About the Creator
Hi everyone! Thank you for visiting Only Being You! My name is Suraj Kulkarni and I’m a rising senior at Corvallis High School in Corvallis, OR. I love debating, teaching, playing instruments, and pretty much anything that makes me happy. I have explained why I created Only Being You below. I hope you enjoy:)
Why I created Only Being You
Today, I am proud to be an Indian American. I embrace my culture and celebrate it wholeheartedly. My culture, just like other cultures, is unique and special, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A few years ago, however, I didn’t feel this way.
“Your name is Sewage, right?”. Mispronunciations of foreign names are nothing new to me. I was fortunate enough to go to a great elementary school with many inspiring and engaging teachers who went above and beyond to ensure that I was successful, but my experience as a student was somewhat turbulent. Correcting some of my classmates on the first day of school and telling them that my name was Suraj (pronounced as Soo-raj), only waiting a few moments to be humiliated when they would make jokes about my name, was frightening.
Although the Indian food that I took to school was mouthwatering, taking lemon rice, Rotis rolled in sugar, and Aloo Fry to school during lunch made me feel apprehensive. Comments about how Indian food looked, smelled, and tasted were consistently made to the point where I ate my lunch all by myself because I felt ashamed of my own background.
While I may not have faced blatant racism and discrimination, the buildup of constant microaggressions is harmful to the psyche. My life was all about approval from others, but that has changed.
Only Being You is a space for others, just like myself, to explore different aspects of various cultures, understand the minority struggle, and become better allies. Students worldwide experience the ignorance that I faced and more, and spreading awareness and understanding is the first step in empowering those students.
Discussing discrimination, prejudice, and minority struggles was considered taboo by many until the Black Lives Matter movement. Thankfully, larger numbers of students, members of the U.S. government, and world leaders are finally speaking out against injustice against minorities, particularly African Americans, that have been happening since as long as we can remember.
Solving the complex structures of discrimination and prejudice will take time, as discrimination and prejudice are quite systemic. However, acknowledging that there are problems in the status quo and spreading awareness is fundamental. Only through awareness can we find feasible solutions to these problems.
This world needs love and support more than anything. Embracing your own individuality is also of utmost importance; individuality is what makes everyone uniquely special.
I strongly feel that students deserve to feel comfortable and welcomed within their own schools, homes, cultures, identities, and backgrounds. Diversity is beautiful and should be celebrated!
We are in this together!