Context by Default

Mehek. 20. Graduating college this year. I have opinions and they're all here, so read.

I'm an Indian American Immigrant(First Gen), and a Cisgender Lesbian trying to re-connect with Hinduism and learn Hindi.

I like books, video games, writing and politics.
Find me on the internet at:
mehekwrites.wordpress.com
makeupbymehek.wordpress.com
videshimagazine.com

Eyeliner game: on point

Life Game: Falling apart???

You have this one life. How do you wanna spend it? Apologizing? Regretting? Questioning? Hating yourself? Dieting? Running after people who don’t see you? Be brave. Believe in yourself. Do what feels good. Take risks. You have this one life. Make yourself proud.
Beardsley Jones: Make yourself proud (via creatingaquietmind)

(via kceyagi)

markkraken:

Chandelure

(via cassadiller)

Try instituting weekly or monthly relationship check-ins. Take 15 minutes - perhaps over coffee or before dinner - to check in with your partner(s).

What does a check-in look like? At the beginning of a relationship, it might be an hour-long discussion. Weekly check-ins over time, however, can be as short as 5-10 minutes.

A sample check-in:
- How are you feeling about us right now?
- Are you worried about anything?
- We’ve been talking about _____ issue over the last few weeks. How are you feeling about that now?
- Anything you want to bring up?

virare:

the best part about being in your 20’s is slowly caring less and less about what people think of you and surrounding yourself with good people

the worst is that I’m broke

(via isobelaspark)

youngblackandvegan:

i do not chase people

i do not chase men, and i do not chase friends

hell, i don’t even chase family

i’m here, and i’m important

i’m not running after people to prove that i matter

(via kceyagi)

strivingking:

If you’re in college right now

Check the syllabus for each one of your classes right now while you bullshittin

Don’t fall behind this early in the semester off some bullshit

(via mysoulhasgrowndeep-liketherivers)

kceyagi:

creepyold-kit-hands:

coelasquid:

throughthewildblue:

You cannot buy electronics with food stamps. You cannot buy cigarettes with food stamps. You cannot buy pet food with food stamps. You cannot withdraw money with an EBT card (food stamps).

Do you know what else you can’t buy with food stamps? Shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, tinfoil, plastic sandwich bags, toothpaste, cleaning products, tampons, pads, over the counter medications (such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.), and anything else you can think of that you cannot physically ingest for nutritional purposes.

Do you know what you can buy with food stamps? Food.

Do you know what it’s like to scrounge for change to buy non-edible necessities, use a credit card and EBT card (food stamps) during the same transaction, and then have the person in line behind you judge you for buying the ingredients to make a birthday cake?

People who disseminate false information about food stamps have never had to use food stamps.

Okay, but let’s talk for a second about how that one lady called turkey “big chicken”

You can’t even buy all food with food stamps. You just… you flat-out can’t buy “food that will be eaten in the store/any food sold for on-premises consumption” or any “hot foods” with food stamps—meaning you can’t buy anything hot, you can’t buy anything that gets blended together, you can’t buy anything “pre-prepared,” in most cases you can’t use your EBT card at restaurants. You literally CANNOT purchase a milkshake with food stamps, because it’s considered “sold for on-premises consumption” (which was ridiculous at the place I worked, because the customer had to mix their own milkshake themself with a little machine we provided them, and several people got upset—rightfully so, I think—that it wasn’t covered under food stamps, because they often only found out at the register after already mixing it, often as a treat for their kids). You literally can’t walk into a gas station, grab one of those hot dogs off their grills/out of the little heated food area, and buy it with food stamps, because it’s hot.

And when I say “can’t,” I don’t mean “if the cashier notices you trying and cares enough to stop you, they’ll refuse to do it for you.” I mean “it is actually impossible to do this.” I’m not even sure these people who disseminate false information about food stamps have paid any attention at all when buying things at the store, because what happens is: We scan in the customer’s items, into our computer. The computer has specific codes for the items and rules for what it will let you pay for things with. We scan the customer’s EBT card, and it tells us exactly how much of that price total can be paid for via EBT, and it will not include anything that isn’t food, and it will not include anything considered “pre-prepared” food. It does this automatically AND THERE IS NO OVERRIDE FOR IT. If our machines say that you can’t use the EBT card to pay for something, there is literally nothing we can do to change that, even if we WANTED to.

So no. You can’t buy iPads or cigarettes with food stamps. You can’t withdraw money from casinos or anywhere else with food stamps. You can’t buy dog food with food stamps; sometimes you can’t even buy people food with food stamps. I’m not even sure if you can buy “the big chicken legs” at Disney with food stamps; remember, you can’t buy “any food sold for on-premises consumption” OR any hot foods, and that’s both.

Literally the only thing these fearmongers listed that you can actually purchase with food stamps even if you are in goddamn cahoots with the evil liberal cashier or store manager is soda, and the judgement against people buying that with food stamps is classist fuckwittery at its finest.

So, as always, Fox News is actually flat-out lying, and hateful conservatives both don’t know what they’re talking about and don’t give a fuck about people going through shit that they will never have to go through themselves, and that they in fact don’t have even the tiniest clue about (not even via five seconds’ research; a list of things that can’t be purchased with food stamps is on the Food and Nutrition Services website) but still think they should spout off about to their TV audience anyway.

As someone who worked at a grocery store for six years and handling transactions with people who used EBT food stamps, I can confirm the above. Customers always separated their foods and non-food items when paying for their groceries because of the strict requirements for what counted as “food.” 

I don’t now about other states, but in Massachusetts, some people have EBT cash. This is completely separate from EBT food stamps. Some customers who maxed out their funds on EBT food stamps would pay the rest with funds from their EBT cash fund if they had that option. 

acacophony:

iwriteaboutfeminism:

Police continue to make arrests at Ferguson protest.

Part 4.

Take note: The moment people stopped reblogging and tweeting and writing news articles and calling attention to Ferguson, they brought back the armored cars. It is not over. They were waiting for the world to lose interest and knew it would.

(via strawbeary-boy)

humansofnewyork:

"I don’t have any dreams. What’s the point? I’m poor. I don’t have any skills. I wash the utensils in the kitchen— that’s what I do. But I like the girls I work with. We make fun together. I tell jokes. They tell jokes. I’m happy— it’s in my nature."

(New Delhi, India)

Actually one of the saddest things I’ve read, ngl

the1paradox:

I tell this to everybody

(via vivalamas)

cacatuasulphureacitrinocristata:

lolsomeone-actually:

CHARACTER DEVELOPEMENT

And you know the best thing about this movie is they could have made Felix be the nice guy, be the understanding guy, the only guy who’s kind to Ralph, but they make him just as prejudiced as the other game characters. He wasn’t mean to Ralph per say, but he wasn’t nice either, and definitely didn’t want to get involved with the trouble that followed Ralph around.

It’s only after Felix gets treated badly himself that he starts looking at how Ralph is treated by others, how Ralph is treated by him and changes his attitude.

Because that’s the thing, you don’t have to be the bad guy to be prejudiced. Sometimes you can be the nice guy who doesn’t do anything for or against, and sometimes that’s just as bad.

This movie. Ugh.

(via strawbeary-boy)

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hi! I'm sorry to bother, but I have a question. I have a friend who looks white (blonde, light skin, green eyes) but was actually born and raised in India by her Hindu parents. She practices Hinduism and only recently moved to the states. She still wears traditional clothing, but the other day she posted a picture of herself in her traditional clothes and got a lot of hate for it, people saying it was cultural appropriation. She's bummed out about it and is now questioning her ethnicity. Help?
unassuminglighthouse unassuminglighthouse Said:

youarenotdesi:

pendere:

stirringwind:

1. All those people screaming cultural appropriation at her are ignoramuses who are basically saying, “Wow, you don’t look like my ill-informed, narrow-minded stereotype of what people from this region actually look like!” and “I actually subscribe to horrible, reductionist stereotypes that Indian people can only have dark hair, skin and eyes. Light hair? Green eyes? European (origin) only!” 

This is gonna be a tad long, because it’s gonna delve into biology and history- and it’s because I hope people realise how artificial the US paradigm of race is. It’s woefully incompetent at understanding the biological diversity of our species because it is a social construct. Modern scientists and historians generally refuse to categorise people on the amount of melanin they have because it’s just reductionist and oversimplistic- what they do is classify people by their geographic origin, linguistic and cultural ties. 

2. India is an EXTREMELY diverse continent. It’s so genetically diverse that the only place more genetically diverse is the African continent, aka, the birthplace of humanity. And this is a big deal. I’ll explain why.

image

Surprise! People inhabiting an extremely large country that has more than 2000 ethnic groups, members of all the world’s religions, been the site of multiple ancient civilisations, been on the major crossroads of human migration and trade for thousands of years come in multiple colours!

  • Presently, the most widely-accepted theory of our origins is the Recent African Origin, or Out of Africa TheoryThis holds that originally, humans first appeared in Africa, thus all of us have African ancestors. All modern non-Africans are descended from much smaller groups of people who migrated out of Africa, anytime from 65,000 to 125,000 years ago. How do scientists know this? By looking at our DNA, in addition to fossil and archaeological records. They discovered that the differences in the DNA of non-African peoples like say, a German a Japanese and a New Zealand Maori was far less than the genetic differences between people from different African ethnic groups. (Somali, Dinka, Yoruba, San, Kikuyu, Luo etc- I’m BARELY scratching the surface)
  • What this meant was that Africa had to be the original, diverse genetic pool where modern humans first appeared. Everybody else outside of Africa today is descended from much smaller groups of people who left Africa at various times- and that ancestral genetic “bottleneck” is why people who appear to have very different heritage (e.g European vs East Asian) actually have far less genetic variation than the various African peoples.
  • So, India being the second most genetically diverse place on this planet is a big deal- it’s basically second only to THE CRADLE OF HUMANITY. That’s why I’m pretty convinced your friend can have blonde hair and green eyes and still be 100% Made in India.

3. Now, the genetics of India itself.

Genetic studies have shown that if you take a modern Indian from any part of India, no matter how dark or fair they are, his or her lineage will consist of mixing from two main ancestral groups. One is the Ancestral Northern Indians (ANI), and the other the Ancestral Southern Indians (ASI). You may have heard of the ancient Indian caste system which put a lot of social pressure that prohibited marrying outside your caste. Caste discrimination is banned today, but old attitudes do persist. However, even this caste rigidity wasn’t so 4000- 2000 years ago. ANI people married ASI pretty freely, so that’s why every modern Indian has heredity from both groups. So, already to start off, you got quite a fair bit of diversity hidden in people’s genes. 

  • And the next interesting part to explain why it IS possible for Indians to have features stereotyped as “European” is because while the ASI seemed to be genetically unique to the Indian subcontinent, the ANI people are genetically related to Middle-Easterns, Europeans and Caucasians (and I mean this not in the sense of “white” as often used in the US, but the actual region of Caucasus, which borders Europe and Asia).
  • You mentioned she looks “white”- and the American-understanding of “white” being hurled at her by those people screaming cultural appropriation are actually ignorantly treating “white” as synonymous with “European-origin”. In reality, it’s completely useless in the realm of biology. Biologically, there is actually no real dichotomy where “European” suddenly ends and “Asia” begins. 

image

  • As I earlier pointed out, well, we’re all kinda related. And it’s not at all earth-shattering that some people from India look like they’re of “European-origin”. Because modern Europeans, Central Asians and the Ancestral Northern Indians are all believed to be descendants of a group of people called the Proto-Indo-Europeans. It’s believed they lived around 6000-7000 years ago. Some modern people that are descended from the Proto-Indo-Europeans are French, Germans, Iranians and Pashtuns (a major ethnic group in Afghanistan).  It’s even been found that Europeans and Indians shared a gene for fair skin from a common ancestor- which is why there ARE people who look like your friend. Naturally, fair skin is just relatively rarer in India vs Europe because more parts of India are located in hotter regions. Therefore, there’s more selection pressure for darker skin which has more melanin to protect from the sun- making fair skin rarer, but still possible. 

image

(This is a map of the Kurgan Hypothesis, which is currently the most popular theory for how the Proto-Indo-Europeans migrated from their homeland to settle Europe, Central Asia, Iran, India and Turkey etc)

  • Saying Indians are descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans is NOT the same as saying they’re of “European origin”. For example, think of the Proto-Indo-Europeans as like the “mother” of Europeans, Central Asians and the Ancestral Northern Indians- they’re like “sibling” groups, not descendants. The original Indo-Europeans were not “European” in the modern sense. I am clarifying this because plenty of colonial-era scientific racism tried to attribute ancient India’s achievements to “European who left Europe for India”- you might have heard the phrase “Aryan” thrown around in Nazi Germany, which was used to mean “blonde hair, blue eyes”. Nazi scientists and historians also abused it to explain away the sophistication of non-European civilisations in Ancient Egypt and India. In reality, ”Aryan” is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word “Arya" which means "noble". Sanskrit is an ancient language still used in classical Indian texts, and is of Proto-Indo-European origin. For example, the name of the country “Iran” actually means “land of the Aryans”- it was the names ancient Iranians (another people descended from the Proto-Indo-Europeans) gave to what others called the Persian Empire for more than a thousand years before the Third Reich. 

image(Sanskrit manuscript)

  • Furthermore, many languages we often separate as “European” and “Asian” like German, English, French, Italian vs. Hindi, Farsi (Persian), Gujarati, Punjabi, Pashto, Sanskrit etc are ALL classified by linguists as belonging to the same Indo-European language family- which all evolved from the original language the Proto-Indo-Europeans spoke. See how artificial the Europe/Asia dichotomy really is, in terms of human genetics and origin of cultures? 

4. Finally- there’s plenty of modern proof that the region we call Europe today does NOT have a monopoly on producing people with blonde hair, fair skin and green eyes.

This is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, a popular Indian Bollywood actress who is also known for her striking blue-green eyes. She’s 100% Indian- she was born in Mangalore, India to Indian parents. 

image

This is a couple at their wedding- the lady on the left is Indian, from the Southern Indian city of Hyderabad. Her husband is Ethiopian.image

This is a photo of a boy and a woman who is likely his mother, taken in Turkey.

image

This is a girl from Darfur, Sudan- an area that has more than 30 ethnic groups.

image

This is a Nuristani girl. The Nuristani people are an ethnic group from Afghanistan. 

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5. And in the first place, what makes up a person’s identity IS NOT JUST HOW MUCH or HOW LITTLE MELANIN THEY HAVE.

  • Tell your friend she is 100% Indian, because what makes up her identity is not just how she looks. Identity is what feels most natural to her, and if that identity is indeed very intertwined with major aspects of Indian culture- then well, she IS Indian and noone can say otherwise. 
  • Those people had no right to make her feel awful and “not-Indian enough” because it’s clear she identifies as such due to actually being born there and also practising major aspects of Indian culture. The best example I can think of to explain this is how in the US, people sometimes use the term “Latino” as a race category, with the stereotype that all latinos must have tanned skin and dark hair. In reality, it’s more of a cultural identity. The are fair haired-latinos and darker-skinned latinos whose ancestors included the African slaves brought to the Americas four hundred years ago. But what really makes them “Latino” or “Hispanic” is their upbringing- growing up in the environment of Latin America, which is culturally a syncretic fusion of Amerindian, African, Spanish, Portuguese and other European influences. 

image

(This is the Brazilian football team that won the 1970 World Cup- you can see Pelé- second from the bottom right. He is an Afro-Brazilian. If you look at his teammates, you can see how latinos come in ALL COLOURS.)

6. Your friend should not be questioning her identity, but those people attacking her should be questioning their utterly myopic worldview. The history of human genetics and migrations makes it abundantly clear how DIVERSE India is- so it’s perfectly possible for her to be Indian but have blonde hair and green eyes, even if it may be less common. 

7. On a more general note, I cannot stress this enough to everyone- DO NOT GO AROUND ATTACKING PEOPLE for “cultural appropriation” when you are NOT even from that culture in question and/or don’t actually know in detail the history and genetics of that region.

  • If you suspect cultural appropriation: DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST or ASK SOMEBODY you know who actually belongs to that group. You may be attacking mixed-race people or people like the anon’s friend, who simply has features that are less genetically dominant- blonde hair shows up less easily in countries with a bigger pool of people with dark hair because dark hair is dominant. Even if her parents had dark hair, it’s possible they both carried a recessive gene for blonde hair that was suppressed by their dark-hair gene. Their child would be blonde if she happened to get both copies of the blonde gene instead of the dark hair gene.
  • Also, even if you think the person isn’t of that group, please bear in mind they might have been invited to dress in that clothing by a friend, or because they’re at an event. (I.e let’s say, at an Indian wedding)
  • I can’t stress how infuriating this “white knight” complex is. Speaking as someone pretty familiar with colonialism, I’ve had people who didn’t grow up in my culture condescendingly insist that if I’m okay with somebody doing something from my culture, it’s “self-internalised oppression”. I’ve studied African colonial literature, and the way people insist on defining what people should be alright with is very reminiscent of 19th century imperialists high-handedly saying, “oh, we have to bring the light of civilisation to save those backwards colonial subjects from themselves!”

image

This is Reese Witherspoon, wearing a kimono in Japan, where she is being taught by JAPANESE people how to perform the traditional tea ceremony. This is not reducing a culture to a caricature because she’s actually learning stuff respectfully and wearing a bona fide kimono.

  • Fighting against cultural appropriation is to prevent cultures from being cheapened, made into jokes, sexual fetishes or ugly caricatures. Part of returning power to people to define themselves is ALSO by allowing them to set the parameters of what they want to share with others- and many cultures are perfectly willing to share aspects that are non-sacred or do not have to be earned. So, for example, do not go around insisting a Japanese person should not be allowed to teach non-Japanese people to wear a kimono- because a kimono, unlike a Navajo war bonnet (akin to veteran’s medals), is something anybody can wear. Recognise this difference.

Know the difference.

knowledge.