Monthly Archives: July 2015

A New Ode To Brown

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It took me years to accept the color of my skin. I vividly remember how emotional it was for me when a “boy” I once dated called it off due to my skin color being darker than his and may not be accepted in his family because of it. I was haunted by his words for quite a while. The fact is; it was not the first time that I was made to feel that some things might not be within my reach just because I did not look a certain way. There were subtle signs/gibes from childhood that made me realize that due to a genetic “accident”, I should probably stand a few paces behind other girls who happen to have a fairer complexion. At that time, all my achievements, years of education, musical training, and other talents seem negligible. I was reduced to a color palette on a wall and that one statement he made shook me. At that point, I saw myself as some others have been seeing me – it was truly a revelation. Am I really that dark and if so, was it going to hold me back?

As a human being, it is natural to retaliate and my response to this one incident was to go out of my way to prove to everyone how beautiful I actually was. I spent years of my time and energy trying to prove that I was indeed attractive in spite of my brown skin. I did some modeling, participated in social functions, and I was the well-liked girl in college minus the “mean girl syndrome.” And after all this, it took me some time to understand there was no changing someone’s perspective of me regardless of how hard I worked to be successful. There comes a very low point in one’s life when you look around and see that the only individual that will value “you” for “being you” is in fact, “yourself.”

We as women have a strong tendency to discount our so-called imperfections by being the perfectionist in other areas of our lives. However, the fact remains that the color of our skin, no matter what shade of brown it be is an integral part of who we are. There is no discounting for your person – you are who you are.

As years went by, I learned a lot about myself. I discovered who I really am. I realized I was tired of trying to be. I just wanted to be. Now, I am a woman who finds intellectual and emotional fulfillment in my every day life. The boy who once hurt my feelings was simply a temporary wave in the ocean of my life. As a person who spent parts of her life trying to be something other than herself, I can tell you first hand that this is one mission impossible (even Tom Cruise can’t save) and it is damn exhausting.

There comes a day where you will find yourself sitting on the floor thinking, “this is it, I’m done, and no more!” The moment that follows this, is when you look at yourself in the mirror and see the “Brown Girl” that is and not the slightly lighter shade of brown that could be. What can I say, I stopped using the infamous Fair & Lovely skin lightening cream, refused to sit in the shade while everyone played in the sun, and I began to use Indian spices (hint hint, turmeric) to cook rather than lather on my face like it was cake-icing. Finally, I understand and accept that what will bring shine to my complexion are not the fancy foundations that I find nor the beauty facials I receive. But, it is the smile on my lips and the sparkle in my eye.

With that said, I, the “Brown Girl” learned to embrace the color of my skin and accept it just as it is. Brown is not my color, it is who I am, it is my pride, it is my pledge, it is my pleasure, it is the essence that flows through me…

St. Patrick’s Day, From The Heart By A Guest Blogger

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I never understood why my parents decided to move to America. I was 7, yet my world was changing forever. I left my home, friends and most importantly my grandparents. It was everything I knew. The move was not something I was prepared for. Life was good for us in India. But my parent’s explanation was that we would have a better life. It was the BEST in India, so I didn’t need anything better. Even now, looking back, I feel in my grandparents’ house there is a part of me still there.

Initially, we struggled when we arrived to America. My parents worked hard and long hours. I didn’t like the food, it didn’t have my grandmother’s love. Adjusting to the new environment took me a long time. I was the only Indian in my school. No one knew how to pronounce my name. It was always Kristy or Christina, even though there is no “t” in my name. After a while, I was just happy if I was noticed or called upon. I didn’t have any friends, since I was not allowed to have non-Indian friends. Did I mention I was the only Indian?

I vividly remember this day at school where I was being pinched by my classmates. It happened over and over, my arm turned blue. With tears running down, I finally had the courage to tell the teacher. She said I was supposed to wear green today. It was St. Patrick’s Day. I am a vegetarian, which Texans can’t even fathom. Kids were fascinated how I remained alive without meat. Eventually we acclimated and we lost our accents and the nostalgic feeling.

Balancing my eastern heritage and my western pull was always a struggle for me. Sometimes I felt split right in the middle, half of me wanted to be pious while the other half wanted to party. Today, I still struggle with this identity balance. My parents did a fantastic job preserving our culture at home. However, outside of the home, where did I fall – on the east or the west?

I moved when I was 7, when my roots were just spreading and getting a grip on the land. Unfortunately, they were uprooted quickly before they got a chance to establish. I have friends who moved to the United States as teenagers. They had time to establish those roots in India; which meant they have a very strong cultural identity and I have just faint memories. Over the years I extracted what I like from both cultures and made them part of my identity. I enjoy Bollywood and Hollywood. I love my American and Indian clothes. I cook Indian and Tex-Mex.

With growth and maturity I realized why my parents made that life-altering decision. I appreciate all their sacrifices and humiliation they experienced as immigrants. I would never have the courage to pack up and leave this home. Today I make sure my kids wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Love Your Body

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Loving yourself on the outside is just as important as loving yourself on the inside. This is something we tend to lose sight of.

Many times in life we are willing to accept the imperfections of our own personalities. We understand that everyone is going to make mistakes. Sometimes we might lose our temper when we shouldn’t or perhaps we say the wrong thing at the wrong time. We get that. We accept that “pobody’s nerfect” (get it?!)

But why is it that we forget this when it comes to our outsides? Nobody will have the perfect body. Or skin. Or hair. Or feet. Or whatever. If you ask any of the “beautiful people” in the world, they will admit that there is something about themselves that they would like to change. And sometimes the things that they don’t want to change still get photoshopped out of photos!

We know this. We know photoshop exists. Lighting tricks. That everyone has bad hair days or feet that are too small and butts that are too big. But instead of remembering that our outside are just like our insides, imperfect, we beat ourselves up for it.

This needs to stop. We need to love ourselves for who we are inside and out. While both areas can always use “care and upkeep,” that doesn’t mean we should fall apart when there is a spot on the inside or outside.

Today we challenge you to love your body. Every inch of it. Because it’s through love that things grow and change best. And the more you love your body, the more comfortable you will be in it.

Stop Racism

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Racial tensions have been on the rise in the United States. But racism is an issue not just in America, but around the world. Ignoring it isn’t going to  make it go away.

Even in India, race issues cause turmoil for many.

Instead, we must be active in working together to end racism.

Here are a few steps that you can take to help stop racism:

1. Listen to, validate, and ally with people who report personal and systemic racism

2. If you see something, say something.

3. Combat racism through national-level political channels.

There is even more that you can do. To learn more visit “How to be an anti-racist activist