I recently shared an article about Nikki Haley (who I have since learned is the US Ambassador to the UN. Yes, I didn’t know that. I’m ashamed) and whether she claims to be white or changes back and forth about being white or Indian. I don’t know whether the article is accurate but I thought it brought up some interesting questions, particularly around how long we are supposed to identify with the ethnic identities of our ancestors. But anyway, that is not what this post is about.
One commenter said everyone here is following someone who is a “proud white Hindu.”
That startled me. Am I a proud white Hindu? I’m proud to be a Hindu. I’m proud that I have found the path that works for me and leads me ever closer to peace, bliss, and Truth. I’m proud of everything Hinduism has to offer the world.
But I’m not proud to be white.
Whiteness is not a thing to be proud of or ashamed of. It’s not a value judgement. It’s a category that I happen to fit in based on my skin tone and my ethnic heritage in my current society. It’s a factual statement and not about better or worse.
This is a misunderstanding I have been trying to clear up since the blog first started eight years ago. Over these years I have learned that many people do seem to attach a value judgement to whiteness. Some people think white people are better (this is so horrifying but in the age of Trump one cannot deny that some people think this), some people think paler skin equates with virtue and beauty, some people think whiteness is bad because white people were colonizers, some people are afraid that Indians have been so brainwashed by white colonizers that they take a white person more seriously. So much baggage connected to the color of one’s skin.
When I say I am a white Hindu, I mean none of that. People seem to assume I’m trying to say I’m better in some way. What I actually mean and what I have always meant is that my ethnic background is different from the majority of people in my religion and that leads me to have experiences, thoughts, and questions that native Indian Hindus might not. Hence I write about Hinduism primarily from the perspective of culture and community.
In some ways I do regret that I named my blog as I did. On the other hand, it certainly draws attention. And it’s easy to find me. If you tell someone to look up “white Hindu” they are certain to find me. It gets people worked up. I did not expect that when I first named this blog. But it’s been eight years and I feel that this is my blog’s identity and this is what it will stay. How would you know it was me if I wrote under a different title? And so I will have to continue to field questions every day about why I’m making this about race, why I’m being racist, why I’m setting myself apart from other Hindus. I do not believe that I am doing any of those things but it certainly highlights something about our cultures and lives that using an accurate descriptor of my skin tone can cause such unrest.
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