Basically, let’s talk about race and class. Let’s stop buying into this narrative that our families all got here because we ‘worked hard and made it to the America’. Especially since those of us who came to the US in that first wave of professional South Asian (largely Indian) immigrants largely benefited from our caste and class positions in South Asia. Our families had access to the education and capital it took to enter those professional spheres. This is not to erase the struggle and pain of immigration, but to recognize that our experience of ‘desi-ness’ is often very, very different from that of working-class, Dalit, and indigenous people.
Let’s quit talking about our homelands like we know everything there is to know. It’s easy isn’t it? White people in particular will take our word as native informants. (‘Oh tell me more, what’s it like there?’). Our goal here is not to enable White gurls who want to do unpaid internships in Kolkatta or write the next Eat Pray Love. We have strange privileges as diasporic peoples to speak for countries we do not live in—cut it out.
We each need to do the work of recognizing for ourselves what we do or do not know about our countries of origin. The more distance we get (in geography, class, Western socialization), the less we probably get it—‘it’ being conditions on the ground for working-class and other oppressed peoples. We also need to do the work of reading and listening to the experiences of the very same, and understanding that our knowledge will always be incomplete and secondhand.