Racism Is Surging in Trump’s America, and Indian-Americans Are Feeling the Brunt of It
Less that two months into President Donald Trump’s term the U.S. has seen an alarming uptick in violent, racially motivated crimes. In just the past two weeks there have been three separate shootings believed to have been motivated by bigotry. And in these cases, it is the Indian-American community feeling the brunt of the hate.
In Olathe, Kansas, two Indian men residing in the country to work at a local technology firm – and one bystander trying to deescalate the situation – were allegedly shot at a bar and grill by 51 year old Adam W. Purinton. One of the Indian men died as a result of his wounds, the other two were hospitalized.
While the police say they can’t be certain about a motive, witnesses report that Purinton shouted “Get out of my country,” before firing.
“Witnesses told the Kansas City Star and The Washington Post that Purinton was thought to have been kicked out of the bar Wednesday night before the shooting took place,” the Washington Post reports.. “‘He seemed kind of distraught,’ Garret Bohnen, a regular at Austin’s who was there that night, told The Post in an interview. ‘He started drinking pretty fast.’ He reportedly came back into the bar and hurled racial slurs at the two Indian men, including comments that suggested he thought they were of Middle Eastern descent.”
“Go back to your own country” appears to be a popular refrain before a racist shoots someone. In Washington state, a Sikh man doing car repairs in his driveway was shot in the arm by a man with a mask covering half his face.
“The victim, a 39-year-old Sikh man, was working on his vehicle in his driveway in Kent’s East Hill neighborhood about 8 p.m. Friday when he was approached by an unknown man, Kent police said, after talking with the victim,” reports the Seattle Times. “An altercation followed, with the victim saying the suspect made statements to the effect of ‘Go back to your own country.’ The victim was shot in the arm.”
While the Washington man’s injuries weren’t life threatening, 43- year old Harnish Patel was not so lucky. Patel, an owner of a convenient store in Pennsylvania, was shot once he got home from a late shift. He did not survive. While the police aren’t sure about any motive, or whether the attack was racially based, the Indian-American community is growing rightfully alarmed.
“A wave of anxiety is also sweeping through the countless families of Indian engineers working in the country. The group is under fire not only because of its immigrant status (Kuchibhotla was asked what visa he was on before being shot), but also because its members are accused of taking away jobs from US citizens,” Quartz reports. “For instance, an August 2016 video of a suburban Ohio park, shot by anti-immigrant website SaveAmericanITJobs.org, is causing unease. ‘Our walk in the park provides evidence as to who has (sic) the Jobs in this area, and they are not the citizens of Ohio,” the video’s YouTube description reads. ‘It is proof on the ground how guest workers are not only taking over jobs, but also taking away the real estate and parks. The USA Ohio IT Workers have disappeared to oblivion.’”
Indian Americans are facing the double-edged sword of being targeted both by those who only see them as brown and foreign, so potentially Muslim, or those who do understand who they are and feel that they are a threat to their economic livelihood. It’s no wonder that many immigrants are considering avoiding the U.S. in the first place, or heading back to India if they are already here. Others, however, want to stay and fight President Trump, saying they won’t let him bring the rest of the U.S. down.
“America is not just becoming dangerous for Indians, it is becoming dangerous for all people of colour. However, the society works as a pendulum and there is still hope of things working out for the better,” recent graduate Aditi Bhowmick told IBT India. “Racism has always been an aspect of society America has been grappling with. I’m not going to let Trump or anyone mess with my future plans.”
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