Jay - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on October 17, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: equality
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I am American. But some people do not believe this. Some people refuse to look past my skin. All they see is an alien. I am no alien. When they tell me to go back to my country, I reply, “I am already here.” It is not that I do not accept my heritage. I am proud to be an Indian, but can’t I be accepted?

My parents were born in small cities in Southern India. They both moved to the United States to finish college in Maryland. Soon after, I was born. My parents did whatever they could to make sure I was brought up in a traditional American society. They even taught me English before teaching me their mother-tongue, Telegu. They prepared me for the world I was about to face as I entered elementary school. As I grew older, I wondered why they did not raise me more like an Indian than like an American. Now, at 15 years of age, I understand exactly why they did this. They wanted me to be accepted.

It was not until my first trip to India that I Actually caught a glimpse of my heritage. When I got off the plane I asked my mom, “Are we in India?” Other than the fact that everyone looked Indian, it seemed just like America. As I entered the airport, I asked my mom if I could eat something. She bought me a Kit-Kat bar. As we drove to my uncle’s house from the airport, we stopped to eat lunch at a Pizza Hut. When I got to my uncle’s house, I turned on the television and started watching “Pokemon” on Cartoon Network. When I returned home after the trip, I was caught in a state of perplexity. What was this place I visited? Was it India, or was someone playing a cruel practical joke on me? It seemed just like America.

My friends sometimes make fun of my culture. I know they are just joking, and while I laugh on the outside, I scream on the inside. It hurts to know that people could be so narrow-minded. They think of India as a land of poverty where the sun burns day and night, baking our skins and taunting us. They refuse to accept the fact that Indians are very similar to Americans. The funny thing is that in India, people do not treat me as an Indian, but rather an American. Apparently I am neither American nor Indian. So what am I?

I believe that people need to look past their differences and see the similarities in each other. A narrow-minded person sees only the differences and does not understand the similarities. I may look different, but am I really all that different? I like pizza, and I like “nan with paneer.” I like rock music, and I like Indian classical music. Everyone has something in common with everyone else. They just have to look for it, rather than ignore it.