Why I Write Vol. 6: Because My Stories Are Larger than My Skin Color
In this series, "Why I Write," members of the Grub community share what compels them to put words onto paper day after day. In this edition, Rashmi Tiwari writes in spite of expectations.
Because growing up in the white suburbs of Denver, there were no picture or chapter books in my elementary school library that described the life of an Indian-American girl like me.
Because as I entered middle school, I realized that brown and black people were merely accessories in books about a white person’s journey to self-acceptance or self-actualization or romantic love.
Because by the time I was in high school, I knew that the “literary canon” meant books by white men that other white men had deemed important.
Because even in college when my world expanded to include Frederick Douglass Johnson and Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison and Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Sandra Cisneros, I was taught that brown and black stories stood apart from the other “literature.”
Because when I finally read the poetic (amazing, mind-blowing, how-does-she-just-get-it) fiction of Jhumpa Lahiri when I was twenty-two, I also understood that these were the types of stories that were expected of an Indian-American brown writer like me.
Because I realized that my stories are much larger than my skin color. Or my ethnicity. Or the Indian-American heritage that is my birthright and the inheritance I proudly pass down to my Jewish-Indian-American daughter.
I write because writing keeps my voice from getting lost in a sea of 140-character missives and poorly spelled social media screeds.
I write because I have something to say and (contrary to what is expected of me), it’s not always about my experience of being brown. (Like any writer worth their salt, I work hard to get into your head, too.)
I write because writing is the perfect marriage of personal and political.
I write because.
Rashmi Tiwari is a public health writer who lives with her family in Roxbury. She is also writing a book of interconnected short stories that take place on the MBTA 1 bus line.
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