Growing Up Different

Growing Up Different

I am a sports fan in a family where my parents and brother have never been sports enthusiasts

I wanted to be a sportswriter, a field that is largely dominated by men.

I grew up in the Deep South, the first in my family born in the United States. My grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles immigrated to the United States from 1968-1979.

Watching George Takei talk about “being different” brought up some vivid memories for me. I remember being asked “What tribe are you?” and not understanding that there were East Indians like me, and Indians who are more politically correctly called “Native Americans” now. The best question I am still asked to this day is “What is the red dot for?” I get different responses from every person of Indian origin that I ask, so I just say, “It depends on who you ask!”

So I understand some parts of what George Takei talks about in this video – my family was never persecuted or held prisoner because of our beliefs, but I felt ashamed of my name, language, clothing because some people made fun of what they didn’t understand or know. Now, it’s cool to wear a bindi, have henna art, or do yoga. When I was young, I wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing native Indian clothing in a grocery store or restaurant. Now, I have no qualms walking into Publix on the way to a wedding to buy a wedding card for the happy couple. Different cultures, languages, food, sexual orientation are more accepted than they were just 20 years ago, and I hope that in the next few decades, a gay athlete coming out won’t be front page news, or you don’t have to preface “sportswriter” with “female”.

It wasn’t just strangers that weren’t accepting of differences. Interracial marriages are more common, but when my uncle married someone that was not Indian, my grandparents refused to attend the wedding. My parents attended because they loved my uncle, and he is part of our family. I think because of the differences that I witnessed while growing up in Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia, I have a better understanding of the world, our country, and seeing things from others’ perspectives.

The next wall that I want to break down is to be that sportswriter I dreamed of when I was 14. I wanted to be the next Lewis Grizzard. I was a skinny girl with braces and glasses, and no athletic ability whatsoever, but I could name the 1991 starting lineup for the Atlanta Braves, and the entire defense for the 1987 New Orleans Saints, The Dome Team!

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