Dear America,

I am writing to you as a young woman, a teenage Indian/American woman. In 2 months, I’ll be leaving the warmth and comfort of high school, and entering the bustling college life– the real world, some may say– which I’ve dreamt of for years. But do I want to? No. At least, I don’t think I do. Not anymore.

I’ll give you some perspective. My daily routine should go like this: I hear my seventh alarm go off, turn over in my bed, I reach for my phone and preparing myself for the day. I’m excited about going to school, excited about graduating in 2 months, excited about building my future. My routine should be full of positivity and light. But instead, it goes like this: I wake up and turn to my phone on my side table, I scroll through twitter, catching up on current events while I mentally prepare myself for the rest of the day. I am also preparing myself for yet another tragedy. Will it be down the street from my home, or will it be on the other side of the world? Maybe both.

In the past year, we entered a new wave of hate crimes. People who were our best friends, became our worst enemies because suddenly racism was okay again.

Every single day I watch my brothers and sisters have their lives taken away, and why? Because of our ethnicity, our race, simply the way we look. We are not terrorists, we are not criminals, we are not bad human beings, but some people will never understand that because they are blinded by rage and fear, instilled by old ways of thinking and past experiences.

As a young woman, I no longer feel safe in my own space. As I walk by myself I can’t help but notice people staring at me. Why? Do I look suspicious? Am I looking especially Indian today? When I voice my concerns to my peers, they’re taken lightly, why would they have to worry about a problem that isn’t theirs? To some of them, they believe I simply making it up… I’m being ‘dramatic.’ Living in Miami, a predominantly hispanic community, I’ve been exposed to covert racism, I have experienced it first hand, and I have watched the people I love, experience it a lot worse than I ever have.

You’re probably wondering why I am writing to you. Why am I writing to such a broad audience? I am writing to you because I need your help. I need your help in this battle against injustice. Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, the LGBT community, and the list goes on and on, should not have to walk the streets in fear of being shot for who they are. I shouldn’t have to sit and worry when my dad goes on trips and is ‘randomly selected’ because he looks a little different compared to everyone else. I shouldn’t have to be scared walking by myself, because one unstable person had a bad day and decided to take it out on me, because I looked “like a terrorist.”

We shouldn’t have to be afraid anymore, and that is why I am writing to you, America.


Tanvi Hathiramani