Invisible Hindus In America

Invisible Hindus In America February 10, 2018

Toyota had a superbowl commercial meant to focus on interfaith goodwill, saying we are all on one team. Who did they show? Jews, Christians, Muslims, and…Buddhists.

When asked why Hindus were left out, this is what they had to say:

Their excuse is that they can’t represent everyone.

Okay, so they leave out the third largest religion in the world but do include all three Abrahamic faiths? That’s pretty weak, Toyota.

Look, I get it. We are trying to combat Islamophobia and mistreatement of ordinary Muslims. There’s a big push to see Muslims in ordinary ways in media. And there’s a lot of conversation about Muslims, both people who fear them and people who want to celebrate diversity. These days the “in” thing to do to show you value diversity is to put a woman in a hijab in your campaign or on your media. My local library has a hijabi on the cover of their brochure. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself but it’s starting to get just lazy.

I think it has reached a new level of absurdity when a hair care company casts a hijabi model for their campaign. Seriously? If you want a Muslim woman, you can still cast a Muslim woman whose hair you can see. You sell hair products. Can we see how they work? No. Or you could go for even more diversity and have a bindi-wearing woman in your campaign. Be the first to do that in America!

I got all of these on the first page of Googling “Hijabi in Ad Campaign.” I Googled “Hindu in Ad Campaign” and got none at all

In the midst of all this I feel pretty frustrated that us quiet, peaceful Hindus are just completely ignored.

Since we have never committed mass murders and terrorist attacks, there is no reputation to combat. (Have Hindus murdered? Yes. Have they committed mass murder in the name of religion? No). Many people say that “real” Muslims haven’t committed terrorist attacks, but as Sam Harris points out we can’t completely divorce Islamic extremism from mainstream Islam. They are related. The philosophies are coming from the same holy book.

I know it’s not popular to say these things as a liberal. But frankly, I feel abandoned by my fellow liberals. I feel that the eagerness to make Muslims feel welcome is hurtful to the Hindus whose history is marred by a lot of harm done by Muslims. And we don’t get to be seen, we don’t get to be accknowledged because our holy books have not been used to justify terrorism or expansionist behavior.

Harris’ analysis has been met with knee-jerk cries of racism, bigotry and the weak label “Islamophobia.” I hold the left mostly responsible for the term Islamophobia, which cleverly equates racism and xenophobia with criticism of the ideas of a specific religion — an unfair lumping together. It is a favorite tool used to silence those who link a religious ideology with negative concepts.  -

We’ve been erased from American culture and it feels like no one cares because we haven’t done anything outrageous and so no one cares about defending us. Even with yoga being enormously popular, you almost never see Indians practicing it. There is no accknowledgment of its Hindu origin. No one is paying attention to what is happening to Hindus. You can’t love yoga and turn a blind eye to Hindus.

Hindus are still being mistreated in our current world and that plight has not been in the media at all. Are we not allowed to criticize kidnapping and forced conversion?

“Hindu women are especially vulnerable facing kidnappings and rape ultimately leading to forced conversions in countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan. In several countries where Hindus are minorities, non-state actors advance a discriminatory and exclusivist agenda, often with the tacit or explicit support of the state,” Kalra added.

It is leading some Hindus to advocate for changing our peaceful ways. If you have to be violent before anyone cares to defend you, then ought we to be violent? To let go of thousands of years of tradition of peace and tolerance and kindness to all? Some feel that these philosophies cause us to get treated like doormats. It’s like the book The Mouse That Roared, where a small country whose economy is failing realizes that the U.S. helps those it defeats in war. So they declare war on the U.S. in order to lose and recieve aid. Right now some Hindus are starting to think that what it takes to get noticed and to get cared about is to have your religion associated with bloodshed and cruelty.

I will always advocate for peace. I believe in kindness and seeing divinity in others with all my heart. But, guys, we need your help too. Hindus very rarely kill in the name of religion and yet those whose religions do so often get more defense than we do. We need you to have our backs. We need you to care about protecting and defending Hindu victims. We need to be seen in America. We need to be celebrated as part of the great diversity of this nation.

Our children are growing up without a strong sense of identity. The only thing they see about Hindus outside their home is horribly racist misinformation in textbooks. They see Muslim women proud to don the hijab. They see no one but out-of-touch grannies wearing the bindi.

It can’t just be the “problem child” who gets all the attention. And if companies want to show diversity in their campaigns they need to mix it up and not just do what everyone else is doing. Get real diversity and not just one “token” Black person or hijabi.

New to this blog? Check out these posts:

What Makes Me A Hindu?

Did I Start Out Christian?

Why Am I Called “The White Hindu”?

New to Hinduism? Learn more here:

Hinduism 101: What Do Hindus Believe?

Can I Convert To Hinduism?

Your First Visit To A Hindu Temple

Super Simple Daily Puja


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