Take a look at this kid, senator. Take a very good look at him. Now imagine him in civilian clothes. Imagine he is standing in an all-white audience, with a camera in his hands, videotaping your speech. You spot him. What would you do? You would point him out to the crowd and call him "macaca". You would say to him, "Welcome to America". Yes, you would not see him as "one of yours". Why?
Because that kid, Army spc. Uday Singh, was born to Indian parents in Lake Forest, Illinois and he is dark skinned. No, he was. He was assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 34th Armored Regiment, 1st Infantry Division of Fort Riley, Kansas. On Dec 1st 2003, he was killed in an attack in Habbaniyah, Iraq. He was 21 years old. Sgt Singh was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. This "macaca", who was born in the USA, who served in the US Army, who died for this country, is every bit as American as you are. Perhaps even more of a patriot than you are. But to you, all that matters is his skin color. And you would refer to him by a label that describes a genus of asian monkeys.
Now take a look at this senator. Do you know what it is? It is the most sophisticated space-based X-ray observatory ever built. NASA named this space telescope "Chandra". Do you know why?
To honor the memory of this man, Prof. S. Chandrasekhar, a legendary Indian-American scientist, a Nobel laureate physicist, a man who devoted his life to studying stars and galaxies and to solving some of the most intractable problems in physics, a man who laid the foundations of modern astrophysics, who came to the United States in the 1930s and spent the next 60 years of his life in pursuit of scientific knowledge, in teaching Americans and in training them to do research. Many of his students have gone on to win the Nobel prize in physics.
What do you see when you look at this picture of him, senator? Do you see a "darkie"? In the 1940s, Enrico Fermi recruited him to work on the Manhattan project to make use of his theoretical skills in designing the first atomic bomb. When Chandra went to Los Alamos and tried to enter the compound on his first day of work, a military guard shouted "Darkie, step aside". He made Chandra wait while he let all the white folks in. His supervisors then made several phone calls and learned to their utter astonishment that this "darkie" was indeed a nuclear physicist. Then they let him in.
If you see a young Dr. Chandrasekhar in your all-white audience, would you point him out and say, "Darkie, Welcome to America"? Perhaps not. But you would invent a cutesy new racial slur like "macaca".
Senator, did you know that Indians have lived and worked and died in the Unites States since 1790? Yes, that is 1790, not 1970. We have been in this country for more than 200 years. When you mockingly "welcomed" macaca to America, we know you were telling us that despite this 200-year heritage we are merely "guests" in this country. You were telling us that this is "your" country, not ours. You were telling us that this is not really were we belong. You were reminding us that you and your all-white audience "own" this country. You were sending a message to your all-white audience that you had "power" over us, that you have magnanimously "chosen" to allow us to live in this country even though you could have chosen to do otherwise.
Sen. Allen, that is a throw back to the 1920s when the Asiatic Exclusion League spread xenophobia and racial hatred in the form of The Yellow peril, The Turban Tide and The Hindoo Invasion. In the America of you and your ilk, nothing has changed since 1917. That was the year the Barred Zone Act was passed prohibiting Chinese and Indians from becoming US citizens. It doesn't matter to you that in all these intervening years we suffered long, hard struggles to overcome the racism fanned by the Asiatic Exclusion League and to overcome the exclusionism instituted in the form of the Alien Land act that prohibited us from owning a piece of land in this country.
Take a long, hard look at this man, Senator. Do you know who he is? This is Dr. Dalip Singh Saund. Dr. Saund was born to poor peasants in Punjab, India. He came to the US to study Agriculture and to specialize in canning techniques. But at the University of California at Berkeley where he enrolled, professors recognized his talent for math and encouraged him to join the Department of Mathematics. He graduated with a master's degree and a doctorate in Math in 1924. But in 1923, the US supreme court had ruled that Asian Indians are not of the caucasian race, unleashing a new wave of racial tensions. Faced with prejudice, Dr. Saund, a doctorate in math, returned to farming.
For the next 30 years he was a farmer in California. Fed up with the hardship faced by California farmers, he decided to fight for their rights. He ran for and was elected judge to Imperial county, CA in 1952. And in 1956 he was elected to the congress. That is right senator. We, Indian-Americans, to whom your prejudice dictated you to say "Welcome to America" in 2006 have legislated the laws of this land since 1956.
Does it blow your mind to know that the people you presumed are only "foreigners" in this land - the people you mockingly "welcomed" to this country - are not any more of a guest in this land than you are? That they have contributed to this nation's growth in many, many more ways than you can possibly imagine? When you called one Indian-American "macaca" because of his skin color, you deemed every Indian-American a asiatic monkey. Here are some others who would've stood out in that crowd and whom you would have called "macaca".
This is Dr. Gobind Khorana, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Biology and Chemistry at MIT. He was awarded the Nobel prize in Physiology/Medicine in 1968 for breakthroughs in understanding the genetic code. He was also the first to synthesize oligonucleotides opening new avenues for genetic engineering and biotechnology. You called him "macaca".
This is Dr. Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate economist, Professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard. You called him "macaca".
This is Laxmi Mittal, the third richest man in the world after Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. He donated $2 million to the Bush-Clinton Tsunami Recovery and Relief Fund. You called him "macaca".
|This is Vinod Khosla, the co-founder of Sun microsystems and a venture capitalist investing in this country's future by stimulating research and development of alternative energy sources. You called him "macaca".|
This is Prof C. R. Rao, one of the greatest living statisticians, Eberly professor of statistics at Penn State University. He is one of a very small fraction of American scientists to have been awarded the National Medal of Science, to have been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Great Britain and one of only 19 Life fellows of King's college, London. He has been awarded 19 honorary doctorates. His name has been immortalized in science through the Rao-Blackwell theorem, the Cramer-Rao inequality, the Rao score test, the Rao distance and Rao's orthogonal arrays. You called him "macaca".
|This is Indra Nooyi, the President and CEO of PepsiCo. You called her "macaca".|
This is Dr. Amar Bose, the founder-owner of Bose Corporation. They make damn good audio-video systems. You called him "macaca".
|This guy writes damn good books and fights religious extremism. He lives in Manhattan. You called him "macaca".|
This guy makes damn good movies (but I will refund you your $20 if you saw his last 2 movies). You called him "macaca".
This guy started a whole new personal internets thing with some hot mails flowing through a series of toobs (ask your fellow republican senator, The Honorable Mr. Ted Stevens for an explanation). You called him "macaca".
|This slightly misguided young man has some weird political beliefs. But we respect him for his achievements anyway. You called him "macaca".|
I could go on and on and on and on.
I ask again, senator: Does it blow your mind to know that the people you presumed are only "foreigners" in this land - the people you mockingly "welcomed" to this country - are not any more of a guest in this land than you are? That they have contributed to this nation's growth in many, many more ways than you can possibly imagine?
So, I say to you: Sen. George Felix Allen, Welcome to America.
Senator, Welcome to MY America where people of your ilk continue to benefit from the labor of the "colored people" and yet continue to trample on their dignity, continue to grind their rights into the ground, continue to demonize them, label them with racial slurs, exclude them from opportunities and keep them in "their place".
Senator, Welcome to MY America where every attempt by your ilk to break the spirit of the minority has miserably failed.
Senator, Welcome to MY America where not all Indians are New York city cab drivers or motel owners or Seven-Eleven cashiers. Where not all chinese-Americans run chinese take-out joints and not all Indian-Americans run Dunkin Donuts and subways.
Senator, Welcome to MY America where indians, who were not allowed to own land only some 50 years back now have a median income that is almost twice that of the national average and 1 in every 10 among them is a millionaire.
Senator, Welcome to MY America where 1 in every 3 faculty member in engineering departments across the US is an Asian-American and 1 in every 40 Indian-American is a doctor.
Senator, we made America as much as America made us. We are America as much as America is us.
Sen George Felix Allen, welcome to 21st century America.