A friend's Facebook status complains about T-Mobile customer service, and the first comment makes reference to the Indians who are always on the other end of the line. The tone of the statement pings me, but the sentiment itself is not really offensive since we're all well aware that customer service is outsourced to India and sometimes the rep's English isn't very good; it's a common joke. Then, however, the guy starts talking about Bollywood's "synchronized dancing" and how it should be an Olympic sport...with gold medals for hitting the dot. This is more over the line, but the guy at least recognizes it. This is all simply the setup; if it had ended here, I would have just rolled my eyes and gone on with my life.
I ignore all those comments and respond to my friend directly: "I've had good experiences with T-Mobile customer service. They have nice humans over there." For those of you not on Facebook, I note that, unless you modify your privacy settings, your picture displays next to any comment you make.
A few minutes later, someone says this:
<--- i looking as Sunil Patel picture and wondering..."is he having an accent"? (and hopping has a sence of humor and is not pacastanie :P)...
I know that I am very lucky to be able to say that this is quite possibly the most offensive thing that has ever been said to me.
"Are you going back to your country?" is well-intentioned ignorance. "Is he having an accent?" is...I don't even have any words. (Really, I don't. My initial response to the comment is a simple "*headTARDIS*") Only my friends get to make racist jokes about me, and even they know better.
miniglik cooked up a better response for me to post:
Sunil Patel is having a sence of humor, but that is no funny.I am just aghast that someone can simply look at my picture and see my funny name and decide that I'm Not From Around Here. I have rarely felt self-conscious about being Indian. I have no problems posting pictures of myself on LJ; I have an icon of myself. I have never once worried that someone might treat me differently online because I'm Indian.
And until this week, where I was hit with two encounters in six days, I've never felt like I didn't fucking belong in this country. That I was unwanted.
Again, I know I'm lucky that I don't encounter racism on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. Besides these two incidents, I can only think of two major times in recent years that I've felt antagonized for being Indian. So it's a shock to the system that I'm not as immune as I thought. It's very eye-opening, and it reminds me that we still have a ways to go.
Which really annoys me because I liked living in my fantasy world where racism wasn't an issue.
ETA: He apologized.