In a matter of 10 days, there were three high profile attacks on Indians in the United States. The media stayed largely silent immediately following the attacks. And when the silence was broken, things was speculative— “a potential hate crime,” the newspapers read, “for an unknown cause,” said another. How? Did it just happen that someone screamed “get out of my country” and then managed to shoot two non-white men? How exactly is that *potentially* hatred? Why can’t it just be called for what it is immediately? I don’t get it, I really don’t.
In the days between these attacks, my sister messaged me, telling me to tell our parents not to go on trips to Southern Oregon. “Stay in the larger cities, it’s much safer. Down south tends to be pro-Nazi.” My parents called me– “don’t leave campus excessively, Manu, it’s not worth it.” I learned that my aunts and uncles in India were worried for their kids who’d immigrated to the States recently to pursue their careers- some wanted their kids to return immediately. “America’s no longer our dream.”
I flew back to Portland for Spring Break on Friday, looking forward to a week of relaxing before returning for round 2 of midterms. I waited inside the airport for my parents, who’d been held up by a car accident on the freeway. My mom called me after some time, telling me to come outside- they were almost there. I walked outside, and within two minutes of me standing on the curb, a white man ran across from the parking lot, stopped in front of me, screamed “hey motherfucker, get out” with more hate in his eyes than I’ve ever seen before, and then proceeded to walk into the airport. The people around me were frozen- they didn’t do anything. One woman walked up to me and said “are you okay, honey?” and that was it. My parents pulled up seconds later, and it was everything I could do to not burst into tears.
After telling them about it, my parents said “thank god it was just that, it could’ve been so much worse.” Couldn’t it have been better too? Every time it’s been mentioned since, they’ve told me to keep my views and my feelings to myself. It’s not safe to share with anyone else, Manu, just keep a low profile. Don’t risk it.
But will me being complacent do anything? I really don’t think so. It doesn’t matter how quiet or vocal I am- because that man knew nothing about me, where I came from, who I am, and for him, it didn’t matter than I am as American as he is. He felt that it was appropriate to verbally attack me because of the color of my skin. And how will that change based on my behavior? And why must I forego my freedoms for people like him?
This administration has enabled bigots to bully, institutionally supports and encourages racist behavior- as proven by the Muslim ban, Trump’s elongated silence on hate crimes, and the derogatory rhetoric used each and every day. Staying quiet, being loud, who cares what we do? Keeping quiet certainly isn’t going to save any of us. This behavior isn’t going anywhere– not until we do something about it. As the number of minorities in America grow, so does the hatred and resentment against- so does the sentiment that we are a threat to some people’s idea of America. Let’s not be complacent.