Wednesday, June 04, 2003
The other Americans
This afternoon ESPN replayed the American National Spelling Bee. There is this whole debate about the unnecessary pressures being wrought on young children, but this post is not about that.
America is a nation of foreigners. Growing in Dravidian politics of Tamil Nadu, I�d rather not go into who was a �settler� and who was the �original inhabitant� as I know this kind of discussion is farcical. But if you consider �white protestant� as stereotype American, then Blacks, Hispanics, Indians, Italian, Jews, etc. are the later immigrants. Going by what Michael Moore alludes to in his film, we can probably split American society into two halves: The conservative �traditionally American� and the �unwanted alien immigrant American�. It is somewhat funny that the American constitution, being so well written, caters to the existence of both these groups. America is the land for the �free immigrant� it is also the land of the Pilgrim Fathers. Yet, the power centres have always been with the �traditional American� or so I get to understand.
Now what is all this got to do with the Spelling Bee? Because the spelling bee shows you who the future �traditional American� is going to be. I noticed that a majority of the kids were white, then there were some Jews, then there was this ubiquitous all American mixed raced child, there was one black, hardly any Hispanic and a lot of Indians. And who won the bee? Sai Gunturi: an American of Indian origin. We, Indians, after the Jews and the other Western European immigrants, are probably the best set of people to fit into the �traditional American� mould. Not the Chinese, not the Africans, not the Hispanics: these are the alternate Americans�the people who stand for the non-conservative, liberal and free democracy America is meant to be. But going by what Arundati Roy says in Outlook, these are the guys that populate the American �liberating� Army. Being Indian, is it something to be proud of? The richest immigrant community in America: where almost everybody, barring a cab driver or two, almost always is in a white-collar job? Why all this concern about Americans: My sister in now part of the �traditional American set�. My nephew is an all-American. Half my family is already there and I have the nerve to criticise America for being conservative.
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