Monday, April 16, 2007

American Idol: The South Asian Factor

I hate this show, I hate the fact that my 12 year old sister watches it and I only hate it because of the complete farce that it promotes itself to be.

None the less, I read this and couldn't help but laugh at the ananlysis:

“It's the first time somebody from our ethnic group is coming ahead of everybody,” Jayesh Patel, former president of the Federation of Indian Associations, has said. “There is a lot of enthusiasm about his coming up, and we are always watching and always praying that he will become the American Idol.”

Patel called Sanjaya, whose name means ‘victory’ in Sanskrit, “the pride of our community” and said it was a reflection of the parental support of youngsters in their chosen professions.

The Los Angeles Times has explained that that Sanjaya’s success resides in the fact that “he's such a good sport.”
Mr. Patel says “the pride of our community” and said it was a reflection of the parental support of youngsters in their chosen professions." No Mr. Patel you are quite wrong, in fact I would venture to say that you are glossing over an entire community that thrives on minimizing and diminishing individualism at that alter of complete obdience to family, tradition and money.

Please you think any decent South Asian doctor or engineer in the Silicon Valley would take Sanjaya seriously. They would mock him and use him as an example of what children who come from "classless" families behave like, making a complete mockery of themselves and their families, "what decent Indian boy would do such a thing?" they would ask themselves at dinner parties.

The fact is Sanjaya is a pride in the sense that he has put a face to the Indian community besides Apu from The Simpsons or the usual 7-11 owner. The fact is Sanjaya has shown the community as being more then an engineers or doctors, but the fact is he is a short lived oddity that will be later used as an example of what decent kids should not do.

I hope, in all sense of the word, that Sanjaya is seen as so much more. As being what Mr. Patel says he is "pride of the community" because of the "parents support in his choices"- and his parents must be supportive and must love his choices. But the fact is this doesn't translate into the broader South Asian community where getting an education is primary, however, there are literally three possibilities- engineering, medicine, and business. Parents will not accept anything short of this, becasue it means social status, economic mobility and paying off of a huge debt that children carry due to their parents sacrifices.

I know too many South Asian kids suffering under the yoke of this mentality and too many South Asian kids shunned and looked down upon for choosing a road less travelled, a career or education choice less acceptable. This is not going to change with Sanjaya, nor will this change by glossing it over as Mr. Patel has done. It will take more strong willed individuals to break this negative and destructive mold, to allow for the community to become viberant enough to allow children to dream of being something other then an engineer, a doctor or an accountant.

There is a world of oppurutnity and success is measured in differnt ways. What the South Asian community faces is no differnt that things I hear in the Muslim community. We as Americans face a drastic obstacle, one which challenges the notion of what it means to bring our two world into one, and we can no longer think in narrow feable minded ways as to limit the world of possibilities to our community- diversify, when investing diversify and I say the same when it comes to education and career choices- but parents think "diversify your kids, mine is becoming a doctor!"

Please leave your comments, I am looking foward to what other people have to say on this issue.


Marya Bangee said...

I don't agree - my parents tried to push me into medicine for about a month, then realized I was too strange and supported my career choices ever since.

Problem is, I'm not too sure what career that is, exactly. (:

NA said...

your analysis misses two factors:

1) sanjaya is only 17. his parents have plenty of time to pressure him to go to med school.

2) he's 1/2 white. so he's probably only 1/2 pressured.

anyways...american idol's a great show!

Alex said...

Hey, while searching for widgets for my blog, I stumbled upon and wow! I found what I wanted. A cool news widget. My blog is now showing latest news with title, description and images. Took just few minutes to add. Awesome!