I’ve never been able to talk my way out of a ticket.

I’ve never been able to talk my way out of a ticket.

Cops sense my disdain for them. I can’t help it. The ones I’ve dealt with in the South have reinforced the fact that they profile people. Plus, I’m not smooth enough to bullshit reasons for why I was speeding or why I cut off incoming cars while making a left turn.

The only time I was able to avoid a ticket was last summer when a cop was posted by Ceddy’s old place near the Highlands. The cop pulled over every person who rolled this one stop sign, in an attempt to catch drunk drivers. I hadn’t drank a drop that night, so I just got a warning.

In college, Labor Day was a cursed holiday. Every time I’d drive to Alpharetta for the long weekend (or when I’d drive back to Athens), I’d get a ticket. That year, it was a particularly stressful weekend of dealing with our parents, so Raf and I wanted to get the hell out of Alpharetta and back to Athens as soon as possible.

Once traffic slowed, Raf fell asleep. After crawling down GA-316, I maneuvered around the wreck that had caused the delay and sped up the hill past The Georgia Club. From what I could tell, I was going with the flow of traffic…until a cop’s sirens blared and lights flashed in my rearview mirror. Groaning, I pulled to the side of the road and rolled my window down. Raf jerked awake.

“Sis, what happened?”

“I got pulled over.”

“Shit. Are you gonna get a ticket?”

“Probably.”

The cop leaned onto my window.

“D’ya speak English?”

My eyebrows shot up in disbelief. “Yes.” Better than you, asshole.

“D’ya know how fast you were goin’?”

“75?”

“Nope. 83. Gonna hafta write you a speeding ticket for that. Gimme your license and registration.”

I sighed and complied.

The cop squinted at my shoes. “Are you Native American?”

“No, why?”

“You’re wearin’ moccasins.”

“They’re from Macy’s.”

“I didn’t know Native Americans sold their goods at Macy’s.”

Before I could reply, Raf coughed loudly and shot me a look. Don’t make it worse, sis!

Fine. But he’s a racist moron.

“Sorry for speeding.” I said flatly.

“Just watch it coming up that hill, next time.” The cop smiled, “Your English is great, by the way.”

“I was born in New York, but thanks.”

Because you don’t love Asian girls

When describing me,
you use adjectives like
smart, short, and cute
never
submissive, traditional, and meek.
When I’ve discussed
the fetishization
of Asian women,
you say that
those who do so
are ignorant,
which stems from
a lack of understanding.
I have an endless list
of reasons why
you’re the best,
but one is because
you don’t love Asian girls,
you love me.

Four reasons you should watch The Mindy Project

Some people have dismissed The Mindy Project as a silly romantic comedy show. While it can be, at times, it’s so much more than that. There are a million reasons why you should watch it, but I’ll give you four main ones for the sake of brevity. There’s over a month until the season two premiere, so there’s plenty of time to catch up on season one.

Four reasons you should watch The Mindy Project

1. Mindy Kaling’s titular Dr. Mindy Lahiri a badass (yet flawed and relatable) woman of color.

People of color are underrepresented in the media. Too often, a person of color’s character is shunted into a stereotypical role, so the character serves as the token supporting character in an ensemble show. Other times, that character plays as a perfect hero/heroine — a symbol of the peaceful movement to overcome oppression or the like. This isn’t the case with The Mindy Project.

Though Dr. Mindy Lahiri is a badass OB/GYN and an awesome friend, she’s also oblivious and (generally) has terrible taste in men. She drinks too much and doesn’t exercise enough. She admits that her body type ranges from “chubby” to “curvy.” She watches too much reality TV and meddles in her friends’ (and coworkers’) lives. She isn’t a flawless saint who represents every woman of color. She’s a relatable woman who makes all women feel better about not having it together 100% of the time.

2. The realistic portrayal of healthy female friendships.

One of the TV/movie tropes that I hate most is that “women are catty and can’t be friends.” While I’ve met women who demonstrate this, my female friends and I are truly like sisters. We protect and confide in each other. We don’t have secret resentments, talk shit, or plot to steal each other’s men. Though Bridesmaids attempted to be a female buddy comedy, it focused a lot of Annie and Helen’s rivalry for Lillian’s friendship. The Mindy Project doesn’t do this.

The Mindy Project portrays healthy female friendships that are like the ones I have with my friends. Mindy and Gwen are the ethnically reversed version of Andrea and me. Mindy, Gwen, and the rest of their friends actually enjoy hanging out together. They’re not passive aggressive, jealous rivals. They don’t just talk about their relationships; they help each other with legitimate problems.

3.  Mindy is half of an interracial couple throughout the show.

Some people complain that there are way too many basic-looking white guys on this show. I agree, but Mindy Kaling (and Mindy Lahiri) digs that type of guy. No one questions why a white woman who plays a lead in a show would be primarily dating white guys, so I don’t think that criticism should be leveraged against The Mindy Project, either.

I don’t think that Mindy Kaling thinks white guys are the best men; that’s just her preference. It’s refreshing to watch a show that doesn’t make this an issue. I doubt that there will be an Indian guy who will turn out to be Mindy Lahiri’s soul mate, just because he’s Indian (another trope that I hate). Still, the show addresses the difficulties that come with being in a relationship where both people are have different occupations, backgrounds, and religions.

4. *Spoiler alert* Mindy and Danny’s begrudging professional relationship that evolves into something more.

I’m a sucker for drawn-out romantic developments on TV shows. At the beginning of the show, Mindy and Danny are coworkers who are diametrically opposed in almost every way possible. After being forced to work together, they reluctantly start to respect each other. They eventually become friends and their bickering becomes affectionate.

Danny is the guy that Mindy never saw coming. They have other love interests, but their chemistry is what keeps a lot of fans (myself included) watching. It’s possible that they will turn into Jack and Liz from 30 Rock. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how their non-relationship continues to evolve next season.

Go watch The Mindy Project, already! Are there any shows that you don’t think enough people are watching?

A broken system: the perpetuity of racism, ignorance, & lack of empathy

There have been countless articulate responses to the verdict from the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case that people have posted already, but I wanted to collect my thoughts (and not repeat what many have already said) before contributing my opinion.

There aren’t words to properly express the simultaneous outrage and incredulity that I felt when Zimmerman was found not guilty of all charges. The American court system has proven to be ineffective in other cases, but this is the most recent case that showed justice doesn’t exist for everyone. There are legal and political reasons for the system being broken, but I think it comes down to the perpetuity of racism, ignorance (and harmful stereotypes), as well as a lack of empathy.

My coworkers are mostly middle-aged (or older) white men. While the trial was going on, they would make comments like:

“What if Trayvon was a thug and Zimmerman was just protecting himself?”

or,

“Trayvon sounded like he was acting suspicious and could’ve provoked Zimmerman to shoot.”

and my all-time favorite,

“I don’t think this is about race.”

There are too many white people who don’t have empathy. They’ve been insulated from prejudices and stereotypes that are inherently working against people of color. They believe that people deserve whatever their lot in life is, not that the system is designed to work against certain people. They can’t see outside their white privilege, because they don’t acknowledge that it exists.

A white young man doesn’t have to worry that if he’s wearing a hoodie and walking by himself, that he’ll get shot down by a neighborhood vigilante. He will not be pulled over by a policeman for driving “too nice” of a car. Or be followed around a store, if he’s just browsing. A white young woman wouldn’t be labeled as a hoodrat if she used slang or had long nails with intricate nail art.  A white young woman wouldn’t be presumptuously asked if she has a baby daddy. (Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” video is proof of this, but that’s another rant for another time.)

There are too many white people who don’t recognize these are things they have never dealt with, which people of color deal with everyday. The fact that Zimmerman’s attorneys tried to defame Trayvon’s character, by attempting to prove that he was a thug implies that “he deserved to be shot.” That Zimmerman was protecting himself from an eminent threat — an African-American teenage boy.

It’s not enough for people to claim that they’re not racist because they don’t use the n word. It’s not enough for people to have one token friend who’s a person of color. It’s not enough for people to be outraged at this court ruling, or others like it. People have to change their way of thinking. Neighborhoods that are mostly comprised of minority families shouldn’t be considered sketchy, just because of its residents. Poverty shouldn’t define a person’s life trajectory, nor should there be a stigma attached to one’s socioeconomic status.

This should be a wake-up call. It’s 2013 and the U.S. is still dealing with institutionalized racism. Change needs to happen.

The geography of ignorance

During the break between second and third period, Gaby and I switched our books at our lockers and walked to class together. We rarely lingered for more than a few minutes. We weren’t eager to go to English class; we avoided the guys who had the adjacent lockers as much as possible.

Unfortunately, we had no such luck that morning. The Hunters descended. Gaby knew the two Hunters from middle school, but I could never tell them apart. Their Dixie Outfitter t-shirts and camo hats made them indistinguishable.

“Mornin’ Gaby. Mornin’ Samantha.” Hunter M. tipped his frayed cap.

Politely, we replied, “Good morning.”

Hunter D. leaned on his locker, blocking our path. “Say, Gaby — do you speak Mexican?”

“I’m from Peru. I speak Spanish.” Gaby rolled her eyes.

Hunter M. asked, “Is that near Afghanistan?”

“No, it’s in South America.”

Hunter D. turned to me. “How ’bout you, Samantha — do you speak Mexican?”

“My parents are from the Philippines, so they speak Tagalog. I’m taking a Spanish class now, though.”

Hunter M.’s brow furrowed. “Is the Philippines in the Middle East, too?”

“No, it’s in southeast Asia.” I exchanged irritated looks with Gaby. “We better get to class.”

“See y’all later — we’re gonna review for our quiz.”

One would think that sixteen-year-olds could correctly guess the regions where Peru and the Philippines were located. Then again, the Hunters’ lack of knowledge illustrated why Alabama was ranked the fifth worst state for education.

Unexpected

July 24, 1991: Matawan, New Jersey

Kicking off my sneakers, I sat cross-legged beside my mother on the hospital bed.

“Sammi, this is your sister Sabrina. Your dad and I decided that we’ll call her Brie.”

“Can I hold her?”

“Just be careful.” Mom warned as Brie squirmed in her swaddle.

I cradled my newborn sister. “Hi Brie. I’m your big sister Sammi.”

My little sister wrinkled her nose.

“When you grow up, both of us can make Raf play Barbies. When you come home, I’ll read you my favorite books — I know you’ll love them, too. And we can share clothes once you’re not a baby!”

Brie promptly fell asleep.

Summer 2004: Birmingham, Alabama

“Brie, no running!”

I sprinted after my thirteen-year-old sister through the Wal-Mart toys section. Brie grabbed a large bouncy ball and galloped toward the cashiers. I caught up to and linked arms with her. Once in line, two white elderly women clucked disapprovingly behind them.

The taller woman shook her head. “It’s a shame when foreigners let their kids run wild.”

Her shorter companion nodded. “Though, it’s not their fault. Where are their parents?”

I rolled her eyes and turned to face the women. “Being brown and speaking English aren’t mutually exclusive.”

The women gasped, poised to insincerely apologize.

“Our parents are at home. My autistic sister wanted to go to Wal-Mart to get a new ball. She has the mental capacity of a toddler. Don’t even think about saying bless her heart, because people like you are full of shit.”

Brie giggled and tugged my arm. “Sammi — play ball?”

“Yes, Brie. We’ll play when we get home.”

Fall 2012: Alpharetta, Georgia

“Sammi’s room!” Brie hugged me and gestured upstairs.

Once in my room, I asked, “Brie, are you okay?”

Brie’s brow furrowed. “Yeah — Sammi’s room is fun. No Mommy.”

I stifled a laugh as we sat beside each other on my bed. Brie turned on her iPad and pulled up a photo of her with a black boy a couple of years younger.

“Who is that, Brie?”

“Dylan from Speech. He is nice and cute.”

As my little sister showed me more photos of her crush, I couldn’t help but laugh. In spite of our differences, we’re sisters. We don’t just share the same DNA; we also share the same taste in men.