WE GET THE JOB DONE
My family comes from a part of India where your
occupation defines you. Your occupation marks
your name and your status in life. It is your blessing
and your curse. In India, my family made up the
working class: the tailors who would make your
clothes, make your upholstery and help with your
furniture. There were, and still are, times that my
family has not gotten paid and was not treated fairly,
based on our named status in life. When my mom and her siblings
were growing up, my grandfather gave them a different last name
in the hopes it would increase their chances of having a better life.
That better life came when my family got the opportunity to come
Coming to America afforded my family opportunities that we
would not have been able to achieve at home. We could be something
beyond our name here. However, things looked different for other
reasons. We were different here because we looked different. Despite
hard work and determination in running our own business, any angry
or frustrated person would hurl at my parents: “Go back to your
own country!” The other motel businesses in Bowling Green would
mark on their signs “American-Owned” to differentiate themselves.
Fast forward to today, as more individuals who look like me
have become commonplace in technology, business and as health
care workers in our community. The conversation changed. The
new questions involve, “Where are you really from?”
My mom is a citizen, and even today she will say, “They let us
into their country” because she still feels like “the other.” In the
words of my favorite musical, Hamilton, “Immigrants, we get the
job done.” As Indian-Americans, we have been able to forge a new
way but only because we have been successful and proven ourselves.
We have the ability to look past the last 50 years of being made to
feel like “the other.” We did not have to tackle 400 years of being
considered “other” or being considered “less than” and the inherent
biases that have been produced from that.
These conversations that we need to have to address systemic
racism are not comfortable. They are not easy. But they are necessary.
We must challenge ourselves to be empathetic, to see a situation
from someone else’s perspective. This is a time for learning and
listening so that individuals who do not look like you do not feel
like “the other,” instead, like a sister or brother.
Dr. Tailor is an internal medicine physician at Norton Community Medical Associates:
Americans, we have
been able to forge a
new way, but only
because we have
been successful and
4 LOUISVILLE MEDICINE