Mississippi tends to be a black and white world when it comes to race. We usually talk about race relations between Black and White people, disregarding the many Asian communities present in Mississippi. Although Asians in Mississippi make up just 1.1% of the population, their stories are necessary to both the history and present of Mississippi.
I interviewed members of the Millsaps community, including Dr. Monika Rawal, Kamaljyot Bhalla, Rohinton Dossabhoy, and Sree Vedala. Their responses were eye-opening; and a few common concepts rose from their answers: conversations, exposure, and education.
The following is a found poem I compiled from some of the responses:
Stories of Mississippi: Uncovering New Bones
Usually, students and professors like to assume that I am an international student…
While this misconception does not affect me, it does raise many questions
I have about what people like to assume students at Millsaps “are”, or rather “should be.”
[People] assume who you are based on your color. If you’re brown… they order you as Indian.
It’s more than just color.
Mississippi is a place where tensions of race have been situated around black and white communities, yet the consequence of those black and white tensions have impacted the Asian communities in Mississippi, which must be brought to life.
As colored people, we do find solidarity in our vicinities.
I’ve become proud of where I’m from.
I look at my heritage and see my people had come from a lot of stuff:
wars, immigration, and everything.
It’s a miracle that I am able to be here now.
My religion is Sikhism and one of the key values of Sikhi is to respect and accept everyone.
…at Millsaps, having such a small group makes a little “ethnic” family appear.
We believe in working together.
I found the people here at Millsaps to be completely different…
more warm, more human than in other places.
People have been a lot more open-minded than expected.
Unless there’s someone like me, who belongs to that culture,
who pulls them to that event [Diwali], they’re not going to go.
Kamaljyot Bhalla – lines 1-3, 6-8, 14-15 Dr. Monika Rawal – lines 16-18, 20-21
Rohinton Dossabhoy – lines 4-5, 10-13 Sree Vedala – lines 9, 19