Because it bothers me enough that I can’t sleep right now.
One time when I was out, some guy saw me killin’ it to 1,2-step and told me, “Hell yeah, bro! I’ve always wanted to party with Kumar!!!”
So I told him, “Good to hear. Hope you find what you’re looking for.” Gave him the finger and walked away.
He came back and asked me if he offended me. Told me he meant to give me props. “Let me buy you a drink, man. No disrespect.”
I told him, “I’ll buy my own drink and I can tell you why you’re kind of a dick if you’re willing to listen.”
He said, “I don’t need a lecture, bro. I know what I meant.”
And I told him a lecture wouldn’t be enough.
Because he’s not only practicing a culture that tells him he can call me Kumar because of the color of my skin, he’s breeding a culture that thinks it’s hilariously ironic for me to get high and go to White Castle instead of ruin your day by making the elevator smell like curry or set the curve in your Orgo class.
I am not your slumdog millionaire.
I am not tech support.
I did win a spelling bee once in 6th grade, but it takes more than an old trophy for me to spell out the error in your thinking.
Do not lean over to me at the gym while I try to get in this pitiful mile and show me you are listening to Jai Ho, because I do not lean over and show you that I am listening to The Killers.
Me and Mindy Kaling may agree, but I am not familiar with her story.
Our skin may have been touched by the same sun and the same genes, but I’m sure I’m more like your neighbor than I’ve ever been like her.
Yes, I saw the brown guy on Skins. No, I don’t think we’re very similar.
No, I didn’t know an Indian actress was going to be in the next Fast and Furious movie. Did you fucking know there’s a white girl on TV somewhere right now?
Yes, I did hear about the bombing at the Boston Marathon. No, I was not there.
Yes, I’ve been to Boston. No, I don’t know those guys.
I’ve never been ashamed of my culture. But I am so ashamed of what this country has made it.
I can dance like a human. Not “well for a brown guy.” Not “better than any white people you know.”
I could lecture you all day and you’d still probably think, “Well, that’s not what I meant.”
But that’s the thing about a culture that appropriates my existence through irony.
You don’t have to mean it to make me feel less human.
You don’t have to mean it to ensure that every unconventional thing I do is a nuance derived from the media that has placed me on the other side of a fence. A fence that allows me to borrow but does not allow me to cross. A fence that puts me on display, but does not open for my kind.
You don’t have to mean it to make certain that even if I deviate from what you expect, I am nothing more than a plague on your reality.
You don’t have to mean it to equate me to those innocent men and women you choose to bomb, but grant me amnesty because I talk like you and live next door, allowing me to “party with you.”
You don’t have to mean it to illegitimize and ignore the story of my parents’ struggles. The story of my parents’ hard work. The story of my family’s migration. The story of my family’s setback after those towers fell.
You don’t have to understand why I’m offended, but I don’t have to understand what you meant.
And I don’t even fucking like White Castle.