Being an Immigrant in 2020

When I came to the United States in 2004, my family back home was envious of 4-year-old me. I was going to be raised in the most luxurious land that they could only dream about. I was going to be rich, educated, and maybe a little too “modern.” I understand where they were coming from. I understand that because I was one of the few that got the opportunity of a lifetime, I would be “privileged.” Am I, though? 

America has given me the freedom to be independent. I’m the first girl in my family to live alone during college, and am majoring in something that I am actually interested in. I truly value that I can go to college, have an iPhone, or even just my own room. I wear what I want to, and can go wherever I want. It’s an insane amount of privilege compared to my cousins back home. 

However, this freedom has given me a new perspective that they do not agree with. Whether it is social issues or political debates, there’s always a difference of opinion. Many immigrants have to hear that they are now “too progressive.” They believe they have gone so far ahead of their roots that they are no longer one of them. They become like the characters they see in a movie that “has lost the plot.” It’s unfortunate that they are so quick to stereotype the land they are in awe of. 

While I may not feel Indian sometimes due to these mindsets, I don’t feel American either. 

The political climate in the past few years has made immigrants feel like outsiders. I may have grown up here and am now a citizen, but the new administration has made it clear that I am not an American, I am an immigrant. That word holds a lot of weight, and it’s upsetting that no matter how long people live in this country, they aren’t considered one of them. 

The discrimination against my people is still very much alive. People still think that all Indians are nerds, reek of curry, and are introverts. That’s not true. I would like to believe I am an exception to these stereotypes, as well as many other Indians living in the States. There’s much more to us, and as much as America tries to focus on diversity, it fails in some aspect or other. For example, while trying to include Indian representation on TV, a lot of it consists of caricatures and stereotypes. My pet peeve is using the Indian accent for humor purposes. Indians try so hard to be able to assimilate into American society and for other Americans to make light of their efforts is quite distasteful. 

My family in India thinks I am now American. Americans think I am Indian. Where do I belong? I don’t know. My family thinks I am no longer Indian because of my new experiences and perspectives. America never thought I was one of them from the beginning. 

So, while everyone thinks I have the best of both worlds, do I really?