Unsettling “Indian American Hindus” and Model Minority Projects in Trump-Era “America”

Priya Rajalakshmi Chandrasekaran

South Asians have found themselves lodged between competing stereotypes: the docile and disciplinable “achiever” and the ungovernable “terrorist.” Model minority myths inform “Indian American Hindus” of their proximity to “whiteness” while reinforcing a color line that is impossible and dangerous to cross.

Protestors Demonstrating Against the Trump Administration's Muslim Ban. Photo CC BY 2.0 by Shelby Bell

Within a week of his inauguration, President Trump signed Executive Order 13769, intending to suspend the Syrian refugee program and halt the entry of people from seven of the world’s fifty Muslim-majority countries under the rubric of “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States.” As the “Muslim Ban” rolled out chaotically (and was judicially blocked, redrafted, then re-blocked), contentions about immigration charged the national arena – especially because Executive Order 13767, issued two days earlier, called for the immediate construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border. Shortly thereafter, in late February 2017, a white military veteran man began harassing two brown-skinned immigrant men in a sports bar in Olathe, Kansas. Adam Purinton taunted Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani to “go back to their country” and about if they “had visas” and were in the country “illegally.” Returning later that evening with a handgun, Adam Purinton killed Srinivas Kuchibhotla and injured both Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot, who had tried to intervene.[1]

This tragic incident was highly publicized, sparking widespread outrage in the following weeks. To their credit, and reflecting a shift in how public shootings by white males have often been psycho-pathologized in recent decades, most media accounts did not simply pigeonhole Adam Purinton as a deviant individual; they acknowledged, instead, that his violent act was driven by racism working on an ideological and institutional level: specifically, the white nationalist mission espoused by President Trump and many of his supporters. While complex reasons configure this acknowledgment, two oppositional, and relational, projects to re-make racial relations in the US played a key role. On the one hand, Black Lives Matter, which formed in 2012 after the murder of seventeen-year old Trayvon Martin, along with anti-Islamaphobia and immigrant youth justice activism, has visually, rhetorically and historically linked what might be taken as disparate acts into a mainstream narrative about systemic racism. Just as Civil Rights and Black Power organizers contributed to the changes in immigration law that opened US borders to (initially professional) immigrants from many Asian (among other) countries, these contemporary movements have transformed how law enforcement (from the police to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to the FBI) is perceived in the public sphere. On the other hand, white nationalist groups, influenced by the media strategies of “alt-right” proponents like Steve Bannon and Richard Spencer, have grown in numbers and initiated tactics of openly voicing and celebrating xenophobic, racist and misogynistic beliefs, such as those which led twenty-one year old Dylann Roof to open fire during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2015; he killed nine people and injured three others in the name of starting a “race war.”[2] With Trump’s election, insidious and underlying forms of state-sanctioned violence, which anti-racism activists have sought to expose, have blatantly combined with the most virulent and unambiguous expressions of white supremacy. If Adam Purinton was emboldened by this convergence, the mainstream media likewise could not evade it.

One detail broadcast widely by the mainstream media in the aftermath of the Olathe shooting was that Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani were from India and not Iran, as Adam Purinton had apparently assumed.[3] Purinton’s fixation on their being “from Iran,” a country named in Trump’s ban, can hardly be coincidental. The response of many officials, businesses and media outlets was to affirm that Indians are “welcome here” and that “Indian Americans” are legitimate members of the US body politic. Most notably, Kansas recognized March 16th as “Indian-American Appreciation Day.”[4] Though in some ways constructive (for example, the FBI eventually announced that it would launch a federal investigation because Kansas has no hate crime statute), the attention paid to the issue of misidentification is troubling. While illuminating the dangerous breed of racism that Trump’s rise has legitimized and exacerbated, the persistent emphasis placed on Purinton’s failure to appropriately identify the ethnicity of his targets also proliferates the idea that part of the tragedy here stems from the fact that Indian immigrant professionals were located, erroneously, on the wrong side of “the color line,” and that their lives would have been safe had they been correctly identified.

In the first place, the very notion of a mis(taken) identification assumes some basis of accuracy, which, in this case, only superficially applies. Had Purinton’s targets been from Iran, his association of them with terrorism or cultural invasion would have been no less arbitrary.

In other words, some of the attempts to address the social and racist nature of Purinton’s actions have also bolstered faulty premises undermining that same cause. In the first place, the very notion of a mis(taken) identification assumes some basis of accuracy, which, in this case, only superficially applies. Had Purinton’s targets been from Iran, his association of them with terrorism or cultural invasion would have been no less arbitrary.[5] For Purinton, “from Iran” did not reference an area defined by geographic boundaries or a place with a particular political history and structure of governance, but signified “possibly Muslim (therefore potential terrorist),” “culturally alien (therefore inassimilable)” and/or “brown and upwardly mobile in America (therefore threatening to whiteness).” In each of these cases, his identification of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani was not mistaken. Despite the anti-Muslim Hindu nationalist project of some of its government leaders, India still has the third largest Muslim population in the world, much larger than Iran; furthermore, the proximity of India to Iran has contributed to undeniable cultural affinities over the long duree. These two men were brown and from a general region in Asia that, in Purinton’s mind, collapsed together into a monolith assumed to be Muslim. The very real threat of this conflation echoed in the words of Alok Madasani’s father days after the shooting, as his son lay in a hospital bed. He appealed to parents in India “not to send their children” to the US. In so doing, Mr. Madasani was addressing a segment of the population for whom the “Modern Indian” Dream culminates in a voyage to “America” – crossing the threshold into a place of perceived possibility, a place unfettered by corruption or infrastructural and bureaucratic impasses, a place that rewards individual achievement. Instead, he was informing them, “America” might also be a place where one’s best efforts could end in grief, loss and death, and where Indians, even those upwardly mobile, were in peril.[6]

This “line,” it should be noted, is less a line than countless points of inflection, performance, violence, race baiting, policy-making, alliance formation, acknowledgement and disavowal that produce an effect of continuity and delineation. It is created, in part, by casting certain social groups as proximate to “whiteness”/“real Americanness” while, simultaneously, racializing them as incapable of being incorporated into the emblematic body politic. Because whiteness is not only a constructed identity, but also one that is constructed as ideal, it comprises the unstable foundation on which the prevailing “imagined community” and “Dream” of “America” teeters. Because it has no sound biological, logical or moral basis, it must be fabricated, and that fabrication must be reinforced, in a combination of aggressive and nuanced ways, which are tailored to specific historical circumstances, in order to masquerade as a justifiable, organizing principle for daily life and human aspiration. It is on these shaky grounds that the “color line,” and its very production, becomes a kind of rope: tautly marking divisions; bending to accommodate or exclude particular bodies; becoming the high wire on which to precariously enact one’s daily life; transmuting into lasso, lash or noose, undeniably bloodied by history; but appearing, also, to varying degrees and in varying ways, as a cord to clutch onto, or to release, for basic survival.

An opinion piece in the Washington Post by Raj Halder connects this Kansas shooting to a racial strategy employed by the Trump campaign in its eleventh-hour appeal to “Indian American Hindus” of professional classes in October 2016.[7] Trump’s brief focus on this demographic before the November election was largely instrumentalist, as he sought voters in the key swing states of Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio. His campaign put out a series of television ads styled after those of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the kurta wearing self-proclaimed “bachelor” who presents himself as a beacon of neoliberal development and conservative Hindu tradition. Modi, like Trump, also rose to power through populist rhetoric and financial ties; he too is linked to anti-Muslim nationalists (his BJP party is intimately linked to political Hindu fundamentalist groups like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Vishva Hindu Parishad, both of which have orchestrated xenophobic violence in India); despite his wholesome demeanor, he too has been ensconced in scandal (while cleared of complicity by official channels in 2012, it is important to note that Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002, presiding over Hindu-Muslim violence that resulted in at least 1000 deaths and many violent attacks including rape — the vast majority of victims of which were Muslim).

These ads showcased Trump speaking some Hindi and wishing Hindus a “Happy Diwali” (a reference to the religious new year). They also incorporated images of the 2008 terrorist attack in Bombay and presented “a spin on a popular Trump campaign sign that says ‘Great for America’ — ‘Great for US-India Relationship.’”[8] In addition, around this time, Trump held a publicized event in Edison, New Jersey. As Halder notes, this is a region where the self-proclaimed “Dotbusters” (referring to the bindis or colored dots many Hindu women wear on their foreheads) threatened immigrants in the late-1980s. As a shadowy precursor to the anti-immigrant sentiment that led in February 2017 to Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s death in a bar in Kansas, this hate group formed during the epoch of Reagan’s “trickle down” economics, when the wealthiest 1% of US society began its rise to astronomical wealth and when class anxieties for the poor and middle class intensified. Thirty years later, Trump and his staff, Steve Bannon chief among them, have been able to channel the economic anxiety, social isolation, stress, insatiate desire, shame and bodily fear that evolved out of that very trajectory – and which has, in many people’s lives, manifest as debt, illness, foreclosure, imprisonment, stagnant wages and unemployment.

However, the Trump campaign had a challenge: “Indian Americans” lean overwhelmingly toward the Democratic Party. This has largely been true even for those who benefit from upper class tax breaks and might be (or perceive themselves to be) unaffected by cuts to social programs or the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act. “When it comes time to vote,” said Shalabh Kumar, who heads the Republican Hindu Coalition, “… they identify themselves as minorities.”[9] This voting pattern might also reflect other motives, such as expressions of patriotism, and/or continued investment in “America” as a place of “equal opportunity.” Regardless, the Trump campaign needed to diminish the identification of wealthy South Asian voters with both working class South Asians and a broader People of Color voting coalition, as well as to persuade them that alignment with Republican “conservative values” would reduce the threat of exposure to anti-immigrant violence. As David Harvey lays out in a Brief History of Neoliberalism, contemporary political conservatism in the US represents a post-1970 alliance of the capitalist class and the Christian Right as a means of gaining electoral power via the working class vote. In contrast, the conservatism proffered by these ads and speeches targeting “Indian American Hindus,” and by the broader Republican Hindu project, appealed to new citizens’ ties to a non-Christian religion and a “foreign” country. Fiscal conservatism and class advancement, rather than cultural affiliation, could stand in as the embodiment of merit and belonging. Indeed, many identifying with this subset of South Asian Americans maintain a connection to India through their financial and geographic mobility: their wealth affords them the ability to visit India, where they had previously enjoyed class and caste privilege. Modi’s rise, and that of anti-Muslim populism in India, has paralleled their own. In other words, these voters needed to see themselves both as different (a cultural minority) and as exceptional (a model minority): therefore, capable of belonging in an idealized “America” whose “greatness” preceded them.

Like the voters Trump was soliciting, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani had come from India and were poised to live the “American Dream.” In reality, immigrants who once belonged to professional classes often experience “downward mobility” in the US as they find their degrees or experience are not relevant or valued the same way.[10] However, as employees in the tech industry, these two men (and their families) seemed to experience success. They had received their Masters degrees at US institutions. Then they began work as engineers for a GPS navigation and communications device company. They lived in a middle-class suburb among neighbors with whom they identified. If narratives like theirs are affirming for affluent immigrants, confrontations with racist violence like Adam Purinton’s serve as a reminder that, in the final instance, owning a home, however big, will not mean being at home or feeling safe in the Trump era.

Here we see how professional “Indian American Hindus” are being praised, on the one hand, and racially targeted, on the other. They are simultaneously being informed of their proximity to “whiteness”/“real Americanness” and reminded of a line that is impossible and dangerous to cross.

Here we see how professional “Indian American Hindus” are being praised, on the one hand, and racially targeted, on the other. They are simultaneously being informed of their proximity to “whiteness”/“real Americanness” and reminded of a line that is impossible and dangerous to cross. Incongruous as it may seem, this dichotomy benefits Trump’s brand of populist white nationalism, which, like many products bearing his name, sells something less golden than it purports: in this case, the “product” is anti-populace, pro-corporate and pro-big bank (a la Goldman Sachs) capitalism. Political profits here are generated by exacerbating and capitalizing on racial, gender and class anxieties and inter-group hostilities, and doubling down on the value of “whiteness” as an identity.

This might explain Trump’s belated response to the Kansas shooting. A brief, timely statement would have been an easy way to deflect some accusations of racism soon after his inauguration and highly criticized Executive Orders. This was, after all, just a few months after he had tried to solicit Indian American Hindu voters (although it’s certainly possible, however, that a lack of success with this constituency might have shifted his priorities).[11] In The Atlantic, Anand Giridharadas describes how his attempts to solicit a statement from the Trump administration met with silence until just before his article appeared online. He then received the elusive: “The President condemns all acts of violence against the American people.” It took six days, Giridharadas observes, for Trump to publicly address what had happened; he did so in his first address to Congress, along with referencing the threats on and vandalism of Jewish Community Centers (JCCs).[12] In contrast to his earlier “‘Great for America’ — ‘Great for US-India’” campaign, he did not allude to any bilateral alliance or exceptional immigrant status. Vijay Prashad notes that Trump’s changing platform on Asians in US tech industry and his growing resistance to the H-1B visa program (which allows U.S. companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in “specialty” occupations) indicates his gradual progression towards Steve Bannon’s long held antagonism.[13] Even if that is true, the transformation will remain incomplete. After all, fostering confusion and uncertainty are among the trademark strategies Trump brags about in Art of the Deal. Five months later, in August 2017, Trump came under fire for similar equivocation in his response to (and lack of outright condemnation for) the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which (mostly male) white supremacists, armed with guns, clubs and shields, shouted Nazi slogans and enacted lynching allegories.[14]

“Model minority” tropes are necessarily oxymoronic and unstable. They elevate those they diminish. They discipline both the groups they are attributed to and other groups, by reducing complex social trajectories rooted in class, caste, geopolitical, hetero-patriarchal privilege to refrains of merit crudely stamped onto a category of people; furthermore, the very process of “stamping” produces the category: in this case, “Indian American Hindus.” Beyond its association with any social group as an identity or a stereotype, “model minority” reflects a strategy in line with what historian Cedric Robinson demonstrated as the prevailing logic of racial capitalism. “Minorities” in the US have repeatedly been set against each other to re-make and deploy racial capitalist projects at key moments of domestic transformation and empire expansion. Sara Ahmed writes, “The impossibility of reducing hate to a particular body allows hate to circulate in an economic sense, working to differentiate some others from other others, a differentiation that is never ‘over,’ as it awaits for others who have not yet arrived.”[15] As a solidarity exercise, if we think of “minorities” as collectivities that must struggle against hegemonic power to advance for their social interests and whose alliances the ruling classes seek to fragment, then this concept also applies to disenfranchised white communities. Historical analyses by Theodore Allen and Pem Buck, for example, show how whiteness in colonial Virginia and Kentucky was constructed as a kind of model minority project, to distinguish poor “whites” from poor “blacks” to maintain exploitative systems of field labor and prevent revolution.[16]

The term “model minority” is attributed to William Patterson a half-century ago. In a New York Times article in 1966, he postulated on why Japanese Americans were “so different” from other nonwhite groups and able to climb the economic ladder over generations in a way he felt mirrored European immigrant groups that eventually passed as white, despite the fact that Japanese Americans faced racism and couldn’t pass.[17] As with Daniel Moynihan’s highly influential and criticized report on “The Negro Family” issued a year earlier, Patterson tried to find the answers to complex, historical and spatial inequities in the US within the realm of “culture” and national identity. Though Patterson meant this term to distinguish Japanese Americans from other Asian American groups, it became a broader stereotype. On the heels of the 1965 Immigration Act, the “Model Minority Myth” was deployed to instruct immigrants and their children to behave as grateful capitalist subjects and “Americans” while typecasting poor communities of color as culturally depraved (a la the “Moynihan Report”). It masked government disinvestment from social supports in cities. It obscured histories of racism and indenture that many Asian immigrants and Asian Americans faced. It ignored class and gender differences, geopolitical factors causing immigration and highly varied levels of social hardship within the category “Asian Americans.” It distracted from the violence the US government was perpetrating abroad in Asian countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia and Afghanistan. It also stoked tensions with groups of white Americans who saw this “easy success” as a threat.

After 2001 and 9/11, South Asians have found themselves lodged between competing stereotypes: the docile and disciplinable “achiever” and the ungovernable “terrorist,” the latter being a “figure…. mobilized in close proximity to the figure of the asylum seeker.”[18] Even those who have gained wealth can often only move “freely” within a narrow space of expression. “Indian American Hindus” have gained some wiggle room (or the illusion of it) as an effect of political projects of cultural distinction and vulgarization: Prime Minister Modi’s nationalism yoking their “country of origin” to Hinduism, a religion deemed “safe” to the US and global capitalist interests; passive stereotypes lingering from British colonial portrayals; and the depoliticization and commodification of “Indian culture” through the yoga and textile industries.

However, “Indian American Hindus” are not as readily or conveniently distinguished from groups being racialized as “terrorists” – either in actuality, in mainstream representations or in the minds of people like Adam Purinton; first, “Indian American Hindus” are themselves widely diverse and don’t present as one unit; second, “Indian Americans” includes both Muslims and non-Muslims from the same region in India who often share more culturally than those from the same faith; third, many aspects of Indian culture and history are Islamic; fourth, “Indian Americans” share philosophical, cultural and physical features with people from other parts of South Asia and the Middle East North Africa [MENA] region; and finally, as Prashad writes, “Hollywood has made it a habit to hire South Asians to play ‘terrorists,’” potentially further blurring the distinction between these groups.[19]

While the “Dotbusters” of the 1980’s openly directed hostility toward Hindus as the symbol of the “immigrant enemy,” contemporary violence targeting this group has most often been cast, ostensibly, as “misfire.” Beginning in the wake of 9/11 and continuing until the present moment of this new “Trump Era,” there have been a rash of documented incidences of racist acts targeting South Asians “mistaken for people of Arab descent”: for example, the murders of Sikh gas station owner Balbir Singh Sodhi in Mesa, Arizona and Pakistani Muslim Waqar Hassan in his Dallas grocery store in the weeks following 9/11, and the slaughter of six people at a gurdwara (Sikh temple) in Oak Creek Wisconsin in August 2012 by a white supremacist, who was also a veteran.[20] Soon after Purinton’s Kansas shooting, a man in Florida attempted to set fire to an Indian-owned convenience store because he wanted to “run the Arabs out of our country.”[21]

But are these misfires? Prashad rightly challenges the idea that racism adheres to any kind of authentic or ethical standard: what matters, bluntly, is what one appears to be. Moreover, if race is “socially constructed,” it is constructed, I would argue, out of intentionally slick material — which is to say that religious, ethnic, national and racial identifications slide, slip and temporarily latch onto real bodies, voices, places and practices, often following the gravitational pull of least ideological resistance.[22] This makes it difficult for “minorities” (social groups with scant institutional power) to secure a place in society or fasten solidarities. How do you get people whose bodies and families face existential peril to reinforce and re-inscribe the very ideology that threatens them? One way is to stoke their need to perform a prescribed “Americanness” – to behave in ways and support views that visibly distinguish them — in order to build a visible racial “border wall” and secure (tentative) safety on the “inside.”

For white men whose masculinity is rooted in the belief that a “good American man” materially provides for his family, the inability to do so can incite hatred, anger and frustration (at self and others). The brown-skinned model minority immigrant who can be that “good American man” is therefore emasculating, threatening to the assumption of white male potency.

In addition, the persistent stereotype of the hard-working Asian American has paralleled the rise of the tech industry and financial capitalism, assaults on and crises of unions and the failure of many small farms and manufacturing companies, as corporations have merged and gained power in a context of globalized “free trade” (as well as the rise of reality TV and Trump as a public figure). The job and financial insecurities of white Americans of the falling middle class in this context of corporate capitalism are symbolically tied to brown-skinned outsiders who appear to arrive and quickly achieve things like private homeownership. They are seen, Prashad points out, not only as “terrorists” but also as “usurpers of high-tech jobs.” As a parallel, the post-9/11 violence against South Asian small business owners reveals a white supremacist response to something more than supposed “terrorism;” it is arguably also a white supremacist response to perceived threatening displays of entrepreneurship and meritocracy. It is striking how entangled stereotypes pathologizing the “negro family” in the Moynihan report were with heteronormative and patriarchal assumptions about the “white family” as a core tenet of the American identity and ideal. For white men whose masculinity is rooted in the belief that a “good American man” materially provides for his family, the inability to do so can incite hatred, anger and frustration (at self and others). The brown-skinned model minority immigrant who can be that “good American man” is therefore emasculating, threatening to the assumption of white male potency. The resulting violence is a hyper-expression of another masculine ideal: physical domination – making someone bleed. It often gets channeled towards undocumented immigrants because they cannot harness (and are intensely subjected to) the power of the state.

Building on post-9/11 “anti-terrorism” fear and rhetoric, the new administration’s xenophobic vision has widened the opening to discharge these class anxieties. For disenfranchised white voters, the renewed freedom of expression involves exerting power but does not actually empower. Moreover, the very criteria by which the elite among brown-skinned immigrants are encouraged to assert their worthiness and symbolic right to belong – being “professionals,” climbing economic ladders and concealing the class backgrounds, caste privilege and social connections that paved the way for upward mobility – are the precise reasons why white nationalists seek to expunge them. In the eyes of groups that feel nostalgia for a sense of recognition, official celebrations of other groups might appear as affronts, thereby exacerbating, rather than diminishing, the potential for violence. Moreover, Trump’s political rise has drawn on tropes and hallmarks of white supremacy to direct and fragment a commonly felt frustration about “dreams deferred” after four decades of national policies and transnational agreements that have enabled corporations and the super rich to not only accrue massive wealth but also wield phenomenal power in regional, national and global politics. Now, dual deceptions inherent in the ideal of “America” face exposure and crisis, and they are also coming to a head: that of whiteness as the embodiment of achievement (only because of its hidden guarantee of extra worth and capacity), and that of “a nation of immigrants” as the enactment of equal opportunity (even though class, race, ethnicity and gender have always, and systematically, shaped trajectories of possibility).

In the 1980s, Desis (peoples identifying/identified as South Asian) challenged the Dotbusters by building solidarities across different social identities; Halder calls for similar allied strategies now.[23] Building off previous efforts, groups like DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving) are organizing against the Trump-agenda through alliances such as the #NoWallNoBan movement that cut across lines of racial and class division.[24] One challenge now is how, in the face of Trump-era violence and existential threats that are often positioned against each other, differently situated groups can use this moment of exposure and crisis in the era of corporatocracy to, in fact, work against the divide and conquer logic of racial capitalism. Taking on this challenge means refusing stereotypes (of others or ourselves) that might, in the short term, work to our benefit and working to break free from modes of survival that are based on our distinctiveness, individuation or merit, because, ultimately, grasping for this kind of tentative security casts shadows in the places that need most sun. This means strategically and collectively rejecting the “model” status in order to destabilize the bedrock of “minority” making on which it stands.

References and Footnotes

  1. John Eligon, Alan Blinder and Nida Najar, “Hate Crime Is Feared as 2 Indian Engineers Are Shot in Kansas,” The New York Times, February 24, 2017.
  2. The nine victims who died in the Charleston shooting were Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson and Clementa C. Pinckney (the church’s pastor and a South Carolina state senator).
  3. Samantha Schmidt, “Suspect in Kansas bar shooting of Indians apparently thought they were Iranians,” Washington Post, February 28, 2017.
  4. Lalit K Jha, “Kansas honours Indian techie killed in hate crime,” live mint, March 17, 2017.
  5. Even the conservative libertarian think tank Cato Institute holds that “foreigners from those seven nations [identified in Trump’s ban] have killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and the end of 2015. “Little National Security Benefit to Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration,” Cato Institute, accessed April 1, 2017.
  6. Annie Gowen and Rama Lakshmi, “‘I appeal to all the parents in India not to send their children’ to the U.S., distraught father says after shooting,” Washington Post, February 24, 2017.
  7. Raj Halder, “Indian Americans won’t be safe as long as the White House is inciting fear,” Washington Post, March 14, 2017.
  8. Maxwell Tani, “Donald Trump speaks Hindi in unusual new campaign ad aimed at Indian-American voters,” Business Insider, October 27, 2016.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Deepak Singh, How May I Help You? An Immigrant's Journey from MBA to Minimum Wage (Berkeley, CA: University of CA Press, 2017).
  11. Kanchan Chandra, “Why most Indian American Hindus do not support Trump,” Washington Post, October 20, 2016.
  12. Anand Giridharadas, “A Murder in Trump's America,” The Atlantic, February 28, 2017.
  13. Vijay Prashad, “Inventing Enemies,” Frontline, March 31, 2017.
  14. Soon after this harrowing event, Steve Bannon was fired and returned to head the rightwing Breitbart News, where he claimed he would have more freedom to pursue his “war.” It should be noted, furthermore, that the “protestors” in Charlottesville were dressed in camouflage, merging of white nationalism with a glorification and re-claiming of military power, which has been a mechanism of US global intervention. Heather Heyer was killed, and nineteen people injured, when a white supremacist man ran his car through a group counter-protesting this racist rally.
  15. Sara Ahmed, “Affective Economies,” Social Text 79 (2004): 123.
  16. Pem Davidson Buck. Worked to the Bone: Race, Class, Power, and Privilege in Kentucky (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2002). Theodore W. Allen. The Invention of the White Race Volume One: Racial Oppression and Social Control (London: Verso, 1994).
  17. William Petersen, “Success Story, Japanese-American Style,” The New York Times, January 9, 1966. Accessed from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2006), 180.
  18. Sara Ahmed, “Affective Economies,” Social Text 79 (2004): 135-136.
  19. Vijay Prashad, “Inventing Enemies,” Frontline, March 31, 2017.
  20. Emine Saner, “Why are Sikhs Targeted by Anti-Muslim Extremists?” The Guardian, August 8, 2012. Tamar Lewin. “Sikh Owner of Gas Station is Fatally Shot in Rampage.” New York Times, September 17, 2001. The six victims who died in the Oak Creek shooting were Paramjit Kaur, Prakash Singh, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Suveg Singh and Satwant Singh Kaleka (the gurdwara’s founder).
  21. Amy B. Wong, “A Man in a store assumed Indian owners were Muslim. So he tried to burn it down, police say,” Washington Post, March 12, 2017.
  22. Michael Omi and Howard Winant. Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s. 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 1994).
  23. Sameer Rao, “South Asian Americans Must Unite to Fight Trump Policies,” Colorlines, March 15, 2017.
  24. Nazia Kazi, “#NoWallNoBan: Muslims and Latinxs as Enemies of the State,” Truthout, January 27, 2017.