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Coppell Student Media

Business Spectacle: Lilys Hair Studio (video)
Business Spectacle: Lily's Hair Studio (video)
October 26, 2023

Un-Alienated: Embracing diversity within a community

Ahana Roy
Many people across the globe feel alienated because of their culture. The Sidekick staff designer Ahana Roy writes about why diversity is so important within a community.

My third grade teacher taught the class that people from foreign countries were called aliens. All heads in the room turned to me. “Alien” is what my classmates started to call me.

From kindergarten through fifth grade, I don’t remember a year in elementary school in which I didn’t face racism. Whether people made fun of the way I looked, the food I ate, the music I listened to, my religion, the language I spoke or enforced stereotypes on me, it was a part of my everyday life. 

Bengali and Indian cultures are both so beautiful, but I started to hate being them. I stopped bringing Indian food to school. I would be upset whenever I had to wear Indian clothes. I switched Bollywood music with Taylor Swift and I asked my parents almost every day, “Why did you name me Ahana? Couldn’t you name me something normal?” 

I felt alienated. 

“Ew, what are you eating?”

“You must be poor because India is a poor country, right?”

“Indians are so ugly.”

“You guys worship statues? That’s so funny!”

“Your skin is really exotic.”

“Why do Indians eat with their hands? That’s gross.”

“Hey, can you speak Indian?”

“India’s such a weird country.”

These are all things people have said to me in just elementary school. It was hard to like my background when all people would ever do was belittle it. Charlotte, N.C. did not have a lot of racial diversity, according to the 2010 population census, 5% of Charlotte’s population was Asian. Therefore, I was always one, if not the only, Indian kid in my class. I was always the odd one out that looked different, that had a weird name or practiced weird traditions. 

However, I didn’t have this negative perception of my culture forever. In the summer of 2021, I moved to Coppell. There were people of many different backgrounds, especially a lot of other South Asian students. Here, no one has ever made fun of my culture. In fact, I’ve seen people from other backgrounds celebrate Indian music, food and traditions. That’s something that I couldn’t even imagine would ever happen in my school in Charlotte. 

Instead of people saying my culture and beliefs are weird, they ask me what different poojas are for, if they could have a bite of the food I’m eating or compliment  me on my traditional Indian clothing. I’ve had friends celebrate Indian holidays or even make me Indian food. These moments may seem small, but they’re not things I’ve experienced before, and they did change my perception of my culture. In Coppell, I actually felt like I belonged – I’ve never felt estranged or isolated from others because of my culture. 

Today, I feel proud to be able to speak Bengali. I love to share the dishes my mom cooks for dinner, wear Indian clothes, listen to Bollywood, and to talk about South Asian history.

I learned that diversity is very important within a community. In Charlotte, people were not as open-minded, it was odd for someone to look different. So while I was a student just like everyone else, I was treated differently because of my background. 

In Coppell, since there is so much more exposure to a spectrum of ethnicities, no one sees mine as “odd” or “weird,” people are mostly open to cultures different from their own.

The difference in equity in Charlotte and Coppell is just one of many examples. Racism is normalized in places with lower diversity, where people are very quick to judge others that aren’t the same as them. Since they are not exposed to what’s not the norm, this judgment becomes a part of everyday life. As does being very ignorant towards other cultures, therefore normalizing racism.

There are people all over the world that feel isolated today because of their culture, but they shouldn’t. Many young people are desensitized to racism because it is so normalized, however internal racism can start to root within them. Children especially tend to be influenced by the thoughts and beliefs of those around them. 

It is important to have diversity so that people stop believing their beautiful cultures are “weird” or “gross.” However, many minorities aren’t living in places with racial diversity, so how can they be proud of who they are? The internet is a place that connects people across the world, as people can find content about their culture which they cannot find in person. Finding other people that practice or are interested in their culture is a great way to learn more about their own culture and the beauty of it. Finding local communities with the same culture in areas that are nearby will also help them be educated on and learn to enjoy their culture.

 It is also important for people to be culturally aware of minority groups and have an open mind. For example, instead of having an ethnocentric approach and immediately judging someone’s culture, ask them about their culture, learn about it and discuss it. Every culture is beautiful and different and we should embrace that.

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About the Contributor
Ahana Roy
Ahana Roy, Staff Designer

Ahana Roy is a sophomore at Coppell High School, and her favorite class is The Sidekick even though this is her first year both at Coppell High School and as a staffer on The Sidekick. The reason The Sidekick spiked her interest is because she wanted to have an outlet for expressing her interest in designing graphics and drawing cartoons. Ahana likes drawing cartoons and designing graphics because she finds it very relaxing and a stress reliever. They are things she wants to get better at while at The Sidekick and throughout her years at CHS. Ahana’s favorite manga is JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, which is a tangible application of the drawing that has influenced her.  Her favorite food is mutton biryani which is a delicacy in some parts of India. Ahana likes to listen to Bollywood, K-Pop, and electronic music. In her free time, Ahana loves playing video games, binge-watching television shows and reading comic books. When Ahana leaves CHS, she wants to go to the University of Texas at Austin and become a software engineer. You can reach her at @[email protected] if you have any questions or want to learn more about her!

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