The Indian Diaspora and Bellingham Riots

The Indian Diaspora within the United States has a rich and fascinating history. There are over 3 million Indo-Americans within the United States with the largest influx of immigrants occurring after 1965. The center of this community and the most heavily populated center lies in the New York region with the area around San Francisco compromising the largest west coast community. This community only compromises 1% of the American population, but is starting to see much more rapid growth and is projected to rise sharply in the coming decades. This Indian community has one of the highest socioeconomic classes compared to other immigrant groups and many of the Indians that migrate to the U.S look to better financial and education opportunities. My interest in studying this Diaspora is the interaction they have had with the wider community of Americans. In doing so I wanted to look into the case of United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind and the Bellingham riots. In both of these cases we have examples of past discrimination against Indian Americans. In the Bellingham riots a group of white men attacked the home of Indians whom were Hindu and in the United States v. Bhagat Singh the Supreme Court held that Indian Americans where not white persons and therefore could not be naturalized citizens. What I find interesting about this case decision is that it ties in very closely with the concept of imagined communities. In this case instead of having an imagined nation we have an imagined community of individuals that are held together by race. This connects with the issue of terrorism today and how Americans view darker skinned individuals. There are many cases where Indians have faced discrimination due to their appearance and mistaken Identity as middle eastern. What I would like to dispel is the idea that an imagined community based on race is anything but a detrimental view and that in the hope of erasing these imagenary ideas we can get rid of the negative stereotypes so many individuals hold.


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