Updated: Sep 3, 2020
(Written Interview with Ravi Gadasally)
Born and brought up in Los Angeles, California, Ravi Gadasally is a freshman at the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES). Ravi identifies as a proud American, with his father’s side hailing from Karnataka, India, and his mother’s side descending from Spanish missionaries in California and Jews from Eastern Europe. In his spare time, Ravi likes to read Wikipedia articles pertaining to historical or political topics, and also enjoys reading various newspapers.
Suraj Kulkarni: Thank you so much for agreeing to participate in this interview! Sharing your own experiences and insights pertaining to your life can be quite tough, so thank you for taking the time to do this.
Ravi Gadasally: My pleasure.
Suraj Kulkarni: First, can you give a brief description of who you are as well as your heritage?
Ravi Gadasally: I’m Ravi Gadasally. I live in Los Angeles, California. I’m in ninth grade. My father is from India, and my mother is native to Los Angeles. Quite a few generations back, people from my mother’s mother’s side of the family descended from Spanish missionaries in the California area and on my mother’s father’s side of the family the are Jews from Eastern Europe.
Suraj Kulkarni: Growing up biracial, did you ever have trouble fully finding your own identity?
Ravi Gadasally: Well, everyone has to connect with both sides of their family. I have a good relationship with both sides of my family, but it is somewhat different because both sides of my family are made of two completely different groups of people.
Suraj Kulkarni: How did being biracial affect your own experiences of connecting to Indian culture and your indian side?
Ravi Gadasally: It’s not like being completely Indian, because you are not exactly fully part of the group. You are part of the family, but still somewhat isolated from the community.
Suraj Kulkarni: I heard that you have recently started learning Kannada, the language that your father and people from his side speak. Has being biracial affected how fluent you became in an Indian language?
Ravi Gadasally: If I was one hundred percent Kannadiga, I would definitely have less difficulty with Kannada, especially because it would have been a language that I would have been much more familiar with.
Suraj Kulkarni: Has being half-Indian given you any advantages or benefits?
Ravi Gadasally: Hmmm, let me think. I’m not quite sure to be honest. I would say it has, but at the same time, it hasn’t. I can’t necessarily think of any examples off the top of my head, though. If I wasn’t biracial, my identity and original thought process would also change because I would have grown up in a completely different environment.
Suraj Kulkarni: That definitely makes sense. It is difficult to compare and contrast your life to something that you haven’t really experienced. Can you tell us more about where you are going to school?
Ravi Gadasally: I go to LACES (Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies). It is the best school in the LAUSD district, and probably one of the best in the country. I really have no bias.
Suraj Kulkarni : (laughs)
Ravi Gadasally: It’s a magnet school and quite selective. There is a standard application process to become a student. Those who have siblings or attend certain schools have higher chances of getting in.
Suraj Kulkarni: Wow, that’s pretty cool! Are you studying at the same school that you previously attended as a middle school student?
Ravi Gadasally: Yes. LACES is a 6-12 school. It used to be 4-12, but now it's 6-12.
Suraj Kulkarni: Although you are currently a freshman and it’s pretty difficult to answer this since we are in a pandemic, do you think that staying in the same school has made you more comfortable in interacting with others and being who you are?
Ravi Gadasally: Yeah of course! I’m already comfortable with many students, classmates, and teachers, especially because I know who they are.
Suraj Kulkarni: Are you aware if ethnic associations at your school are accepting to students that are biracial? A lot of people say that biracial students have harder times fitting into one specific group or ethnicity based association because they check more than one box.
Ravi Gadasally: Thankfully, that’s not the case in my school. Anybody can join any club that they want. That should definitely be how clubs work. Club leaders that are not willing to accept students that fall outside their own desired box shouldn’t really hold their positions as club leaders.
Suraj Kulkarni: What do you think are some possible solutions to help ethnicity-based associations at schools become more accepting of others who don’t particularly belong to that specific ethnicity? Do you think there are any?
Ravi Gadasally: Yeah, I think there are. Preventing club leaders from discriminating against people of a certain demographic when accepting students should definitely be a rule in schools. If someone wants to join, then they definitely should be able to. It’s really sad when clubs discriminate against students, and it shouldn’t be like that. Discrimination is discrimination.
Suraj Kulkarni: Is it true that you have a vision for an Asian Students Association at LACES in the future? I know that LACES doesn’t have an association that encompasses all asian ethnicities.
Ravi Gadasally: LACES has a Korean Culture Club as well as smaller Japanese and Filipino associations, but that’s about it. We don’t really have other Asian student associations or anything like that. I have not created any plans for an Asian student association.
Suraj Kulkarni: I honestly have not known that many biracial students, so learning more about your own experiences has definitely broadened my understanding. If you need any help with creating an Asian Student Association, let me know! I personally think that it’s a great idea.
Suraj Kulkarni: Is there anything else you would like to mention that you weren’t able to earlier in this interview?
Ravi Gadasally: No, that’s pretty much it.