Last Wednesday, January 6th, I, like most of us, was working on implementing new work projects for 2021. I was excited to start working on plans we had laid out over the past few months and felt a sense of renewal in this first week of 2021. Since that ball dropped on December 31st I think we all felt a collective sense of relief and bid a hearty “good riddance” to 2020, thinking of all the positivity and goodness that awaited us in 2021. But not even six days in, around 3PM EST, we were met with horrific images of domestic terrorists storming the US Capitol building, threatening the lives of law enforcement and public servants. I looked through the images in horror, scanning their faces and pulling one commonality from everyone who was there – none of them looked like me, or my family. My heart sank as I watched images of white supremacist Trump supporters storm the Capitol steps, chanting words like “Stop the Steal” and I was amazed at how emboldened they all were and the incredible sense of entitlement they all seemed to have.
I thought back to an incident I witnessed a few years ago, which I wrote a blog post about. Then too, I was shocked at the sheer sense of entitlement that woman felt when she unleashed her racist attack on the Middle Eastern man at Target. I felt the exact same emotions that warm August day in 2018 as I did last Wednesday – disgust, fear and astonishment at how Americans of different races and ideologies seemed to exist in completely different universes under completely different sets of rules. This is by no means a new revelation for me, as I have dealt with racist microaggressions my whole life, as have my immigrant parents. But the lack of accountability that has been accompanying these terrorist acts, perpetrated by a specific group of individuals who all happen to be white is especially scary, given the fact that my family and I were placed on the “no fly list” as a precaution after the 9/11 attacks, even though we are Hindu and are all US citizens.
What’s it like being brown in America right now? It sucks. It sucks to see black and brown people consistently persecuted and oppressed while white people are consistently pardoned. But it sucks even more being a brown mom in America, because I’m raising two brown boys, who will be immediately judged by the color of their skin before they even open their mouths. My 10-year-old son has already been told to go back where he came from, which confused him so much since he was born in St Louis, MO. His sweet innocence wondered if we needed to move back to St Louis after that racist incident, to which I chuckled “No, we’re staying right here”
After the year we had in 2020, I am exhausted from homeschooling my two boys, pivoting and relaunching my company, and losing my co-founder and my whole support system. Adding on the fear of continued civil unrest and race-fueled protest and domestic terrorism makes me tired to my bones. I hope that a new administration renews my sense of security in an unstable world, but until then I plan on staying put in my house and making sure I protect my brown boys as much as I can.