Second-generation Indian American students experience discrimination as early as preschool, a recent study suggests.
The research, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health last month, looked into the discrimination that many young Indian Americans face and how their identities are affected.
Researchers from the Texas A&M University School of Public Health, led by Center for Health Equity and Evaluation Research (CHEER) Director Jamilia Blake, Ph.D., conducted open-ended surveys on nine Indian American adolescents aged between 12 and 17
All of the surveyed participants were born in the U.S. to parents who immigrated from India after the age of 18.
Individual interviews covered five hypothetical scenarios that involved discrimination. Follow-up questions were asked when necessary to identify how each participant perceived each situation.
Based on the participants’ responses, they had received discriminatory comments about Indian culture, language or religion from schoolmates.
The interviewees also reported challenges in balancing their Indian identity and their aspirations to be viewed as American. They were often forced to speak and act differently when around schoolmates and with family, with some admitting to feeling that they don’t fit into either group.
According to the adolescents, they begin facing discrimination as early as preschool or elementary school.
While the findings highlight the challenges that many young Indian Americans face, the research team pointed out their limited study sample. They also sourced from a single geographical area and involved only one ethnic group among South Asian Americans.
The researchers noted that further research involving a larger and more diverse sample size could better reflect the much broader experiences of South Asian American adolescents.