Last weekend, I went to the mall to do some Christmas shopping. With Christmas songs playing and the Santa sitting across the giant Christmas tree, my mood was at an all-time high. Unfortunately, this did not last. Now, what I am about to share is a tale each and every one of us has to tale. A tale where I faced racial discrimination. I’ve lived in New York for over ten years, and consider myself just as much of an American as someone who was born here. I have a diverse group of friends from various different ethnic backgrounds. While it is true that I love learning about different ethnicities and also question my friends on their customs and beliefs, I would never judge them because of their background. So, it is understandable that I was completely baffled at the fact that someone rationalized my actions by my ethnicity.
Here is the whole story. I wanted to make it very general, but then came to the conclusion that it would be difficult for my readers to understand my extremely strong feelings about what happened with the lack of full details. Therefore, I will start from the beginning. I was a Roosevelt Field Mall. I had just exited Macy’s and was ready to head over to H&M to continue my holiday shopping spree with my mother at my side. She had a list in her hand of every store we needed to go to before the Mall closed in less than two hours. Suddenly, I hear someone saying, “Honey, come here, let me show you what I can do to your hair.” It was a woman from a nearby stand, selling hair supplies. I politely was saying no, when she grabs my arm and pulls me towards her. My mother was outraged simply by this action. Without my permission, she started to clip up my hair and ran a hot iron through a random section. I was too in shock to say anything, but my mother was not. She explained that we were very busy today and did not have the time for this. Nevertheless, the woman did not listen. After several more attempts by my mother to have us away from her grasp, she finally obliged. She removed the hot iron from my hair and pushed me to my mother. Again, I was horrified by her acts. As we were leaving, I heard her say, “All Indians are like that.” She continued to go on to say more racist comments with an angry look. This entire situation confused me. Why had she said that it was because of my ethnicity that I had attempted to leave? I had never given her the permission to touch me in the first place. It is 2013, in New York City. We are upon the most diverse areas in the world, and yet there is so much discrimination. I will not disclose the ethnicity of this woman, but it is fair for me to say that I have plenty of friends from other races, including hers. Not once have I heard such blasphemy.
From Rosa Parks, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, we have come a long way to accepting other races. We are all humans, with equal rights, and equal abilities. And even so, there are certain individuals that don’t understand that racist comments are simply unacceptable. I would have said something right at the moment had I not been in such a shock. But even now, this situation still bothers me. I hope that everyone reading this can understand my position, and I am sure that we all, at least once, have experienced such a situation.