I love immersing myself in other cultures. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I love learning about foreign customs, traditions, foods, lifestyles, holidays, clothing, superstitions, etc. I also believe that everyone should spend some time in another country to experience what it is like to be on the outside – to be minority.
Have you ever been a minority? A woman in a room of all men? A black person in a room of all whites? A Christian in a room of all Muslims? An English speaker in a room of Chinese speakers? It’s a odd feeling. As a white person, being a racial minority in India has its own set of challenges, but in general they are pretty mild. I always wonder if the price someone tells me is accurate, or if it is doubled because I am white. Do I argue or do I accept? When my dance instructor suggests I join another class which has a performance at the end even though I am obviously the worst in the class I wonder if he is being nice or if he wants a token white girl. Sometimes it makes me a little paranoid and I need to check myself from assuming everyone is out to scam me. About 50% of the time I am right – the auto rickshaw has a fast meter, or I know that bananas cost 20/kg and this guy is telling me 30. But the other 50% of the time I am paranoid for no reason. Always, though, I ask myself in the back of my mind “Is this because I am white?”
I know I am being a little dramatic. These are pretty mild problems compared to what others face – generally being white people assume positive things about me (note, not all true): I am rich, I am educated, I am skilled, and obviously being from the USA I know Obama personally. While the feminist and the activist in me gets annoyed about being put in a box, it is a totally different issue than being assumed to be poor, to be a criminal or to be uneducated and unintelligent. So while I know I have it pretty good, it is still a very interesting perspective to have. To realize that others question their every decision and the decisions of others. I wish more people who are used to being the majority would get to experience being the minority. Our world might be just a little kinder.