I love NPR…and everyone morning I tune into NPR on my drive to work. This morning, I did just the same. Only difference this morning was that there was an ongoing interview. A sweet, confident, young female voice that was describing what it means to be “an outsider” and “a pioneer.” I loved her answer:
“I sort of refuse to be an outsider, even though I know that I very much look like one to a lot of people, and I refuse to view myself in such terms.” – Mindy Kaling
It was like I had found a soul-mate/idol in a complete stranger. When women are in power positions or ethnic “minorities” such as Indian/Asian/African American/Hispanic achieve cultural successes/break cultural limitations, they are touted as pioneers. On the same token, they are considered an “outsider” by their own group & by the society. But here, we have a young, strong, talented, South-Asian woman stating that she never considers herself as an outsider or different. As an immigrant woman, I know the difficulty through which my family has strived to assimilate with the “American” way. And now, after the days of playground bullying & picking have long passed, I too am proud to say that I am not an “outsider.” I do not require special recognition for tasks that would be considered mundane or expected for the “American way.” I deserve recognition for making society proud & fulfilling my responsibility, but I would be skeptical if someone were to say “as a South Asian [or female] you have accomplished _____”. Because, in America, our potential is not dictated by our ethnicity, gender, or background, instead it is dictated by our own talent & tenacity to fulfill our dreams. So, like Kaling says, “I think that it’s insidious to be spending more of your time reflecting …and talking more and more in smart ways about your otherness, rather than doing the hard work of your job.”
Read more about her interview here!
PS – I have not watched her show, but I will certainly now!