IRIN MANNAM
June 17, 2017
DAVID YUEN TAM
June 17, 2017

RITUPARNA “RITU” ROY

“Though I have a lot of identities that are marginalized in America even outside of an ‘immigrant’ context, I still try to use my privilege of being a lighter skinned, South Asian woman who is not a hijabi, with multiple degrees and fancy letters after her name, to advocate for those around me. With that privilege, I also think it is important to share our multi-faceted stories and celebrate our resilience where we have experienced struggle.

I am someone that searches for genuine connections. I want to hear others’ stories and learn how to be more compassionate and more civically engaged through our shared experiences of humanity. I believe I am a “model success story’ because of the people I have crossed paths with and who believed in me, nurtured me with their time, wisdom, money, and love who remain my constant cheerleaders. I was raised in a family where humility, honesty, morality, and actions not words were seen as a true testament of someone’s worth regardless of their socio-economics or standing in life. This, in a culture where, though illegal, caste/religion guides many a person’s access to opportunities, I think was a radical thing my family taught me. As someone that has learnt to be a better person not only because of the mistakes I’ve made, but because of

the people & environments that allowed me to make them. They held me accountable to

humbly own up to my shortcomings and grow into the type of sassy, caring, hopefully generous and dependable person who gives back to her community that I ideally want to be. These are values I see reflected among marginalized communities and among other immigrants who, in this country, regardless of our cultural backgrounds, are rooting for us all to succeed because they know deeply the ramifications of not being that ‘model success story.’

With that, I think it is very important to mention my personal history of mental health. As is common with media narratives of why immigrants are so valuable to USA, when we focus on our resilience, our morals and our work ethic, we often don’t talk about the price it comes at. I have also experienced violence, but the trauma around that is negligible compared to the fear and anxiety I had (and still do to a lesser extent) around failing or disappointing all the people that have invested in me by not being a “successful immigrant” the concept of which is already pretty problematic. My work ethic comes from knowing that my cushy life in America where I am accepted in all my many identities solely exists because of my current 3-year work visa. And even then I’m not granted a visa renewal or even the opportunity for a green card if the United States ormy employers don’t consider me “good enough” to sponsor for permanent residency. So I do everything in my power to excel and be the best and do more than any one person really can do well (and therefore I do drop the ball) not the healthiest lifestyle just so that people who probably care more about profit margins can deem me, a human, an irreplaceable asset that will continue to be a valuable return on investment.”

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