Third essay excerpt from A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race. Ravi Shankar explores across Pan Asian Indian Identity and North American First People's identities, as well as across gender, to consider contemporary NA women poet.s.
Finding Family with Native American Women Poets
You a red or a brown? That was a question I would get growing up in Manassas, Virginia in one of the few South Asian families around when I would respond to the essentialist queries from the booger-chewer on the school bus who wanted to know specifically what I was. An Indian. A brown Indian-American, a TamBram to be specific, a Tamilian Brahmin whose parents came from Tamil Nadu in South India to settle in Northern Virginia. I didn’t know much about the first peoples back then and it was never clear to me, back then (and even now) whether I would rise or diminish in someone’s appreciation by revealing that I did not live on the rez but rather ate rice with my hands.