Priyanka Chopra: “Just Because I Am Brown, Why Am I A Terrorist?”

by Trisha Arora

Racism strikes again! We all remember the ignorance Miss America Nina Davuluri faced after winning the 2014 title. Bollywood superstar and the new face of GUESS, Priyanka Chopra tells the Wall Street Journal how she faced the same type of criticism.

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Following her September 2013 NFL performance, Chopra received similar hate via Twitter and email, where people were calling her an “Arab terrorist” and claiming she should not have been allowed to perform because she is not American.

Since being called a terrorist, during the interview she said:

Why is every Arab person a terrorist and just because I am brown, why am I a terrorist?

I’m disgusted at the fact that people can be so ignorant and stupid. Calling someone of a different background a terrorist? Really? Do you have a life?

I applaud the Bollywood actress’ powerful response during a recent video interview with Wall Street Journal’s Lee Hawkins, who speaks to her about her GUESS campaign and an upcoming album. We shouldn’t expect any less from this multi-talented superstar.

I’ve been in the limelight, in a public space, for very long. I understand dealing with brick bats and bouquets. You will get the bad and you will get the good. And I’ve dealt with racism. I think the only way to go forward is to shut the detractors with your work. Keep being an achiever, keep achieving, because there are so many people who support you. Instead of harping on the fact that yes, I’m called a terrorist, because I happen to be brown and from South Asia, and on getting hate mail saying ‘You’re not white, why should you be on NFL?’ Despite that, I’d rather focus on the millions of other people who’ve been sending emails or tweets and writing in to the NFL network saying it’s amazing. I’d rather focus on that.

During the interview, Chopra made some great points about being a South Asian woman trying to break the barriers in American mainstream media. She said does not want to be categorized as too Indian or too American, instead she wants to be known as an entertainer.

They come with a certain point view about me. As soon as they hear of a Bollywood actress, they think of a certain image of me, maybe with a flowing sari, or with a bindi, or something like thatwhich I am also. It also a part of my life and it also something I am tremendously proud and happy about. But there is also another aspect of me – I am an entertainer and entertainers do dawn many hats.

Some other South Asians who have recently made it to mainstream media include, Waris Alhuwalia, the Indian-American actor and a designer, who became the face of GAP’s holiday season campaign, Neelam Johal, the first Indian Burberry model at the age of 18 and now Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif, who is as the new face of L’oreal Paris.

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What bothers me the most is the fact that other South Asians join in and “hate on” public figures like Davuluri and Chopra. They’ve become so successful and well know, not just in our community, but all over the world. Most of the South Asian community is so proud of these talented individuals who are making a name for themselves, whereas others continue to bash them. After Davuluri claimed the title of Miss America, I saw Tweets and Facebook statuses calling her ugly and an Arab.

I also unfortunately read an article in an Indian magazine and read some tweets that said Davuluri was only fit to win an American pageant, but would never be good enough to win an Indian pageant because of her darker skin color. It’s sad to think the country she proudly represents as an American would not accept her.

Out of all the hate I have read, its the worst when the hates comes from within the South Asian community. Following the release of “Exotic,” Chopra’s first single with Pitbull, I noticed more desis with negative comments than anyone else.

To the South Asians: Stop hating and just be proud that one of our own has made it this far. Everyone has something they’re good at and everyone has something great about them. For Chopra, she’s a role model for people around the world. You were meant to be something else. Just take your negativity and turn it into motivation to do something great with your lives rather than sitting around and talking crap like a bunch of gossiping aunties.

To the non-South Asians: I want to acknowledge all of the people from different cultures who are fighting against this ignorance with us. You guys are true Americans!

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