It is so sad to see all of the racist comments about the newly crowned Miss America. The beautiful New York girl is indeed an American. You would never guess looking at me that I am half Pakistani, but living in this racist world, I am proud an Indian-American Won the Miss USA Pageant.
It took me a long time to accept who I was because the world is so mean and cruel and kids are more mean and more cruel. When my parents were separated for the final time, my grandmother told me to not tell anyone that my father was Pakistan. This came at the time during the Desert Storm War and given that our soldiers were fighting the Middle East and kids of Indian heritage at school were being made fun of and a few of my friends who were Indian were hurt by their taunting words, I kept quiet about my heritage, it was public knowledge, but I was half American, I guess that was ok too?? (I was already being made fun of for being overweight, why add more salt to my wounds?). Yet I feel just as guilty for not stepping up.
When I transferred high schools and started fresh my sophomore year, I remained quiet. My last name sounds Italian, so the guys thought I was this cute, new Italian girl, but it left my heart feeling empty that I felt so ashamed to openly share who I was part of and my heritage. If you want a quick lesson, there is no “J” in the Italian alphabet, the “J” sound is a “gg” sound and “ALI” is of middle-eastern decent and in Italian it is often “ELLI.” Now you have it.
Yet, I even experienced racism in my own family. After my parents divorced I wrote several letters to my father who moved back to Pakistan, those letters were never responded too. I only learned 10 years later that they most likely were thrown away by my own grandfather, he didn’t like his grandkids much, because well, we were “white.” Yes talk about being stabbed on both sides, talk about feeling hated and alone.
I didn’t like the fact I had put value on who I was based on not telling others where I was from. It bothered my heart as I yearned to feel accepted in school. It wasn’t until I went to college and told my roommate and sweetmates where my father was from and they were like, that is so cool! How neat you have such a unique background. I was like, “really?” Wow, yeah, I am pretty cool and it was from that point on I began telling my background. (Yes my other half is Italian and Greek, so I joke that I argue with myself a lot) at least I can have fun with it now.
It is so sad that racism is everywhere. Quite frankly I don’t care if you are white, black, brown, pink, green or purple, when we can begin to remove the colors that shadows our skin, we find that each and all of us has a soul. That soul has feelings. They know what it is like to feel happiness, saddness, pain, doubt, sorrow, joy, hope and love. Yet, we find it so difficult to see those good things in all humans.
Why do our hearts have to be so hard? These conflicts of hatred and insecurities squeezes our hearts from feeling love and showing love, compassion, mercy and grace to all around us. We are too busy looking for the bad and saying negative things when we need to be spending more time in finding the good and lifting up each other. This can start in our home sand how we lift up our children and spouses and be the example to live a life that is accepting of all.
Why do we follow the words of pop culture and listen to past voices? Quite frankly I rarely watch TV, I don’t care who is wearing what, what brand name this star is wearing or what Miley Cirus is doing. Let us be the salt and the light and let’s live a life different from today’s culture. Let us be more thankful instead of dwelling on guilt. Let us give ourselves more grace instead of dwelling on our mistakes. Let us use kind words that is pleasing to all instead of using our words that brings us down. Let us accept love and grace so we can show love because we are all worthy and valued and loved in this world.
Let us make the inside of our hearts our outsides and then we can begin to live a life that points towards goodness and greatness beyond ourselves.
It took sometime to find my way, to accept who I am, be comfortable in my own skin, forgive and move forward. I am proud of where I came from, the rocky road I traveled to get me to where I am today. My goal is to pass this comfort to my kids so they find their acceptance in the one Who matters most.