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"Racism and it's effect on my human identity" - Common App Essay- Personal Experience


raspberri 1 / 2  
Oct 23, 2010   #1
I can't think of how I can conclude this. General feedback would be nice, too. Thanks (:

I am an American. I eat apple pie, watch baseball, and participate in every American holiday from the 4th of July to Thanksgiving. Every morning, I stand tall, place my hand over my heart, and pledge my allegiance to the country in which I was born and raised. Yet, for a long time, many of my peers in my small, predominantly Caucasian and Mexican town did not regard me as an American. In their eyes, I was a terrorist. It was my fault that in 3rd grade, Ciera's oldest brother died when the World Trade Centers collapsed. She stopped playing with me during recess, and when I confronted her about it, she said that she wasn't allowed to play with me anymore because her mommy said I was a terrorist. This struck me as odd, because I am Indian. However, there were very few Muslims and Middle-Easterners, so I had to suffice. This treatment frustrated me so dramatically that I tried to deny my own heritage. I would fight with my parents when they would try to make me go to a temple or pooja with them, I told people to refer to me as Ri, a more racially ambiguous name, I started eating meat, I cut my hair, I refused to speak Telugu, my first language, and I tried to live and breathe America in hope that the label of 'terrorist' would no longer be thrust upon me. I began to detest my culture and everything about it- the food, the language, and everything in between.

Regardless of all the hard work on my part, I still couldn't rid myself the 'terrorist' label, the same way we were never able to completely power-wash the graffiti of "Go home, Terrorists" off of our garage door. I had transgressed from learning Bharathnatyam and listening to Bollywood music to doing ballet and listening to the Beatles, but that wasn't enough.

Two years ago, my mother forced me to go to India with her and attend my cousin's wedding. I refused to participate in any of the pre-wedding ceremonies, such as putting henna on my hands, sewing my cousin's beautiful wedding sari, and preparing food for the guests; Instead, I sat in my room and read Lolita, hoping that all of this would end soon and I could go back to my comfort zone. Then, on the day of my cousin's wedding, as I watched her wear the sari I refused to sew, the bright henna on her hands changing between shades of red as the light of the wedding fire flickered on them, I realized: I am part of a beautiful culture. I am American, and I am Indian- I didn't have to choose between them. I began to notice that people cared less about my race and more about my personality. I was no longer angry at my peers for their ignorance; Instead, I tried to sympathize with their fear. I felt sad that they didn't know the difference between Hindus and Muslims, but I felt even worse that they couldn't comprehend that not all Muslims are extremists.

I used to regret mentioning my race or religion. I had forgotten, because of the ignorance around me, that I came from a heritage rich with beautiful traditions and values. I forgot that all religions and ethnicities have stereotypes, but because I am a racial minority within the United States, the stereotypes seemed to have a particularly strong effect on me. I forgot that before this, I used to love my heritage with its rich traditions and its meaningful stories. I tried so hard to decimate my ties to my ethnicity, that by the time I realized what I had done, a part of my human identity was gone. From the moment that I made the realization that my ethnicity and race was a part of me that I could never rid myself of, I tried to reattach that part of myself back. I try to actively participate in traditional activities, such as dancing at Garba during Navaratri, telling the many stories about Diwali to the children who attend the poojas that I had once loathed, hoping that they will not make the same mistakes I did and learn to love their heritage and religion.
sandhiyar 2 / 4  
Oct 24, 2010   #2
Wow, this is a powerful essay!

to live and breathe America

I'm not sure that this part is clear. I don't understand how you can live and breathe America. I like your idea, but I think it needs more clarification.

I still couldn't rid myself OF the 'terrorist' label...

guests; Instead,

You don't have to capitalize "instead" after the semicolon.

watched her wear the sari I refused to sew

... watched her wear the sari I HAD refused to sew...

I am American, and I am Indian- I didn't have to choose between them.

That's a good idea, but it doesn't really make sense.

my ethnicity and race was a part of me

WERE a part of me

From the moment that I made the realization that my ethnicity and race was a part of me that I could never rid myself of, I tried to reattach that part of myself back.

This is confusing as well. Try clarifying what you're trying to say.

hoping that they will not make the same mistakes I did and learn to love their heritage and religion.

This is confusing as well. Although I understand what you are saying, it sounds like you hope that they will not learn to love their heritage and religion.

Just some pointers!
Good luck!
alexla 7 / 17  
Oct 24, 2010   #3
Whoa, this is well-written! For a conclusion, just do something like "I am an Indian. I x, y, and z" like you did with your intro. I think it'd be really effective! Best of luck!
OP raspberri 1 / 2  
Oct 24, 2010   #4
Thank you for all of your help!

How about this for a conclusion? It's really rough so it's probably ridden with grammatical errors and syntax issues.

When I tried to strip myself of my ethnicity, I lost the bit of my soul that made me different from everyone else. My culture had such a huge impact on my youth before 9/11, that when I tried to get rid of it, I ripped out the part of myself that influenced my thoughts, dogma, and my aspirations. I felt like the bridge I had spent the first 8 years of my life building had just been hit by an earthquake that collapsed the bridge's support system, but I realized- that's okay. I just have to rebuild from the bottom up, incorporating both the Indian and the American aspects of my life to build a sturdier bridge. It will take time, but hopefully by the time my bridge is rebuilt, it won't be just orange, white, and green, or red, white, and blue, but a beautiful hybridization of both sets that will stand strong and proud of the rest of my life.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Oct 28, 2010   #5
It was my fault that in 3rd grade, Ciera's oldest brother died during the collapse of the World Trade Centers.----I would revise this way, and actually I would not use "collapse," because it seems to downplay what really happened, which was an attack.

never able to completely power-wash the graffiti of "Go home, Terrorists" off of our garage door.----excellent writing here... very powerful, as Sandy said.

I felt sad that they didn't know the difference between Hindus and Muslims, but I felt even worse that they couldn't comprehend that not all Muslims are extremists. ---Another great sentence here.

Excellent conclusion, and thanks for teaching me the word hybridization. :-)


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