Über Desi

Keeping it real, desi ishtyle

  • Author: Sidhu
  • Published: Nov 4th, 2010
  • Category: Desi Please
  • Comments: Comments Off

Racially profiled – Prof. Ravi Shankar Update

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Last year, we interviewed Prof. Ravi Shankar, from the Central Connecticut State University, who was arrested and imprisoned on a perceived traffic violation and had to spend 30 hrs in confinement.  This week he contacted us to inform that the city of New York ‘admitted culpability’ and he received a compensation that he says isn’t life changing ‘but it’s at least a measure of vindication’. The settlement details cannot be disclosed as per the rules, but there has been no apology for Prof. Shankar who was called ’sand nigger’ by the arresting officer.

The officer then put the professor up against a wall and proceeded to arrest him based on a warrant out for a man of the same name.

When put into the back of the police cruiser, Shankar reported one of the officers said “it’s always a good day when you can bag a sand nigger.”

Back at the police station Shankar learned that the warrant out for the man of the same name had a physical description of a 5-foot 10-inch white male weighing 140 pounds.

Dark skinned and 6-foot 2-inch, Shankar weighs 200 pounds.

Despite the obvious difference, Shankar was told to tell it to the judge and ultimately spent Friday and Saturday night in a crowded jail cell with an open bathroom and nothing but a cold hard floor to sleep on.

More details here – link

Indian-American in California wins discrimination lawsuit

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Raj Naidu, an immigrant engineer from India won a discrimination case against his former supervisor at the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC). [SF Gate]

Here’s the sad part to the story, his supervisor at the PUC was also an immigrant, from Iran.

Naidu, an engineer in the state PUC’s water division since 2001, received strong job evaluations until he got Moshen Kazemzadeh as a new supervisor in 2004, the court said.

Normally, when you got to go, you got to go. “Not so fast, my friend” said Raj’s supervisor. Reminding Raj of his childhood in India when he had to take the teacher’s permission to go to the bathroom, by holding up his pinkie, his supervisor instituted similar nanny rules for Raj specifically, it appears.

According to evidence presented at trial, Kazemzadeh prohibited Naidu from taking bathroom breaks without permission, withdrew previous supervisors’ approval for telecommuting, frequently shouted at him and deliberately gave him incorrect job instructions, hurting his performance.

Sabotaging his work by giving incorrect instructions, pretty classy, I should say.

To add insult to injury, Raj had to endure a paycut, thanks to his supervisor.

Based on the supervisor’s assessments, the PUC reprimanded Naidu in 2005 and cut his pay by 5 percent for six months, the court said.

Why this hatred towards Raj? Because he was an Indian.

Among other things, the supervisor, an immigrant from Iran, told Naidu, “I was able to dismiss one Indian before. … I will do it for you also,” the court said.

Evidence at the trial supported the judge’s conclusion that the PUC’s claim of poor performance was a pretext and that Naidu “was subjected to discipline because he was an Indian,” said Presiding Justice Barbara Jones in the 3-0 ruling. She said Kazemzadeh “made an overtly racist remark to (Naidu) and threatened to have him fired” but was allowed to remain his supervisor for more than a year.

Per the article, the claims have been corroborated by various witnesses.

Not finding much help from the authorities at the PUC, Raj had to resort to the legal system. In the end, Raj had the last laugh when he was awarded approximately $1 million dollar in losses and fees.

Superior Court Judge Bruce Chan, after a non-jury trial in 2007, found both harassment and discrimination and awarded Naidu $2,100 for economic losses, $545,000 for emotional distress and $499,000 in attorney’s fees. The appeals court agreed with Chan.

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Dear Dunkin’ Donuts

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Dunkin Donuts, my favorite coffee brand, pulled a Rachel Ray ad because right wing blogger, Michelle Malkin, felt that the scarf resembled a kaffiyeh and that “The kaffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad,” [CNN] (tip Runa via email)

Letter protesting the withdrawal of an ad because of an ethnic scarf
I sent mine, did you?

img: via Über Desi @ Flickr.com

Enough is enough. This kind of fear mongering has gone on for too long and went too far this time. By pulling the Rachel Ray ad, not only did Dunkin Donuts kowtow to unreasonable demands but also perpetuated the stereotype that anyone wearing a certain kind of clothing is a jihadist or terrorist. This is perhaps only symbolic but it could also signify the beginning of a slippery slope where further unreasonable demands (Against turbans, for instance) could be made under the guise of faux-patriotism.

Instead of getting mad at the situation and simply venting our frustrations by blogging about it, we propose a little online Gandhigiri. Print the following protest letter, paste a stamp, write your address, sign it and post it. [MS Word 97-03] [PDF Version]

Also forward this letter to your friends, families and co-workers. Perhaps sending dozens of nicely worded requests to Dunkin’ Donuts’ Customer Care department should help in getting the point across.

Share your thoughts in the comments space below and, of course, print, sign and send the protest letter to Dunkin’ Donuts.

Dear Dunkin’ Donuts,
I’m extremely disappointed in your decision to withdraw the above ad because a few people felt it related to jihadists. By withdrawing this ad, you’ve not only folded to demands of an unreasonable nature but also unwittingly perpetuated this myth that people wearing certain traditional clothing are similar to jihadists and terrorists.
People belonging to various cultures across the country consume your products daily and, frankly, your decision to withdraw this innocuous web ad shows a lack of understanding and respect to these customers. I request that you do the right thing and put this ad back in circulation or make an appropriate gesture of conciliation to customers from all cultures.
Signed,
A disappointed customer

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Black IPL cheerleaders claim racial abuse

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Two black British cheerleaders in an interview to “The SUN” were quoted as saying that they were stopped from going on stage at an IPL pre-match show by a staff member from pre-match show organisers Wizcraft International Entertainment. The staff members allegedly told the two girls: “people here don’t want to see dark people“. The two cheerleaders also allege he used the “N” word was and told them people “only wanted beautiful white girls“. [TOI]

Cheerleaders face racial abuse
img: via Courier Mail Australia

Coming on the heels of the Shilpa Shetty-Big Brother fiasco [1,2,3,4], the British media has picked up the story and (rightfully) ran with it.

Truly disgraceful, if this transpired as reported in the SUN story. Knowing our culture, the way people think and the overall societal affinity towards fairer skinned people, it is hard to imagine some idiot might not have acted in such a despicable manner. However, the two cheerleaders have also said that overall, the crowd was very receptive to them. I can see why the crowd were so receptive. I concur.

Wizcraft International Entertainment has denied any knowledge of the incident. In case the name, Wizcraft, sounded familiar, they’re the same event organizers who brought Michael Jackson and the Miss World contest to India in the 90s.

Justice for Kapali?

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On November 18,2007  Kapali Giridhar Swamy , 27 of Decatur, Alabama was traveling in a car along with Gina Gonzalez and Christopher Brett Pennington to Pennington’s residence after  a night out in Birmingham. Along the way, an argument began between Swamy  and Gonzalez that escalated to the point that Pennington hit Swamy. Kapali fell to the ground. When emergency medical personnel arrived a few minutes later, he was found to be without a pulse. Pennington was subsequently arrested and charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. In January 2008, an 18-member Grand Jury decided in a closed hearing not to indict Pennington on a single charge and he walked free.

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