issue #77 - the 'other' one
Last night I slept hard.
I fell asleep in Rho’s bed after we watched President-Elect Biden and Vice-President-Elect Harris speak. And after crawled into my own bed, I slept harder and more deeply than I have in years.
Four years, to be precise.
I know this election outcome is disappointing and disheartening for millions of Americans. And having mourned the outcome of an election before, I know how it feels.
But I hope you’ll keep reading as I attempt to express how being an ‘other’ in this country has been especially difficult for these past four years.
I have never felt like I belonged anywhere.
Here in the States, my name was constantly mispronounced and mocked. I wished for my name to be Jennifer, that my skin was pale and my hair brown or blonde. I resented my mother for having me learn Bharathanatyam and not ballet, and for wearing Indian clothes instead of dresses to parties thrown by our family friends.
And when we spent every summer in India, my accented Telugu was teased by my cousins. That I needed more ghee or yogurt to temper the spiciness of the food, that I had to drink bottled or boiled and filtered water, and that I didn’t know the rules of cricket or khabadi were constant reminders that I didn’t really belong.
I was a girl of two cultures, but never felt a sense of belonging in either.
The great promise of the United States of America is that we all define America. And today’s America embraces my culture and so many others in a mainstream way that is wonderful and exciting. And Barack Obama’s election - a man who spent his own childhood being othered - gave me the sense of belonging to this country that I have never felt before.
Donald Trump’s rise and eventual election - with his hateful words targeting anyone who wasn’t White, cis-gendered, straight, and Christian - ripped that feeling away. And with it, the sense of safety and security I had always felt in this country.
I claim many states in this beautiful country as home - New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Washington, and North Carolina. I’ve traveled to many more and have loved breaking bread with my fellow Americans.
And I have never once felt unsafe. Until Trump was elected.
Watching White terrorism target the anyone that didn’t fit their narrow view of American was terrifying. Watching science be routinely ignored and dismissed has been terrifying, especially during a global pandemic.
Watching good people’s minds be poisoned by lies, vitriol, and hatred has been terrifying.
And watching the Republican party - the party that abolished slavery, expanded healthcare access, and promoted reproductive freedom - offer the weakest words and no action was terrifying and saddening.
I am a proud American. I will always be all-in on America. But for the past four years, America did not feel like it was all-in for me or so many others who have been ‘othered’ their entire lives in this country.
America, despite its incredible promise and accomplishments, was born from White supremacy. The birth of this nation displaced the Native Americans that called this land home before we did, and with the blood of Black men, women, and children who were the property of White men.
White women bought into this system until they didn’t, and they fought for their rights but not those of Black and Brown women.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ victory is not the magic bullet that will cure the ‘otherism’ problem we have. But it offers the reset we desperately need to remember that we are ONE nation and we all love this country.
We all want the right to a dignified, healthy, and safe life, with equal rights protected under law.
Democracy is not a destination, but a process. This election, like the ones that came before and the ones that will come, is but one step in this process.
But may this one mark a reckoning to address our dark history and to work for a brighter future.
If these words moved you, please consider sharing them with your platform or with the loved ones who view politics and America differently than you do.
I read zero books this week. I cannot wait to replace doomscrolling with reading this week and every week to come
The Top 5
America’s Problem is That White People Want It to Be a Failed State (Eudaimonia)
This article triggered a lot of DMs, for which I offer an explanation on WHY it’s so important to read the article with an open mind and heart, and be willing to be uncomfortable. My thoughts are saved on the White 🇺🇸 highlight in my Instagram.
The Catch Up
Monday (curated by Hiwote Getaneh)
What Was Fun? (Vox)
When Are We Truly Productive? (The School Of Life)
8 Ways To Read The Books You Wish You Had Time For (Harvard Business Review)
The Political Is Personal (PEN America)
Sana Javeri Kadri on Building a Pantry You Love (Girls’ Night In)
Mitra Jouhari’s Airhead Act (The Cut)
America's new power couple: Joe and Mitch (Politico)
We Should Have Known (The Dispatch)
Commentators call on Republicans to surround Philly. Philly social media responds: You’ve obviously never met us (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
I’m skipping Things I Love this week. But if you do enjoy this content and are of the ‘how can I support your work?’ energy (which I appreciate from the bottom of my heart), I’ll ask you to support this platform by upgrading your subscription ($5/month or $50/year).
And if you’ve already subscribed but want to share #5SmartReads with your loved ones, you can gift a subscription as well.
Sharing is free and much appreciated, so please consider sharing #5SmartReads with your online and offline loved ones.
Your financial and social support of this newsletter allows me to create this content and not depend on Facebook-owned platforms to distribute it. I have some big plans for #5SmartReads in 2021, and I’m thrilled that you’re a part of it.
All my love,