You Need Not be a Coconut

 

Knowing my interest in preserving culture, a friend of mine sent me this article. I was immediately inspired to keep blogging, because well…this article sums up the very reason why I am writing this blog. So, bear with me as I tell you the premise behind this article. Keeping it short, promise.

Basically, Mindy, from The Mindy Project (ßshout out to brown actresses in Hollywood), goes on a date with an Indian man (something she doesn’t do often in the show, or err..ever?). When she is on a date with this guy, the most she can say about her Indian roots is that where her parents come from “has a river and tigers, she thinks.” Then, the guy says he can’t date a coconut. Brown on the outside, white on the inside. OHH YEAA…the show went there. For the record, the SHOW went there, yours truly did not. I stay away from such jokes, because umm…what does it mean to be white? Don’t answer that, lol. That is not what this blog is about.

Realizing she doesn’t know enough about her culture, Mindy decides to get her son’s “Mundan,” ceremony done. I will do a separate post breaking down a Mundan ceremony, but for now it’s a tradition in Hindu culture that involves getting your infant or toddler’s hair cut for the first time. She gets a priest to perform the proper ceremony. When her friends question her sudden interest and sense of urgency in performing these rituals she says, “I don’t want my son to learn about his mother’s culture from a Bombay palace menu.” “Wow, what an awesome way to sum it up,” I thought. No sarcasm, this is serious business. Indian tradition and culture is so vast, intricate and complex…I don’t think Mindy is the only brown person out there wondering how they are going to pass it on to their children. But, in order for us to pass our culture down to our children, we must learn it and live it. My (brown) friends, you need not be a coconut.

What I am saying is…it’s not extreme. It’s not black or white. You don’t need to completely assimilate into mainstream culture that you know nothing about your roots. And you don’t need to hold onto your values so tight that you don’t assimilate into your dominant geographical culture at all. Being included and fitting in is nice. So is having a sense of your individuality and the flair of a culture that is so different than the dominant. Maybe your parents assimilated into the culture and didn’t go in depth to teach you about your roots. Or maybe they were so strict that you weren’t allowed to watch certain shows, or hang out with certain friends and feel like you are now making up for it in your 20’s. Whatever the case, as millennials, we are in our 20’s. We get to decide. These are the years you create your own life and the foundation for the life you are going to pass on to your children. Act now. Get curious. Learn the meaning behind tradition, learn the Hindi, Gujarati, Arabic, etc. alphabet. Have a conversation with your parents about their childhood and what they did for fun.

Fighting to maintain your roots as you grow into your independence can be tough, especially if you aren’t living with family like me (tears), but it is so worth it. I promise.

So, my friends. You need not be a coconut.

Side Note: What is brown on the inside and brown on the outside so I can give you all a proper alternative? My nerdy self needs to be able to make such jokes. :p

Xoxo,

Priyanka

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