How To Use Discrimination in Your Favor


When you are rejected right from the time you set foot on earth, you either,

  • Believe what the person tells you and go down the dumps.
  • Or strike when the iron is hot and become thick-skinned

I chose the latter.

Discrimination started when I was born

When I was born my half Scottish grandma had two expectations:

  • She expected me to be a boy.
  • She expected me to be fair.

I was neither.

She put her hands on her head in disappointment. They remained glued there until she voiced her discontent to me.

I could do nothing about it. I took my revenge by hiding her walking stick so that she could not walk, or her glasses so she could not see.

My father finally accepted that I was not the son he wanted by making it clear to me that I was the weaker sex.

As I grew up, he tried very hard to transform me into the son he wanted. He taught me how to hunt and fish. He would secretly mix rum in a small coke bottle and let me drink it down every evening.

I drank with his male friends. They tried to make me sit on their laps and reach down to untouchable depths in front of his eyes. He ignored.

Then he kept male paying guests in our house. One of them entered my room while I was sleeping and clenched my breasts. He would have gone further, had my dog not stopped him.

I am blind without my spectacles. He thought I would never know who the culprit was. But the strong stench of the coconut oil he used, told me.

I told my dad about this. He told me I should have locked the door and slept.

“You are a girl. You are supposed to dress modestly so that men don’t feel tempted to touch you.”

This was the first time he had acknowledged that I indeed was a girl. A girl, too weak to fight a male who attacked me.

We were discriminated against because we were Christians

We were three girls born to a Christian family in posh South Delhi.

Society drilled into us the fact that we were Christians. Because we were Christians, our parents did not get along with each other. Because we were Christians, we wore skirts above the knees.

I sang with a choir. Boys often dropped me back home. Concerned motherly ‘aunties’ tried to give me a piece of their minds. Telling me that going around with a boy in the dark was dangerous. They had only our goodwill in mind.

I told ‘aunty’ that all my boyfriends were gays. She stared open-mouthed.

Gays and transgenders were just as vulnerable

I was a journalist by day and a singer by night. Most artistic, courteous men here, were either bi or homosexual.

One day, my male gay friends walked me down a godforsaken railway line in the dark.

A group of real men teased saying,

“Prostitute, how much will you charge?”

The oppressors knew that these men were different. The men with me knew that they were referring to all of us.

We started walking fast toward the opposite direction which led to a police station. After they had scared us to death, the oppressors laughed at the top of their voices.

For the first time, I experienced that men of a different kind were just as vulnerable. We were even.

Discrimination on the basis of appearance

In 2014, I got married and moved to the USA. I wanted to put my discriminated self behind and start afresh. But I fell into a marsh I could never get out of.

Here, just like the caste system in India, where the caste a person was born in determined his profession, my appearance decided what I could do, what I could eat, and what choices I had left.

As an Indian, being a doctor or an engineer was my niche.

I was an Opera singer. Even before I could open my mouth to sing at an audition, I was labeled a Bollywood item number.

When I opened it, jaws dropped down, and ears smoked.

I bagged a role, but never the lead. I had an Indian accent which was a disgrace to hear on stage.

Some places blatantly told me,

“Oh, just put on an American accent. We’ll paint your face white and get you a wig.”

No thank you. I walked away.

I was a writer but my appearance did not justify that I was native, or be able to write in English.

I was a Christian coming from a Hindu dominant nation. This was news!

“But you don’t eat beef?”

“I eat everything. Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, horse…”

I wanted to add you, but I stopped.

Now I am in Germany. I am a nurse. I face the same questions, and a tad more.

I work as a nurse in an old age home. I help people get out of bed. I clean them up when they are soiled. I lift them up and lead them to the places they would like to go to.

Some of them don’t want to be touched by a person with brown skin.

Others casually comment,

“ Oh India, poor country! Aren’t you lucky that Germany lacks nurses? You get to live in these beautiful surroundings.”

I was anything but poor. We had two maids to take care of the household. We had a cook. We had a driver drive us around. We just did not have caring parents to check what these strangers did to us.

Explaining all this to the oldies in my broken German was pointless. I let barking dogs bark.

Other men I had to nurse would joke,

“From India? Beautiful hair! So you sure are seeing a naked man for the first time. You have to pay to clean my penis.”

In Corona Times

The pandemic made a 6 feet distance and the wearing of a mask compulsory. Racists exploited this fact to the fullest.

My mother and I were standing in a queue at the grocery store. A white woman aggravatedly told us to keep more than 6 feet distance from her. She herself was only 2 feet away from the white person in front.

Recently, we, a group of Thai and Indians walked through the fields. This was a no-driving zone. A white person came driving at full speed expecting us to make way. We expected him to turn back.

He did not. Instead, he honked and angrily muttered,

“Können Sie nicht sehen? Lassen Sie mich durch?” (Can’t you see? Will you make way?)

We stood mum and gave way.

This took me back to all those times in India when I was caught unawares. When a sudden thud on my breasts and bum froze me instead of making me react. When I mocked my very existence.

I hope my brown American children weren’t victims

We took the children to an indoor Elmo concert. The hall was crowded. We were standing in line to make our way to the seats.

My one-year-old son had just started walking. Despite attempts to hold him in my arms, he did not listen. He accidentally touched the African woman standing in front of me.

Like an automatic reflex, she brushed him aside and glared at me.

“Keep your baby to yourself”, she said, picking up her almost 5-year-old son.

I have since met many black people. They are the most wonderful and helpful beings on earth.

This woman was a constant victim of racism. She got tired of being discriminated against and lashed out the hate on another person who wasn’t white.

If the world contained more frustrated people like her, what a shitty place it would become?

Survival Skills

There are many in the same boat I am in. Here are some ways I survived.

I used the hatred in my favor.

I diverted it in making myself stronger and more independent. Instead of turning out to be meek, I turned out to be the proud feminist I am today.

I used the appearance in my favor

Now when airlines question me if I was carrying meat products onboard, I vigorously shake my head and respond in the thickest Indian accent.

“No way, I am vegetarian.”

When someone calls me a slut, I become one and show them the finger.

Empty vessels make more noise.

I lose no time arguing with my oppressors. While they have remained stuck in their permanent shell, I saw more of the world even when hailing from the third world. I laugh at their ignorance. You do the same.

When you see something, say something.

If I witness acts of racism, I come out strongly in support. In fact, I may be a tad partial toward women behind the veil and those who are not white. I do not want to create more frustrated women. They run the world!

Teach your children well, they hold the future in their hands.

The way a person looks cannot be changed. The way we look at people of different colors, shapes, sizes, and ethnicity, can.

In a playground, children of all colors should be playing together. Instead, we witness whites sticking to whites, Muslims to Muslims, brown to brown, black to black, and flat-faced to flat-faced.

Are we playing a matching game here?

Color is the melody of light. ― Joyce Wycoff

Sing it.

Shireen is an avid writer, budding Opera singer, apprentice nurse in Germany, wildlife rehabilitator, dog sitter, dog walker, walker…. Jack of all trades and master of one- Mother to two children aged 7 and 9!


Previously Published on medium


Join The Good Men Project as a Premium Member today.

All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.

A $50 annual membership gives you an all access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.

Register New Account

Log in if you wish to renew an existing subscription.

Choose your subscription level

By completing this registration form, you are also agreeing to our Terms of Service which can be found here.



Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.

Photo credit: PxHere

The post How To Use Discrimination in Your Favor appeared first on The Good Men Project.

Get Discount