On Raising Hindu Americans in Detroit, Michigan

On Raising Hindu Americans in Detroit, Michigan

By Chandru Acharya


As a first generation American who grew up in India, it seems counter-intuitive, at first, to be writing about growing up Hindu in America. Reflecting on my experience as a parent raising two Hindu American teens, though, a 19-year old and a 13-year old, I feel emboldened to put ‘pen to paper’ and share my thoughts.

Interacting with Hindu kids growing up in America today, I find that they primarily identify as Americans. They share and cherish American core values and have American role models from various walks of life. Whether it is music, sport, or dance, mainstream American culture is a powerful glue that brings people together, breaking down the barriers that divide. Nonetheless, every individual wears secondary identities based on such criteria as gender, ethnicity, religion and race.

Hindu kids too have nagging questions about their roots, questions like: Who is a Hindu? and What is our identity?

Immigrants in a New Home

Most first-generation Indian Americans reach the shores of this bountiful country in pursuit of the great American Dream. Many have advanced degrees in fields such as computer science, medicine, and biotechnology and find their skills and experience much sought after in the techno-commercial marketplace here. I immigrated to America from India in 2002 as an information technology professional, and my family came shortly thereafter. The suburbs of Detroit, Michigan welcomed us with traditional Midwestern warmth. I felt at home the moment I arrived in this new land, surrounded by the majestic great lakes.

About 2.7 million Hindu Americans, mostly of South Asian descent, live in America today. Second-generation Hindu Americans, growing up in the late 90s and the early 2000s, found the overall environment encouraging, allowing them to pursue a career of choice as equals. This has been particularly true where the Hindu population is highly concentrated in socially diverse states such as California, New Jersey, New York, and Texas. The environment is not always welcoming, though. 

In some regions Hindu Americans feel that they are “polemically tolerated,” in others they are simply “accepted,” while in a city like Detroit the diversity they bring the community is “celebrated.”

Read the rest @ http://www.theinterfaithobserver.org/journal-articles/2014/11/15/on-raising-hindu-americans-in-detroit-michigan.html


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