Dr. Anantha Babbili speaks out on race vs. ethnicity


Alessandra Francisco, Reporter

In light of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month, Dr. Anantha Babbili spoke on the Island Cultural Alliance’s IGTV about whether Indians are also Asians.

With Asian Americans being a timely topic right now, it is important to be knowledgeable about who is considered Asian American. Dr. Babbili addressed how cultural branding in America has resulted in a confusion of whether Indians are also Asians. The policies within America’s immigration system created a need to identify specific race identities, resulting in confusing cultural branding. However in India it is common knowledge that they are Asian.

Dr. Babbili specified that Indians are also Asian in three ways, including geographically, culturally and politically. Although they have similarities in all three of these categories, Babbili stated that the identity crisis first began to loom because Americans have trouble identifying darker complected Indians who are actually Asian. This is because they don’t have the “oriental” physical features that many Americans stereotypically expect all Asians to have. He clarified that Asia has 42 countries so there is a lot of diversity over the continent, especially religiously and physically.

Despite the religious differences in India they largely live in peace. The religious tolerance of the country can be accredited to most of the population practicing Hinduism. Hinduism embraces many different religious ideas so there isn’t typically a lot of conflict between religions.

We often see our fellow Indian Americans as doctors, nurses and in other notable concentrations. Dr. Babbili explained that there was a point in time where Americans needed help filling those positions and Indian Americans were the perfect fit. Since their school system is based on the English language it takes no effort to get past the language barrier.

Although Indian Americans have been very successful in the United States, Dr. Babbili explained that stereotypes and certain social situations within the country have made it difficult to live life without being reminded that he is a part of a minority group. Most of these situations arise in workplaces or academics. In academics, Americans signify Indian Americans to be significantly smarter than other Americans rather than being inclusive.

When speaking about the personal struggles Dr. Babbili has faced since being in the United States he said, “coming from one of the largest populated countries in the world, you never think you’re a minority anywhere until you come to the United States… and certain events remind you that you really don’t belong in the majority of this country.” The prejudice Dr. Babbili has faced in higher workplace positions describes what a lot of immigrants face when coming to work in the United States. It is important to knock down these racial boundaries throughout the country to make for a more united and welcoming melting pot.