My name is Dhriti Prakash. I am a 9th grader living in Wisconsin. As a South Asian person living here, I’ve always been concerned with the representation of South Asian people in American media.
When I was younger, I would see South Asian characters on screen like Anu from “The Simpsons” and Baljeet from “Phineas and Ferb”. It confused me to see how they acted because neither me nor any South Asian kids I knew acted like those characters. They were made to fit the stereotypes that white people had for South Asians. For example, they had “Indian” accents that didn’t match how people from India sounded at all. It hurt to see these TV shows and the kids who watched them mock who my people were, inaccurately at that. The first time I felt like South Asians were accurately represented was in the 2020 Netflix show created by Mindy Kaling, “Never Have I Ever”. The show depicted the life of an American-born Indian teenage girl living in California. It showed her doing everyday things that a teenager would do, so why was I enthralled by it? It was because Devi, the main character, did things that any other teenager would do, yet her life was so similar to mine. Her household was run the same way as mine. She went to Indian gatherings, just like me. She faced the same racist remarks that I have.
When I heard discussions about “Never Have I Ever”, I was happy to join in the conversation, knowing that this show was one of the first to finally properly represent South Asians. It proved that all this time, South Asians characters on screen were created to be made fun of.
I want people to realize that South Asians are constantly misrepresented. When you see a South Asian character on screen, don’t mock them. Looks, culture, and the way South Asians speak aren’t jokes. They’re who we uniquely are, and the rest of the world needs to know that.