The veto of a bill in Arizona that would have allowed discrimination against innocent people got me thinking of the discrimination Daddy faced coming to this country.
It was this experience with discrimination that prompted him to push for us to not speak Hindi for fear we may develop a slight accent or to draw unnecessary attention towards us. He wanted his family to be integrated as possible, but as is plainly evident, no matter how much progress we've made as a country, there is still much, much more progress to be made.
Daddy himself did not have much of an Indian accent. He once told me before he took a trip to Europe while with GM, he spoke to a German gentleman over the phone who he was going to meet once he landed. When he arrived and met the man, the man was visibly shocked Daddy wasn't white because he could not pick up an accent on the phone (though you'd think his name would've given it away... hmmm 😆. But I don't think the gentleman meant it in a negative way, though unfortunately, this wasn't always the case.
Daddy had a good job in Ohio at Corning. He was doing very well there, won numerous awards, and was rapidly rising through the ranks. But then all of a sudden, a new VP was hired who didn't like him (he likely felt threatened), and he was let go for "poor job performance" or something along those lines, even though his reviews were stellar.
But he didn't fight it at the time and accepted a position with GM in Michigan. He started at a relatively high level, but then proceeded to stay at the same level for years, even though his performance evaluations were stellar. His supervisors would constantly recommend him for promotions, but he always got denied without explanation. Daddy's supervisors would come up to him in shock after each denial, with some even saying Daddy should be THEIR boss.
Over the years, Daddy would continue watching people with lighter skin and less qualified get promoted over him, even though he knew he was the superior candidate. Daddy kept on working, but even he had his limits. I won't go into details, but Daddy challenged the establishment and nearly won, but it's difficult to fight against a multi-billion dollar corporation. But he stuck to his beliefs and convictions, which is admirable. But the really sad thing is, he finally got his promotion after many, many years... but it happened only 3 months before he had his stroke. Tis life.
And being small business owners who were obviously "foreign", my parents faced many discriminatory remarks when they were present at our small businesses. I've been lucky in that I can only recall one blatantly discriminatory remark ever being thrown at me (***update: two now), and that was when I was a junior in college... so it's been a long time.
I've been fortunate to have lived in well-educated areas surrounded by very intelligent individuals during my adulthood, including Chicago, Ann Arbor and Brookline (this was true of my colleagues in Cincinnati as well, but not necessarily the population as a whole 😘)! But by reflecting on Daddy's experiences and my and my friends' experiences, I've learned it doesn't matter whether a person was born here, grew up here, had no accents, and should be considered as "American" as anyone else - our color alone continues to define us to some extremely stupid people. But when you have strong parents, that strength passes on to their children. And I have strong convictions as a result.
I will continue to strongly oppose any beliefs that choose to hate someone simply for having different beliefs or looking a certain way. And I will pass on these beliefs when I'm the Daddy to my children, and hopefully, the world will be a little less awful by then.