they call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy
Words, man. Words.
As a little girl, I loved getting ready for Indian weddings. It was one of the few occasions my mom would let me wear her red lipstick. Right before we would leave she would call me into her room and let me pick out a bindi to wear to go along with my colorful lengha. Back then I only understood bindis as pretty sparkly celebratory stickers that would eventually slide around my sweaty forehead on the dance floor.
As I grew up more and more people informed me I was not really American, I was Indian, and not just Indian, I was “dot-not-feather-Indian.” I was mocked for that dot. People would put stickers on their foreheads, chant fake prayers, roll their eyes back and bobble their heads. “Look, I am Indian too.” Their ignorant fallacy of Indians was boiled down into that dot and burned into my skin.
One halloween my Mom and older brother were sweet enough to take me trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. I wore fairy wings and my brother had a Scream mask on. I remember my brother being embarrassed my Mom was wearing traditional Indian clothes, but I didn’t understand. Why were we allowed to wear silly costumes, but my Mom was not allowed to wear her real clothes? It started to get dark out and my Mom was worried, but I begged to stay out a little longer. As we rounded a neatly trimmed cul-de-sac a group of white boys on bikes slowed down. They began shouting things at us. Then they started pelting eggs at us. My brother ran after them and they took off. Later, he explained that they had been yelling at us for being Indian. For simply being. My Mom was silent the entire walk home.
In college, my first American boyfriend told me that when his friends found out I was dot-Indian they asked if my pussy tasted like gross curry. It made my face burn red and my eyes well up as I finally came to the understanding that despite being born and raised in New York I would forever be considered a foreigner to these people. It didn’t matter if I wore clothes like them or spoke like them. I will always be a dot.
If I were the same little girl who was just excited to wear lipstick to weddings I wouldn’t care about you wearing a studded bindi to your EDM concert, but being called shitskin really changes things. I have been branded with this dot since I was born, along with every stereotype it holds. My dot is not a fad for you to wipe off when you are done with it. You cannot pick and choose with parts of my culture you will welcome into America with open arms for fashion’s sake while still barricading my family out.