I was born and raised in the United States. For much of my childhood and early adulthood, I lived a life that many would describe as privileged. I grew up in a rather exclusive area; my father was well respected and my family didn’t really suffer any economic difficulties. My father became one of the first Computer Dealers in the U.S., and his business was successful beyond any expectations we had. In fact, my father, Baba Dr. Dina Nath Bedi was an incredibly unique person; he was not only a successful businessman, but also a full-time professor and academic. At the time of my upbringing, I did not fully appreciate how rare that actually was. However, in 1991 following the first Gulf War, our life as a family would drastically change. A change came about in America which was insidious, and many vendors to my father’s company started looking at us with foreign stereotypes. There was a growing feeling that we somehow did not deserve what we had. Several racist incidents took place against us, with one in particular that woke me up from my peaceful slumber.
In the Spring of 1991, my father returned home from his usual Wednesday train commute to New York City. My mother and I went to pick him from the train station; I had been busy waxing his car and washing it earlier that afternoon. I wanted to surprise my father. Though he had many other cars, he loved this one in particular. It was a burgundy Mercedes Benz 240D, which remarkably only had 20,000 miles on it despite its 10 year age. It was a slow car, but my father liked it and really only drove it during the Spring and Summer months. That evening, the car sparkled as if it were brand new, and my father praised my efforts. We were approaching a long hill when another car had illegally pulled up to our left; I initially assumed he was going to pass, but he did not. The other driver proceeded to call us racist names, then he pulled in front of us and slammed on the brakes. We were blocked, and there were a multitude of cars behind us. The man punched at our drivers’ side windows, and continued to curse at us; he eventually screamed: “Go back to Iraq!” Angered at the situation, and the damage to his favorite car, my father wanted to get out and stop the attacker; I was luckily somehow able to stop him from trying. Unfortunately, not a single person came to help us that day, authorities included. In the heat of the situation, my mind wandered off for a second and I thought about how once my father had jumped out of the car when a robbery had taken place in New York City and helped a person. But today no help was coming. When I opened my eyes the car was moving again, my father must have reversed and gone around the racist madman. People honked heard because it was too much trouble that he had reversed and had “inconvenienced” an onlooker. I was shocked for many days about this incident. The 240D had scratches and dents all along it left side. My father traded the car in, a few weeks later as he could not get over what occurred.
I did not know that this was the new trend in America. There would be many small incidents over the years which would not even register after this time, I slowly got conditioned to this pattern. After my father passed away, I simply became too busy working to even have time to reflect at the changes in American society which continued to affect the U.S. I would realize once I would go through another personally tragic period of my life, where racism would play the defining role in it’s conclusion that America is truly a nation with fundamentally endemic racial problems which may not be solvable. Leaders such Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King had not sacrificed their lives for no reason. Racism was at the heart of Western Colonialism and expansion. This issue was and is not gone; and it is part of the foreign policies which have been followed by the U.S. Of course there will be denials for this, but facts show otherwise.
Check back for Part II