination, which is hard to escape when one is different than the majority.

In the Parkview area, there is a wide range of diversity between students and staff. A junior student from Parkview named Simran Mohanty has found herself suffering from such acts of discrimination. Mohanty is of Indian descent as her parents are from India. She states, “…they [her parents] remain, Indian citizens while being on a green card for America. I was born here, so my nationality is American while my heritage is Indian.” What many may not know is that nationality and ethnicity are entirely different categories. Ethnicity refers to one’s family’s origin. Meanwhile, nationality is where you currently reside. 

When the coronavirus first made its appearance in America, many Asians and Asian Americans became victims of assault and violence. Many of these instances were caught on camera and spread throughout social media platforms like wildfire. It is common knowledge now that the virus originated from China. The reason for the assaults was that blame was being thrown on the Asian community. Being a member of the Asian community, Mohanty states, “Eastern Asians are being incredibly scapegoated in current events. I can not have a completely valid opinion seeing as I am not East Asian. Through my observations and friend’s experiences, COVID-19 has been fueling Anti-Asian racism and xenophobia.” Mohanty also mentions how higher authorities are doing little to aid in the situation as well. “The fact that our recent president called the pandemic a “Chinese Virus” stems from America’s long history of scapegoating their people of color- from the Black Death, Ebola, etc.,” she says. Many Asian owned businesses, whether big or small, have undergone acts of vandalization, moving locations, or companies dying out due to ignorance. Mohanty explains her viewpoint on the situation as she describes how difficult it is to believe, “I think it’s ridiculous people are blaming Asians for a worldwide pandemic. What is even more ridiculous is that the racism started before the pandemic even hit America. The spread of the disease of racism sure spreads a lot quicker than the spread of the virus…”

Despite Simran having always lived in Georgia, it does not exclude her from the prejudice she has faced. She expresses, “Racism towards Asians is a lot more normalized than you would think. We are considered a “model minority,” which is a very harmful myth. We are often presented with a particular form of prejudice. It seems like Indian Americans are being regarded far less like people, and even more, like breathing jokes and memes; being made a fool of and mocked.” She mentions how she has never been physically assaulted from her appearance, but she has witnessed “the “Indian” accent jokes, the computer science stereotypes, and the smelly curry jokes. Casual racism and stereotyping towards South Asians are not as talked about.”

The rising senior has many things to think about, considering that college is right around the corner. Unfortunately , one of the obstacles that she faces is whether she can get into her schooling choice based on her heritage. Mohanty recognizes that because she is Asian, her chances of being accepted to her top picks are very limited. “Asians are at a racial disadvantage because Asian students predominate at many colleges. Colleges are more likely to accept other minorities for the diversity factor and because of the “Asian Penalty.” I have to appear less Asian to attract college admissions to look closer into my common application.” Because of this, it creates a disservice to students similar to Simran since they are often rejected as a result of their heritage or, worse, only accepted because of their origin in hopes of raising the school’s diversity campaign.

When it comes to having differences from those around oneself, their values and experiences shape who they are. For Mohanty, her father sacrificed a lot for her, and she looks up to him as someone she respects and admires. She takes pride and acceptance in who she is with her upbringing and her parents’ morals. Therefore, while she has had moments where she has thought about becoming more assimilated, she knows that because of her father, “Even if he immigrated to America, he wouldn’t want me to give up my culture.”