Mississippi Masala: Transnationalism and Overcoming Prejudice

Mississippi Masala provides a unique view into transnationalism, focusing not only on the challenges that immigrant Indians face but also looking into the racial issues in Africa and the United States. One of the most interesting parts of this film was seeing how the father,  Jay, overcome his prejudice towards Africans and African Americans. After Jay’s fallout with Okelo and being forced to leave Uganda, he harbored prejudice against the black community. This created tension between him and his daughter, Meena, as she had fallen in love with Demetrius, a black American.

It is important to recognize, however, that the tension created between the two family’s because of Meena and Demetrius’s relationship went beyond appearance. Meena’s parents had always held hope that she would marry another Indian, and even Demetrius was given grief over dating someone “outside” of his community. At one point when Jay is speaking to Meena about Okelo and Demetrius, he says, “People stick to their own kind. You are forced to accept that when you grow older.” Meena refuses to accept this and points out the many times that Okello had helped their family and proved his love and loyalty to them.

The film also addresses the complexity of transnationalism, focusing especially on Jay’s background and story. When asked by Okelo why he was so stuck on staying in Uganda, Jay replied, “I was born here! I have always been Ugandan first, Indian second. I have been called a bootlicker and a traitor by my fellow Indians.” This illustrates that no matter where he was, Jay was unable to find a place that he felt a part of the community. He was forced out of the place he grew up, unable to find sanctuary with other Indians because of his background, and moved to the U.S. in an area where minorities are not taken seriously or seen as human. Although he and his family did find a community to surround themselves with, Jay continued to try to find a way to go back to Uganda – his home.

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