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Growing up "Asian-Indian" in the United States

My dad immigrated to the United States from Gujarat in northwest India.  He was born in Gujarat to a comparatively wealthy family by Indian standards.  As a student, he excelled in the sciences.  Eventually he became accepted into the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi where he got his B.S. in electrical engineering.  Due to his B.S. degree, he was able to immigrate to the United States of America under the H-1B visa.

My mom immigrated to the United States at the behest of my dad.  My dad, successful as he was, was able to return to Gujarat to find a nice homemaker.  My paternal grandparents arranged a marriage with my maternal grandparents.  This was the way my mom became part of the Surti family.

Awakening of an Asian race conscienceness

Where I grew up there few other Indians, so it was hard being different from my peers.  I was taunted as being a "Mexican" by whites while in grade school.  They mentally abused me by calling me names and telling me to go back to Mexico.  For a long time, I accepted the grouping that others gave me as a Mexican.  I said I identified as a "brown" girl, because I wanted to be fully accepted by Mexicans.  As I matured, I learned that my race was Asian and that I was not a Mexican.

After my realization that I was Asian, I tried to establish myself as an Asian girl.  At my school, there were East Asian exclusive cliques where I was not welcome.  I didn't try to be absorbed by that clan.  There was, however,  a pan-Asian organization where I felt welcome.  I believe that they considered me to be invaluable for their image as I was the only Indian member.  I eventually realized that I could not be passive about my racial identity.  I had to correct people who said Indians are not Asian.

This website was published by Nikki Surti in 2008.